Like many Poetry Friday friends, I’m participating in Laura Shovan‘s 6th Annual February Daily Poem Project. This year’s theme is ekphrasis. Each day, a group member posts a photo of a work of art in his or her home. The variety of works shared during the past week alone has been astounding. I haven’t been able to keep up and write a poem every day, but I’m trying. This daily writing is stretching my poetry muscles in different ways and has yielded many surprises. Almost accidentally, I’ve also been playing with new and different forms. Last week, I shared an abecedarian. This week, Heather Meloche shared a block print created by her grandmother, Thelma Wilson Brain.
Troubadours and courtly love immediately came to mind, so I decide to tried my had at a lai. In The Essential Poet’s Glossary, Edward Hirsch writes that “in Old French Poetry, a lai is a short lyrical or narrative poem…usually written in octosyllabic verse.” Sticking to a strict syllable count and rhyme scheme was quite a challenge. I tried not to sacrifice sense while maintaining both, but don’t think I completely succeeded. In any case, this draft was fun to write, and brought back many fond memories of a favorite English professor who specialized in the lais of Marie de France.
The Maiden and the Dove
When troubadours in days of old
Sang songs of maids with hair of gold,
Sweet lady Jane traversed a wood
To where the sacred hazel stood.
Beneath its boughs she met a dove
Who trilled the promise of true love.
“Gather rosebuds of red and white.
Present them to a gallant knight.
For you he will forego all strife,
Preferring an idyllic life.”
No damsel in distress was she,
Jane soon was down upon one knee.
“Dear dove, thank you for these wise words
But taking such advice from birds
Seems like a foolish plan to make
And sure would bring me much heartache.
Don’t fill my head with fluff and froth.
I’ll only ever pledge my troth
To one who’s loyal and steadfast,
Whose bravery is unsurpassed.
On such a man I will bestow
My tender love, then all will know.”
To her word, gracious Jane was true,
Tales of her love and kindness grew,
Throughout the land her story was told,
By troubadours in days of old.
© Catherine Flynn, 2018
Please be sure to visit Sally Murphy’s blog for the Poetry Friday Roundup.