For our last challenge of 2022, we let the word box inspire our poems. I made a long list of phrases that included the word box and hoped I would find some inspiration there. Two items on that list really stood out for me. One was "tackle box." I have fond memories of poking around in my father's tackle box while we were fishing. The other was a button box, which immediately reminded me of this.
This old candy tin was my grandmother's button "box." It was the one I spent hours playing with when I was young because "children were meant to be seen and not heard."
I also thought a lot about the shape of a box and wondered if I could write a poem in the shape of a box (or square). I did some searching and found that Lewis Carroll wrote in a poetic form where the number of words per line is equal to the total number of lines in the poem. What's challenging about this square poem is that each of the six lines was meant to be read horizontally OR vertically from top to bottom. Here is the poem Carroll wrote.
I Often Wondered
I often wondered when I cursed,
Often feared where I would be –
Wondered where she’d yield her love
When I yield, so will she.
I would her will be pitied!
Cursed be love! She pitied me…
It's a bit easier to see how this works in the image below.
I decided to give this form a go. I started with 6x6 and found it incredibly difficult to write a poem that made sense across all the lines. Frustrated, I tried a 5x5 and then a 4x4. Ultimately, I landed on a 3x3 and wrote two stanzas. This isn't what Carroll had in mind, but I'm a rule-breaker. I did use the word box in my poem, so I feel as though I met the challenge posed.
I created a grid to aid in writing my poem. It helped align the words and made reading the horizontal and vertical lines much easier.
Here's another way to read the poem. I've highlighted the words in various ways to make the vertical lines stand out. Even though the poem is actually 2 individual square poems linked by a theme, I quite like the way the 6 words across the stanzas work together to create 3 entirely new lines. I did cheat with the singular/plural form of button(s). I'm not sure "buttons box" works, but there you have it.
Sorting Grandma’s buttons
Grandma’s buttons box
Buttons box bounty
Assorted beautiful buttons
Beautiful buttons speak
Buttons speak history
Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2022. All rights reserved.
I am still working on a tackle box poem and hope to share that soon. In the meantime, if you are into nerdy mathematical poetry connections, I came across a conference paper while researching square poems that I am fascinated with. You may be too. It is entitled Graeco-Latin Square Poems
You can read the pieces written by my Poetry Sisters at the links below.
I hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Patricia Franz at Reverie. Happy poetry Friday, friends!