Monday, January 20, 2014

Monday Poetry Stretch - Anaphora

Anaphora is "the repetition of the same word or phrase in several successive clauses." Whitman uses anaphora in the poem Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking. Here is an excerpt.
Out of the cradle endlessly rocking,
Out of the mocking-bird's throat, the musical shuttle,
Out of the Ninth-month midnight,
Over the sterile sands and the fields beyond, where the child
leaving his bed wander'd alone, bareheaded, barefoot,
Down from the shower'd halo,
Up from the mystic play of shadows twining and twisting as
if they were alive,
Out from the patches of briers and blackberries,
From the memories of the bird that chanted to me,
From your memories sad brother, from the fitful risings and
fallings I heard,
From under that yellow half-moon late-risen and swollen as
if with tears,
From those beginning notes of yearning and love there in
the mist,
From the thousand responses of my heart never to cease,
From the myriad thence-arous'd words,
From the word stronger and more delicious than any,
From such as now they start the scene revisiting,
As a flock, twittering, rising, or overhead passing,
Borne hither, ere all eludes me, hurriedly,
A man, yet by these tears a little boy again,
Throwing myself on the sand, confronting the waves,
I, chanter of pains and joys, uniter of here and hereafter,
Taking all hints to use them, but swiftly leaping beyond them,
A reminiscence sing.
You can learn more about anaphora at

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a poem that uses anaphora. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.


  1. Snow

    Snow flies like white birds,
    lighting on the lawn, covering it
    with their light wings, finding
    cold seed between blades of grass.
    Snow flies like white birds,
    settling on the trees, covering
    branches with their bright wings,
    calling in windy voices.
    Snow flies like white birds,
    filling the sky with the sight
    of their wings till it is nothing but birds,
    white birds flying.

    —Kate Coombs, 2014
    all rights reserved

  2. I've wanted to work with anaphora for a long while, but Whitman and Christopher Smart have loomed a little too large in my imagination.

    Kate: That is a brilliant use of repetition. What a fine sound-shape!

    Here's an early draft of something new:


    After rattle and dust from the haulaway truck
    After a sagtail squirrel pines like a migrant farmer
    After a sharp hook jags logbark
    After pellet snow from the chipping machine
    After blowback after limbsnap after timber
    After chainsaw after chainsaw after rain
    We plant another sugar maple.

    © 2014 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

  3. Thanks, Steven! I like how the word "after" is your anaphora--and how all that machinery is followed by something so natural!

  4. Trane

    John Coltrane
    Jazz saxophonist
    and composer

    There once was a wailing wizard
    Magician of Tenor Reed
    And he dwelled in the Land of the Octaves
    And his life was high-low keyed
    And he pulled the scarves from evening
    And he wrapped them around the night
    And he hypnotized six moonbeams
    And he dizzied the world with light
    And he blew the blessed house down
    And he liked to jazz the joint
    As he curled into a sound wave
    He broke at the breaking point

    There once was a wailing wizard
    As wild as a hurricane
    And I am the wailing wizard
    Listen to my roaring Trane

    —J. Patrick Lewis, 2014
    all rights reserved

  5. J. Patrick--Oh my! This one really sings. I love "And he pulled the scarves from evening…."

  6. Well, I'm glad I didn't read the comments before I tried this. Mine is just a quick jot about what happened in the classroom yesterday.

    Indoor Recess

    Too cold again.
    Too snowy for outdoor recess.
    Too many days spent with the same twenty classmates.
    Too limited without electronics.

    We already built with blocks.
    We already played board games.
    We already made up a storytelling game.
    We already finished four jigsaw puzzles.

    Let's play all together!
    Let's play a whole class game!
    Let's play Heads Up Seven Up!
    Let's play!


    It's amazing to see them ALL play together.
    It's amazing -- first time in my career it's happened.
    It's amazing to know that collaboration can emerge so naturally.
    It's amazing to have faith and hope reaffirmed during indoor recess.

    ©Mary Lee Hahn, 2014


    When suppers cut, tossed, baked, served,
    When homework’s read, written, learned,
    When Fido’s walked, scratched, fed,
    When I’m scrubbed, rinsed, deodorized –
    Then it’s time for bed.

    (c) Charles Waters 2014 all rights reserved.