Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I Don't Know; I Wasn't There

Wrote a pantun or pantoum for the class last night. There's no non-technical way of describing what a pantun is, so if you're not interested, skip to the poem below.

It is made up of quatrains, four line verses, and each verse has a rhyme scheme abab; in other words the first and third lines rhyme and the second and fourth line rhyme. Then it gets a bit complex. The second and fourth line become the first and third line of the next verse. Then we repeat this for each verse following. So that every line appears twice, the first and third lines from the original first verse make an appearance in the last verse; as the last and second lines, respectively. I demonstrate below.

The assignment: Write a pantun (or pantoum) of 16 lines - on any topic.

I don’t know, I wasn’t there

I don’t know, I wasn’t there
They say it rained a lot that night
The boys went swimming on a dare
They’d heard mermaids don’t like to bite

They say it rained a lot that night
Chances to swim are pretty rare
They’d heard mermaids don’t like to bite
The moonlight shone across their hair

Chances to swim are pretty rare
They splashed and laughed in delight
The moonlight shone across their hair
They disappeared from human sight

They splashed and laughed in delight
They boys went swimming on a dare
They disappeared from human sight
I don’t know, I wasn’t there

In my opinion, and also at least one of the other students, the line you use for the twist is the last line of the third verse - "They disappeared from human sight". This and the first/last line are the ones you need to build the poem around.

Mermaid's bite and disappeared from human sight got the slightly disturbed reaction I was hoping for. The folktale/urban legend vibe was also picked up. The details convinced one of the class that the narrator was there; the contradictions (rain AND moonlight?) convinced another they weren't. My answer was the predictable one.

Two week break then I'm back with a sonnet. Did you want an assignment? You did? Find another pantun, or pantoum and read it!  Available from most internet search engines.