Moving on with the named verse form theme, here's a triolet...
(Poem #906) To a Fat Lady Seen From the Train
O why do you walk through the fields in gloves, Missing so much and so much? O fat white woman whom nobody loves, Why do you walk through the fields in gloves, When the grass is soft as the breast of doves And shivering sweet to the touch? O why do you walk through the fields in gloves, Missing so much and so much?
triolet: a poem or stanza of eight lines in which the first line is repeated at the fourth and seventh and the second line as the eight with a rhyme scheme of ABaAabAB. The English pronunciation is tr<e>i;olet, though it is tree-o-lay in French. Today's poem is not particularly great, except for one thing - it makes excellent use of the triolet form. Rather than employ the more modern custom of attempting to vary the reading of the repeated lines, Cornford structures the poem so that the repetition reads easily and naturally - it's not obscured, but it doesn't need to be, since it adds to, rather than detracts from, the poem. As for the content of the poem, the "O fat white woman whom nobody loves" is rather jarring to modern sensibilities; I can't imagine it being too far otherwise even to her contemporaries. In particular, I find the 'whom nobody loves' a rather odd sort of deduction to make from a train window, and have to wonder if it was intended as a comment on the narrator as much as on the woman. Like 'Trees', like 'The Ballad of the Tempest', today's poem has just that combination of popular and annoying qualities that make it almost guaranteed to attract parodies. Chesterton was moved to reply on the woman's behalf: Why do you rush through the fields in trains, Guessing so much and so much. Why do you flash through the flowery meads, Fat-head poet that nobody reads; And why do you know such a frightful lot About people in gloves and such? -- Chesterton, 'The Fat White Woman Speaks' (c. 1933); an answer to Frances Cornford. and Housman skewered the poem rather neatly: O why do you walk through the fields in boots, Missing so much and so much? O fat white woman whom nobody shoots, Why do you walk through the fields in boots, When the grass is soft as the breast of coots And shivering-sweet to the touch? -- Housman; see [broken link] http://vp.engl.wvu.edu/Fall98/burnett.htm for the rest of the (excellent) piece on Housman's reworking of other poets' poems. On Triolets: Like most of the repeated line verse forms, triolets are influenced rather heavily by the constraint. Unlike the villanelle, however, the poem itself is short enough that the repetition can be worked with, rather than around, a lot more easily (though workarounds are, of course, popular, from the shifting of punctuation and parts of speech to the use of homophones and homonyms, taking advantage of the fact that the repeated lines merely have to *sound* identical). Here are some essays on the triolet: Going back at least to the thirteenth century, triolets are short, usually witty poems, just perfect for tucking into a box of candy or some flowers. Its name comes from the repetition of the key line three times (French "tri"). -- [broken link] http://www.writing-world.com/poetry/triolet.html [broken link] http://www.geocities.com/~spanoudi/poems/henley01.html is a self-referential triolet [broken link] http://pub4.ezboard.com/fthesonnetboardnotsonnets.showMessage?topicID=343.topic is another amusingly self-referential piece about the English/French pronunciation differences (the triolet is, in general, a fun form to play with, and popular among amateur writers of light verse). [broken link] http://pub34.ezboard.com/fla1frm30.showMessage?topicID=2.topic is another nice essay The earliest English triolets were of a devotional nature composed by Patrick Carey, a Benedictine monk, in 1651. It was reintroduced by Robert Bridges in 1873. -- http://www.themediadrome.com/content/articles/words_articles/right_word4_fixed_forms.htm#triolet A brief biography of Conford: http://www.traditional-poetry.org/cornford.htm Minstrels Links: Poem #84: "From a Railway Carriage", R. L. Stevenson Poem #212: "To Alice-Sit-By-The-Hour", Franklin Adams -martin