(Poem #1639) In Prison
Wearily, drearily, Half the day long, Flap the great banners High over the stone; Strangely and eerily Sounds the wind's song, Bending the banner-poles. While, all alone, Watching the loophole's spark, Lie I, with life all dark, Feet tether'd, hands fetter'd Fast to the stone, The grim walls, square-letter'd With prison'd men's groan. Still strain the banner-poles Through the wind's song, Westward the banner rolls Over my wrong.
(1834-1896) What fascinated me about today's poem was the interplay between form and content. The subject material is appropriately sombre - but my first impression was an almost startled reaction to the bouncily dactylic metre of the first line. As the poem progresses, there is the continual tension between the clever, almost playful form and the increasingly grim depiction of the prison. (Note, in addition to the metre, the beautifully intricate abcdabe dffgdgd ebeb rhyme scheme, indeed, this is about as complex a rhyme scheme as I've ever seen in a poem that wasn't adhering to some "named" form.) That tension is beautifully resolved in the last verse, indeed in the last two lines - the lines "westward the banner rolls/ over my wrong" have exactly the air of finality, the implacable ring of a closing door, to cast a tomblike pall over the rest of the poem, and convey the fact that yes, the narrator is in prison, and it is indeed a grim fate to befall anyone. martin  indeed, the rhyming 'wearily, drearily' foreshadows one of my favourite forms, the decidedly unsolemn double dactyl [Links] Astoundingly, we've run no poems by William Morris, who in addition to being a delightful poet was an impressive polymath. Here's some biographies: http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/online/morris/ http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/wmorris.htm And a link to some more of his poems: [broken link] http://www.poemhunter.com/william-morris/poet-6941/