dVerse Poetics, Meeting the Bar – Poetry techniques

Meeting on the Turret Stairs, Sir Frederic Burton

Meeting on the Turret Stairs, Sir Frederic Burton

Today at dVerse Poetics Pub, Meeting the Bar, we are using several writing techniques – reduction, oulipo, and conceit.  I have decided to use reduction on a poem I wrote awhile back.  I saw this painting by Frederic Burton and was immediately touched by it and the story behind it of two ill fated lovers.  Note the fallen rose at her feet.


Meeting on the Turret Stairs
This last sacrament,
This last kiss, eternity
Locked in a moment –
Faithful heart will cease to beat,
Roses fade, love lives always –

Fair princess and saintly knight,
Her bodyguard, sworn to die for
Her even before their love bloomed.
Their love was forbidden.
He was deemed suitable to guard her
And give his life
Yet the king denied the knight’s worth
To love his daughter.

Her brothers will soon kill him
Obeying the will of their father.
The lovers,
One last time
Meet on the turret stairs.
She, beyond sorrow
Cannot look upon his face.
He, loving her beyond death
Feels this last kiss
A holy sacrament.
His face says what his heart cannot.
The rose, his last for her
Drops on the stairs,
It will fade
But their love will be forever.

60 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. claudia
    Mar 05, 2015 @ 15:49:25

    oh wow – that was quite some reduction…. cooked down to its essence – – really very very strong


  2. bmiller007 (@bmiller007)
    Mar 05, 2015 @ 15:52:48

    i think the reduction opens it up in a way, beyond the knight and his maiden to take us all in with them…being a story teller though, i def like the longer as it gives more of the story….


    • kanzensakura
      Mar 05, 2015 @ 16:03:39

      It does. The picture helps the reduction but one isn’t quite sure why except the picture gives a sense of farewell = war? execution? we don’t know. I think another reworking between the two would be a good idea. thank you.


  3. Mary
    Mar 05, 2015 @ 15:59:55

    You know, I do like the reduction version very much. I think everything important is in your ‘reduction’ version. Sometimes it is the shortest of poems that pack the strongest punch. True we don’t learn the complete story in the new version…but we do come away with the message. I think there is a time and a place for both versions.


    • kanzensakura
      Mar 05, 2015 @ 16:02:18

      Without the picture, you don’t get as much. I think the picture helps the reduction a lot, but there needs to be something midway between the two. Def will be reworking this yet again. 😊


  4. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Mar 05, 2015 @ 16:14:29

    I like the reduction a lot.. actually we had exercises in Carpe Diem trying to reduce classic poetry to a haiku.. and yes I think the condensed version boil it down to the core of it.. condensing the sadness to a hard pebble.. but of course some of the ambiguity is lost.. so it is a matter of what one want to tell..


    • kanzensakura
      Mar 05, 2015 @ 17:51:37

      Thank you. Carpe Diem helps a lot with haiku. I really like lean myself. Without the picture, the new version is up to the person’s imagination. Maybe that is better.


  5. Glenn Buttkus
    Mar 05, 2015 @ 16:29:17

    In a bloated obese world, reduction can be, might be, perhaps should be a viable option, a workable technique. You really did reduce the classic tale to a powerful lean stanza; very nice work; don’t think you need to rework it yet again, except out of curiosity.


  6. Gabriella
    Mar 05, 2015 @ 16:53:50

    This is a wonderful reduction, down to a nugget of meaning. But then I am in favor of lean poetry. It was an interesting exercise anyway.


    • kanzensakura
      Mar 05, 2015 @ 17:49:26

      I like lean poetry as well and often feel my “free verse” is sometimes too wordy. I wanted to take this down to a haiku even, but had no season word so…thank you!


  7. margo roby
    Mar 05, 2015 @ 17:12:04

    I like it. In grade school my English teacher used to give us a short paragraph, maybe thirty words, and tell us to reduce it to seventeen without losing the meaning. It was one of the best things I learned. Your lean, to the point, poem is stronger because that’s what’s there. Nothing else.


  8. The Course of Our Seasons
    Mar 05, 2015 @ 17:14:46

    Such a heartbreaking tale in so few words – the reduction works very well – lovely


  9. dkirkstokes
    Mar 05, 2015 @ 17:33:50

    Reductions are always better in my view, as long as meaning is maintained. This works very well, standing alone.


  10. Let's CUT the Crap!
    Mar 05, 2015 @ 17:43:58

    I DO love this. The compacte version is fantastic as it concentrates on the core story. Really good reduction and I don’t know poetry. ❤ ❤ ❤


  11. Mary
    Mar 05, 2015 @ 18:44:09

    Are you able to comment on my poem? Just wondering, as I haven’t seen you there yet; and I heard you had trouble with Blogger….. so I wondered if the problem was solved.


