Droighneach: Out for the count

No man should shrink from artistic adventure;
He must drink deep, live large, assert his mastery.
I signed this binding intellectual indenture.
And took the winding road to a cross-rhymed Calvary.

So it seemed through dark days of restless rewriting.
I had not dreamed, in all my vaunting vanity
Of such prosodic pain: words were devils, delighting
In strife, and the levels of strain on my sanity.

I’ve tried. Truly. But now I’m done, defeated,
My poet’s pride all run down in its designing.
A fiendish form: often essayed, rarely repeated.
And having played my part, I’m ruefully resigning!

 
 

It’s taken me days to work up the courage to attempt the droighneach; a prosodic challenge thrown down by Cynthia Jobin, which my dear friends Ina and Tom Davis have so brilliantly taken up and vanquished. I managed three stanzas before my brain melted. I may have another crack at it sometime – I confess there’s something strangely compelling about its diabolical complexity – but don’t hold your breath. N.

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12 thoughts on “Droighneach: Out for the count

  1. Dear Nick–please don’t blame me….I said from the start that I was just kidding….it’s all Ina’s fault, for dashing off the first one….no, wait– it’s all Thomas’s fault for taking it seriously….. no, it’s the fault of any and all of us who so love the English language that we can’ t resist the challenge! As to your droighneach, I think you done as good as any of us…..

    • Thank you, Cynthia – I blame myself! And I knew from the get-go that I’d never surpass Ina and Tom’s efforts, even if that had been my intention. They, and you, are fine poets, and it’s an honour to be in your company: you’ve inspired me to attempt things I’d never have dared to on my own. N.

  2. Nick,
    I love this. I love this. Absolutely appropriate to the pain inflicted by the form, and it does inflict pain, but the music it forces you to achieve here, and the slyness of the counterpoint in logic:
    So it seemed through dark days of restless rewriting.
    I had not dreamed, in all my vaunting vanity
    Of such prosodic pain: words were devils, delighting
    In strife, and the levels of strain on my sanity.
    Ah my friend, my friend! You admit defeat on the field of victory! This is truly a droighneach. Hail to Cynthia and, as she says, to those, “any and all of us, who so love the English language that we can’ t resist the challenge!”
    Hail humble knight knealing on the field of victory!

    • Ha! I think the droighneach and I came out about even in our first serious tussle, Tom. It was painful (and painfully slow) to get even three stanzas down. But you’re right; I couldn’t resist the challenge – and I even came back for more! I do enjoy the complexity of working with cross-rhyme AND alliteration at the same time, but for sanity’s sake, it’s definitely something to do in small doses, and at long intervals! N.

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