Saturday, June 21, 2014

Reply Poems

Post by Elisabeth TenBrink Kelley, co-founder

     Reply poems are not like sonnets or haiku, but refer to a completely different aspect of a poem. They are pretty self-explanatory: reply poems are a reply. However, they are specifically to another poem. One of the better-known examples would be "A Passionate Shepherd to His Love" and "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd".

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
By Christopher Marlowe

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods or steepy mountain yields.
And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.
And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;
A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;
A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me and be my love.
The shepherds' swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.
The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd
By Sir Walter Raleigh
If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd's tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with thee and be thy love.
Time drives the flocks from field to fold
When rivers rage and rocks grow cold,
And Philomel becometh dumb;
The rest complains of cares to come.
The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
To wayward winter reckoning yields;
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy's spring, but sorrow's fall.
Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten
In folly ripe, in season rotten.
Thy belt of straw and ivy buds,
Thy coral clasps and amber studs,
All these in me no means can move
To come to thee and be thy love.
But could youth last and love still breed,
Had joys no date nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind might move
To live with thee and be thy love.  
     As you can see, they sometimes copy the rhyme and/or meter of the original poem, but they won't necessarily. There is nothing specific that needs to be done to make a reply poem, though the most important thing, aside from poem quality, is to make it so that people can tell that it is a reply poem. With the previous one, it is pretty obvious (to those of the time) because the original was a fairly well-known and it has many lines that are quite close to the original. Another option is to do what I did in my poem below, which is to "address" the poem.
     First, I'll give you the poem I'm replying to:
By Percy Bysshe Shelley

The flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow dies:
All that we wish to stay
Temps and then flies.
What is this word's delight?
Lightning that mocks the night,
Brief even as bright.

Virtue how frail it is!
Friendship how rare!
Love how it sells poor bliss
For proud despair!
But we, thought soon they fall,
Survive their joy, and all
Which our we call.

Whilst skies are blue and bright,
Whilst flowers are gay,
Whilst eyes that change ere night
Make glad the day,
Whilst yet the calm hours creep,
Dream thou- and from they sleep
Then wake to weep
To Shelley’s “Mutability”
By Elisabeth TenBrink Kelley
Wrong! For though much I live is dream,
 I know it is only that, no more
 But from what you seem
 To say, the truth is but sore
 But I look around and I see,
 Though I could live off dreams if need be,
 There are more joys in reality!

 Though left and right there is sorrow
 And morality seem only to decay
 I need look only to tomorrow
 For the Lord guides each and every day!
 What can we expect after the Fall?
 That the world would be perfect as a doll?
 Nay, but the Devil shall not take all

The skies need not be bright,
 Nor the flowers gay, for me to know joy
 Will a mere day without light
 My heart’s happiness destroy?
 To last, happiness must be deep
 And while I loves the dreams of sleep
 I shall not wake to weep
     I hope you've enjoyed this, and I hope that you have a good time with your poetry. Perhaps we should have a reply poem contest soon, huh?
Elisabeth TenBrink Kelley is an aspiring author and poet. To learn more about her, see our About Us page. You can follow her on Twitter here: @ElisabethGTK.
We have two contests right now, one of which is poetry. To see the guidelines, click here.
 Our other contest is an art contest, we extended the deadline! Come see more here.

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