  12. katiemiafrederick
    Mar 05, 2015 @ 19:15:47

    Flesh and blood fades but truly love never goes away or grows old when Love is real….

    Some moments of love are greater than an eternity without love as a rose without color of Love has no color or rose @all..:)


  13. Grace
    Mar 05, 2015 @ 20:35:30

    And a beautiful tanka it is ~

    The reduction process worked so well but I also appreciated the back story of your original post ~

    Note: It would also help people to initially recognize your blogger/connect you to Hayes Spencer, if you sign your name as Kanzen after a comment ~


  14. Desmond, Anthony (@iamEPanthony)
    Mar 05, 2015 @ 20:40:02

    I really enjoy your writing… the reduction is definitely the core of the original piece; works amazingly by itself as well… bravo


  15. macjam47
    Mar 05, 2015 @ 20:56:06

    The essence of your original poem is expressed beautifully and concisely in your reduction poem. Very well done.


  16. Anna
    Mar 05, 2015 @ 21:51:27

    You went all in for the reduction and I agree that it can make a poem more mysterious and powerful. As Brian points out the storytelling is more apparent in the original. Whether you decide to keep the original, the distillation, or rewrite somewhere in the middle the real joy, at least for me, is always in the experimentation and learning.


  17. Kathy Reed
    Mar 05, 2015 @ 23:27:52

    Excellent editing…I wonder how many steps it took you to get to the minimum words? First try?
    The poem itself gives one time to feel the pain, but so much is unecessary.


    • kanzensakura
      Mar 06, 2015 @ 09:45:20

      I stepped out of “southern” mode and went into Japanese mode. I had wanted to pare it down to haiku but had no seasonal word so I opted for tanka to give me more syllables. It took me about 20 steps to get it where I wanted it. It was an enjoyable exercise and very calming. And like you, I’m not one of the young sprouts. I started blogging when I was 60 and am now 63. Oh the joys of discovering new things all through life.


  18. Raivenne
    Mar 06, 2015 @ 00:30:26

    Oh brava! I adore how well the reduction works here. Gives the mood more of an urgency to the moment, where the original was more narrative in feel.


  19. billgncs
    Mar 06, 2015 @ 01:13:19

    I agree – each word you kept was a powerful force to move the poem along, nice


  20. MarinaSofia
    Mar 06, 2015 @ 01:24:14

    The original was like a medieval ballad, the reduction like a classic Japanese tanka (the feeling, not the form). So much implied, so much unsaid – I liked it very much!


    • kanzensakura
      Mar 06, 2015 @ 09:36:09

      Thank you. I am extremely thankful for what you said. My main poetry forms are haiku and tanka…sometimes I sneak in a senryu. dVerse has been great in stretching my brain and writing forms.


  21. el34ax7
    Mar 06, 2015 @ 02:06:09

    In reverse, you can really ‘taste the roux’ of the larger poem. And that last line, “Roses fade, love lives always -” I hope so. While my wife is eternally pretty, I am merely a roses pedal. 🙂


    • kanzensakura
      Mar 06, 2015 @ 09:33:54

      And I am merely a frame for my husband.. .:-)
      I wish you would check out this group. With your nimble brain and excellent eye, I think you would be great. Like me, you always like to keep learning and this has been good for my brain and my work.


  22. Brendan
    Mar 06, 2015 @ 05:22:04

    Reduction is really an alchemical procedure — the acid bath that washes away the surface imperfections, breaks down the hardened surface narrative to get down to essences further in. That’s the way I see the 2 versions of your poem; the first tells everything about what got the pair to the door, the second is everything that is exactly there. Perhaps too the poet had evolved between first write and reductive revision; the soul has moved on, deeper into the castle. Perhaps there’s a 3d revision for what the pair learn from their surrenders.


  23. Hannah Gosselin
    Mar 06, 2015 @ 09:53:29

    Both excellent and I love the choices you made to bring us the boiled down version. Beautiful!


  24. vbholmes
    Mar 06, 2015 @ 10:09:04

    The details aren’t necessary as you’ve captured the essence of the moment in your reduction. Very emotional, very well done.


  25. Bryan Ens
    Mar 06, 2015 @ 12:12:38

    I’m always amazed by how much a short poem like a haiku or (in this case) a tanka can convey. Lovely reduction!


  26. Linda Kruschke
    Mar 06, 2015 @ 19:39:29

    I like your reduction, but I think I like the original better. But then I’m a detail kind of person and like the extra lead in to the story. Peace, Linda


  27. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade)
    Mar 07, 2015 @ 07:06:36

    It was a nice, romantic piece before – but it’s remarkable how much more powerful this extreme reduction has made it. Fascinating to note how little we need all that detail to understand the message.


  28. C.C.
    Mar 08, 2015 @ 01:41:20

    This is extremely effective reduction and such a great example of when less is more! Excellent work.


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