Poetic Temptations

Poetic Temptations, 23 May 2020. Copyright 2020 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.

The Purely Pragmatic

The traditional poet is often tempted to use a word solely for its rhyming ability and must, therefore, be ever wary of the possibility that his choice serves no other function than the purely pragmatic, adding nothing conceptual to the work.

I faced just such a trap in a variation for “Skaapwagtertjie”’s1 first stanza, where the word windjie’s2 sole purpose was to rhyme with kindjie3, contributing nothing beyond those lowest of functions: superfluous detail and mere rhyme.

The Delightfully Literary

Another temptation concerns my anachronistic compositional style—a Romantic use of language to complement my theme. I prefer, for example, “upon” and “whilst” over “on” and “while”; a line with a literary phrasing over a prosaic one.

In the Afrikaans counterpart of “Shepherd Girl”, I must presently decide whether the archaic newels4 or familiar mis5 (both mean “mist(s)”) best suits the poem. In cases such as these, it is fortunate that my artistic approach indulges!

  1. The Afrikaans counterpart of “Shepherd Girl” that I am now composing.
  2. Pronounced [veyngki] (with [ey] like the [ei] in “reign” and the [i] in “in”), Afrikaans for “breeze” (literally “little wind”).
  3. Pronounced [keyngki] (with [ey] like the [ei] in “reign” and the [i] in “in”), Afrikaans for “little child”.
  4. Pronounced [neevils] (with the [ee] in “deer” and [i] like the [a] in “about”).
  5. Pronounced [miss] (with [i] like the [a] in “about”).

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