Revising “Autumn”

Revising “Autumn”, 1 December 2019. Copyright 2019 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.
At the top, the refrain approach with the same phrase starting each line (presented in grey) and internal and end rhyming parts (presented in corresponding colours); at the bottom, the regular end-rhyming couplet approach.

A few days ago, I was ready to abandon the alternating refrain approach of the “Autumn” poem’s 2012 draft—where every second stanza is a couplet with the same starting phrase and internal and end rhyme—in favour of regular end-rhyming couplets.

My chief criticism of the refrains was that they felt, at times, contrived—forced and engineered—not so much contributing to as stunting the unfolding of the poem, wherefore I experimented with the regular couplet format as a more natural—spontaneous and fluent—alternative.

Yesterday, I decided to keep the refrains. In the original version, they emerged from the cadence of the stanzas—dum-di dum-di dum-dum, dum-di dum-di dum repeated in two successive lines—which I sought to emphasise with recurring starting phrases and internal and end rhyme.

At the time, it was perhaps an indulgence—“Autumn” was my first lyric poem—now, I embrace it fully. Already, it demands all my poetic ingenuity to make it work, but I am hopeful that I shall overcome the challenges and achieve an elegant outcome.

My biggest challenge revising the “Autumn” poem is the refrain element of the original draft (every second stanza is a couplet with internal and end rhyme). My sentimental side wants to retain this approach—to wrestle with it and test my poetic abilities; my imaginative side wants to be liberated from its constraints and explore the possibilities of regular rhyming couplets. Presently, I am developing lines for both—whichever produces the better stanzas will win in the end.