Composing “Cranes and Sheep”

Composing “Cranes and Sheep”, 14 November 2019. Copyright 2019 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.

In the current “Cranes and Sheep” draft, the first three stanzas are all but complete. There is here and there a word or line I am yet to decide upon, but having gone through numerous variations of each of the three, they seem to me the most evocative expressions of the theme.

As is often the case, the last stanza (here the fourth) proves the most challenging. I am left with seventeen variations after the last edit. These are the possible versions I am testing for the conclusion of the poem (the while my recent compositional dilemma remains unresolved).

They all describe the same subject—a lamb afrolic—but the exact lines with which to convey it is the great question that diligence (and a poet’s inclination) must answer. This then is my work in the days to come. It always seems an impossible task, but I find the right verse in the end!

“An Exaltation” Revisited

Merino on an Eminence, 18 October 2019. Copyright 2019 Forgotten Fields. All rights reserved.
A flocklet of Merino on an eminence. At the summit (on the right), a Blue Crane. Taken 18 October 2019 in the Overberg (Western Cape, South Africa).

A few days ago, I extolled the simple beauty of my rural surroundings—the fundamental function of my work—in a few lines under the title “An Exaltation” and referred to it again later as an example of how my poems typically begin. I have since succumbed to temptation and turned the piece into a rough poetic sketch.

Incidentally, the title was taken from a redundant sketch in the current litany of poems for the collection; I am pleased to see it revived in this way but conflicted about including it. I resolved not to add new sketches to the list, and this reimagined version is technically so—I may have to move it to the “future collection” set.

Poetry Publication Progress (2019-10-28)

“Cranes and Sheep” Takes Shape, Part 2

“Cranes and Sheep” Draft Versions, 26 October 2019

Thus far, the initial “Cranes and Sheep” sketch has produced a number of variations which have led to five versions of the draft. (I explain here how I end up with so colourful a body of text.)

Whilst the first stanza has a few word variations in its third line—as I consider internal rhyme with its corresponding second stanza—it is an established part of the poem and the three stanzas that follow echo its structure, tone and style.

I must now work through the variations of each of these versions towards a final draft. I shall inevitably discover new ideas and directions as I do so, adding more variations along the way.

The origination of a traditional poem may seem a tedious task to the unfettered free verse poet, but to the lyric poet, the meticulous assembly of a composition—word by word, line by line, stanza by stanza—is a source of great fulfilment.