Droighneach: Back on track

You have not changed: it’s me. I’ve been distracted
By events, become estranged from you: unlearning
All I knew and understood, my view refracted
Through dark prisms; all good things lost. But I’m returning.

I let myself be taken. Dumb and dutiful
I joined the fight. Chain yanked, cage shaken, I ignited;
Burned hot and strong awhile, but nothing beautiful
Formed in that flame; no song beguiled, no line delighted.

Please: show me all I’ve missed; the slow revolving
Of the seasons; days kissed by early snow, descending
Into winter’s night, rising to summer, dissolving
In fire and bright gold as the great wheel turns, unending.

By long ways round I stand back where my road divided.
A wrong turn? Perhaps: yet it showed my true endeavour
Is to be your voice, speak your truth. I have decided,
Made my choice. And so to work; today, and forever.

 
 

Continuing from yesterday’s post, I’m making a conscious return to the forms and themes I was exploring – and enjoying – before the events of 2016 and afterwards knocked me off course. I thought my duty as a writer was to join the war effort; but there are many, many others far better qualified who can make bigger and more meaningful contributions to those debates than I ever could. And it turns out I’m not a fighter anyway; it just makes me miserable.
One could argue (and I have told myself for years) that writing about the beauties of the world is pointless, frivolous and self-indulgent, when there is so much hard, real, dangerous stuff to deal with. But I’ve found that road, for me at least, leads nowhere good. It’s time to accept my purpose lies elsewhere and believe it has a value; somewhere, somehow.
Anyway. I felt the need to stretch my writing muscles again – and nothing stretches ’em like the droighneach. (Apart from the sestina, but that’s for another day.) I haven’t attempted this fiendish form for about five years, and now I know why: it is a refined and exquisite torment, made up of four-line stanzas (as many as you can stand) of nine to 13 syllables, with at least one cross-rhyme between the first and second line (eg long/wrong, road/showed) and third and fourth line (voice/choice) in each. Oh, and there’s the small matter of the ABAB rhyme scheme; AND that every line has to end on a three-syllable word. It was quite the tussle, and I’m still not sure who came out on top, but I feel SO much better for it! N.

5 thoughts on “Droighneach: Back on track

  1. I haven’t written a Celtic droighneach since you and I traded our efforts all those years ago either, Nick. This is really really impressive. The form is more challenging than any other form, except, perhaps, the double sestina, which we also traded efforts at a while ago. I loved receiving your poems for the anthology. You are a poet and a sonneteer, for sure. I am so busy these days that paying attention to wordpress is difficult. Since I am trying to start a publishing company, Four Windows Press, in about six months to a year we ought to discuss you doing a book. Ethel and I are not expecting to make money, but we do want to champion literature and not themes and prompts and things like that. Will you keep that in mind?

    • Music to my ears, Tom. Of course; I would be delighted and honoured. Just say the word. What a fantastic prospect – thank you so much. And I’m pleased you liked the droighneach; there were probably easier ways to get back into formal-verse mode, but I thought I might as well go for broke! It’s just as difficult as it was all those years ago, but if anything, I think I enjoyed the struggle even more this time. My very best to you and Ethel, as always. N.

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