14 February 2010


Visual Poetry by Individualist

Author’s Notes:

Okay today is Valentine Day and I am authoring a website dedicated to original poetry. So I must by some unwritten law prepare and put a poem on my site in honor of Love on the feast of St. Valentine. My poem “Valenstina” is this poem. If there is one type of subject that is most noted with poetry it must be love. Some might say that this is because the emotion lends itself easily to the writing of poetry however they are not necessarily easy to write. I think it is because Love may be the strongest emotion that we experience and therefore it is very memorable and so provides inspiration. Certainly Hate can be an equally strong emotion but it is not one we like to experience. We do not dwell on hatred and for those that do the rest of us are usually either disinterested or, in the case of an obsessed individual, we are concerned with dissolving that state. Thus love wins out over hate in the circles of poetry.

This poem is a Sestina which is another French form that relies this time not on repeating lines but repeating words. It is an acrostic poetic form in which there are six stanzas of six lines and a usually a finishing tercet of three lines. Rarely the poem may end in a couplet or a haiku. This is a total of 39 or 38 lines. I have chosen to end ”Valenstina” in a haiku. The poem repeats the last word of each line in the first stanza in the remaining lines of the poem. The order of repetition follows a mathematical scheme based on the last stanza. The word in the last line is used in the end of the first line of the next stanza. Then the first line word is placed in the second line of the next stanza. The fifth line becomes the third and the second line becomes the fourth, the fourth line becomes the fifth and the third line becomes the last. Thus if we number the lines from one to six the first stanza will end (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and the next stanza will be (6,1,5,2,4,3). You will note that this means the last line word is used as the first line word of the next stanza and the six stanzas of the main poem begin and end on the same word. The six words are then repeated in the tercet in the middle and end of the lines. There are different methods in the placement of the order here. I chose a Haiku incorporating the word’s in the order of the first stanza. Here are links to websites that detail how to make a sestina:

Baymoon Press
Craft of Poetry

In honor of Valentine’s Day I chose to make every line 14 syllables long. I used a complex metrical structure in the poem. I alternate the line from eight iambic tetrameter followed by a Dactyl foot (Dum duh duh) and then an anapest foot (duh duh Dum) for a six syllable structure with stressed beats at the beginning and end. The anapest is the opposite form of the Dactyl with the stressed beats coming at the end. The poem “Twas the Night before Christmas” is a good example of this. To give the poem more variation I started with the eight iambic syllables and ended with the six bell tolling syllables in the first line and then alternated the next line with the bell tolling six syllables fist and ending with the drumbeat of the eight syllables of the iambic tetrameter. This gave a nice playful ring to the poem and allowed me to stress certain poetic connotations with the mood of the rhythm of the voice of the poem. In honor of the acrostic nature of the poem there is a hidden message.

With regard to the frames I chose to use a standardized form to the pictures to make them look somewhat like Hallmark cards with captions. To this end the picture is framed within the card and the picture itself is made to have fewer abstract elements. This seemed in line with the theme of the poem.

As with most love poems I write this one makes allusions to mythology. Here are some notes for those not familiar with the Roman mythology from which the poem references.

Bacchus (Greek Dionysus) is the God of wine and the inspirer of madness and ecstasy. To the Romans he was the patron god of agriculture, mystery cults and the theater and was responsible for freeing the mind from the normal self through madness and excess. Bacchus was also associated with the Roman god of freedom Liber. The aulos was the instrument associated with this madness and was used in these rights. The aulos was an ancient instrument like an oboe or clarinet (sometimes it was blown as a flute) and usually consisted of two pipes played at angles. The instrument was associated with madness.

Hera (Roman Juno) is the goddess of marriage and the Hearth. The apples of Hera are representations of marriage and fertility.

Faunus (Greek Pan) is the Roman god of the fields and plains and is associated with making cattle fertile. He is tied to the original god Di Indigetes who was said to be King of the Latins. He was also the god of prophecy through his shade Fatuus.

Note in the third stanza’s last line I meant to use the word widest and not wildest. Since even the word processing program tried to correct me I felt the need to point this out.

Enjoy and happy Valentine’s Day every one!


  1. Very nice, Indy! So much better to get an original poem than a Hallmark card. Happy Valentine's Day to you!

  2. Thank you Writer X. I appreciate the compliment.

    Have a Happy Valentines Day!