d’Verse Poetics: Go Set a Watchman

Lynn is our guest pubtender today for d’Verse Poetics. Her prompt is taken from Harper Lee’s newly found book, Go Set a Watchman. She wants us to write about who or what is our social watchman, if we have a message to proclaim, to write a dialogue between a watchman and those he watches…the title of the book is from Isaiah 21:6 (KJV). She also uses a quote from the book where Atticus talks to Scout – “Every man’s island, Jean Louise, every man’s watchman is his conscience.

I chose to use a Japanese poetic form dodoitsu (都々逸) for this prompt and the lonely job of the watchman. The Japanese word for watchman is yomawari – both poetry form and word for watchman come from the Edo period. The Dodoitsu is a 26 syllable, non-rhyming poem of 5-7-7-7 syllable line counts. It can be about work or love and is usually humorous. However, the subject and tone is not required; there are many poems about nature and life and are sometimes wistful, bittersweet, or melancholy depending on the subject and theme. Unlike haiku, the first line does not have to contain a season word nor, unlike the similar senryu, it is not a 5-7-5 syllable count.

I hope you all will come visit us today for all the different takes on this most interesting and thoughtful prompt. Not only visit to read the Pubtalk but also to read and comment on the poems. I hope you will also link one of your poems. COMING SOON!!!! HAIBUN MONDAY!!   http://dversepoets.com/2015/09/01/poetics-what-does-the-watchman-see

nder winter stars
the watchman plods sleeping streets –
from his flask he sips sake’ –
and longs for his cozy hut.


Night Watchmen Under Maple Tree - Hokusai

Night Watchmen Under Maple Tree – Hokusai




29 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. claudia
    Sep 01, 2015 @ 15:16:06

    being a watchman is a lonely job with a high responsibility
    and yeah – often under difficult conditions… i can understand how much he longs for his warm hut while out in the cold
    love that you used the japanese word for watchman – very cool


  2. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Sep 01, 2015 @ 15:26:30

    This brings back the memory of being the watchman outside the king’s castle.. what I do remember most is how slow time seemed to be moving, how cold it was and how I longed for my bed.. yes exactly like that it was.


  3. lynn__
    Sep 01, 2015 @ 15:44:45

    I like the Japanese flavor you added to the prompt…thank you for participating, Toni!


  4. Glenn Buttkus
    Sep 01, 2015 @ 17:01:15

    This was a very unique & imaginative way to run with the prompt; quite impressive. I once worked a summer on night shift as a gate guard. The silence, cold, & darkness used to freak me.


  5. ayala
    Sep 01, 2015 @ 17:03:04

    I love this!


  6. Sanaa Rizvi
    Sep 01, 2015 @ 17:13:00

    Such an effective verse… powerful write 🙂


  7. Grace
    Sep 01, 2015 @ 17:17:58

    I learned something new today, smiles ~ How lonely indeed is the job, better inside sipping sake in the cozy hut ~ Hey, glad to see everything is back to normal here ~


  8. Victoria C. Slotto
    Sep 01, 2015 @ 18:32:45

    Ah, the sake. A surprising twist on the prompt that made me smile. Can’t blame the poor guy!


  9. Audrey Howitt
    Sep 01, 2015 @ 18:46:52

    This is beautiful! I need to check out the prompt!


  10. Mary
    Sep 01, 2015 @ 20:31:31

    I like the scene you set here. The watchman plodding sleeping streets seems a bit tired himself. I would guess that the saké he sips will either put him to sleep or wake him up. Smiles.


  11. Let's CUT the Crap!
    Sep 01, 2015 @ 21:28:16

    This is so natural. It’s like a movie I see in my head and wish there were film to capture it forever. ❤ ❤ ❤


  12. X
    Sep 01, 2015 @ 21:48:56

    The sake I think is a poor substitute for that bed,
    but whatever it takes to keep you moving, though hopefully
    not enough to fool the eyes for when they are needed.

    having worked nights, even as a watchman once upon
    a time in a truck yard – it is interesting what goes on
    once the sun goes down. Ha.

    Interesting form, I had not heard of it.


    • kanzensakura
      Sep 01, 2015 @ 21:59:22

      I’m full of Japanese poetic forms. Being a “watchman” at night in my university law library, gave me a wonderful chance to read hundreds of books taken from general library to help keep me awake at night. Strong coffee, obscure treatises, and, er, other things kept me going until claases started and ended. To this day, i am a creature of the night. I’m going to be pulling old dodoitsu and reworking some of them, along with some other things from 80 – 98. It got cold in that huge building, especially with snow outside. Strong coffee with a tot of good brandy kept me warm and when needed, mo-bile.


  13. MarinaSofia
    Sep 02, 2015 @ 01:45:09

    A snippet of life in your dodoitsu that rings very true!
    This reminds me also of the nightwatchmen in medieval English towns, patrolling the streets and calling out ‘Three o’clock and all’s well’ – with loud bursts of music. Still, it must have been more calming and restful than worrying about fires, assassinations and other dangers, which were rife at the time (when no fire brigades or police existed).


  14. kaykuala h
    Sep 02, 2015 @ 11:10:32

    He has his own job to do. These are the yearnings of those who work when others are relaxing. They just trudge along



  15. katiemiafrederick
    Sep 02, 2015 @ 11:25:44

    Working for the Navy..
    my friends with the
    WATCH.. truly
    mostly abhorred
    that lonely job..
    but never the less..
    someone must
    all be
    lost.. in
    my opinion..
    now smiles..:)


  16. Linda Kruschke
    Sep 02, 2015 @ 15:48:35

    Thanks for sharing with us this Japanese poetry form. I love your very practical dodoitsu about the watchman’s thoughts on warmth and home. Peace, Linda


  17. charliezero1.wordpress.com
    Sep 02, 2015 @ 18:31:06

    I always love when you write Haiku poems.

    Excellent piece and wonderfully written.

    P.S I got a new poem up that I just posted today. Check it out.


  18. mishunderstood
    Sep 02, 2015 @ 23:48:42

    You have told us so much about the watchman in a small package. I love it.


  19. justjoyfulness
    Sep 02, 2015 @ 23:52:19

    This was so refreshingly simple and insightful. A man’s worklife in 4 lines.


  20. http://vivinfrance.wordpress.com
    Sep 03, 2015 @ 03:00:52

    Form and theme work well together. I’m sure every night watchman longs for his cozy home!


  21. Trackback: I’m Not Ready — Dual Dodoitsu | Another Fearless Year

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