And now NaPoWriMo’s (again — totally optional) prompt! Today, I challenge you to write a pantun. Not a pantoum — though they are related. The pantun is a traditional Malay form, a style of which was later adapted into French and then English as the pantoum. A pantun consists of rhymed quatrains (abab), with 8-12 syllables per line. The first two lines of each quatrain aren’t meant to have a formal, logical link to the second two lines, although the two halves of each quatrain are supposed to have an imaginative or imagistic connection. Here’s an example:
I planted sweet-basil in mid-field.
Grown, it swarmed with ants,
I loved but am not loved,
I am all confused and helpless.
The associative leap from the first couplet to the second allows for a great deal of surprise and also helps give the poems are very mysterious and lyrical quality. Try your hand at just one quatrain, or a bunch of them, and see how you do!
I looked so hard for something I never found
Many miles I covered, many days I wasted
My tears fall now, salty on hallowed ground
The cold misty tomb. Bitterness I tasted.
Looking for sweet bluebells, I so loved their scent
Smells of the wood. Footfalls in dead leaves.
I think back to last summer. Days with you well spent.
But winter still with me. Icy raindrops. Church eves.
© 2013 Stan Rogers. All rights reserved.