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Ciphering Byron

February 7, 2012

A simple sweep of compasses intent on rational dance,
measure, portion, weigh and clip in silvered inclination,
unproven fizz of yeasty blood side-steps his first advance
canted cool white linen crisps in pristine isolation.

Aglaze with parallelograms, acute magnolia thought
scores sharp lines, dissects his chaos – glitterati prizes;
with elegant volition pulls her pious premise taut,
seeks her solace, his redemption – naivety advises.

He’s mad and bad, a courtesan’s celebrity cavort
naked flamed incestuous, in genie’s shifting guises
exotica incarnadine, to her right-angled white

blended currents seethe and churn, acidic in suspension –
her calculus of marble swamped beneath his Corsair’s bight,
supernova bursts beyond her scattered comprehension.


A note on the form:
This is the Sonnet version of the Stress Matrix/Checkerboard Dectet, developed January 2011 by Luke Prater

14 lines, 14 syllables per line – aBaB cDc DcD eF eF

where lowercase are iambic heptameter (7 beats/stresses per line), and uppercase trochaic heptameter. This yields a perfect ‘checkerboard’ of stressed and unstressed syllables (14 x 14, equalling 196 syllables).

Depending on where the Volta arrives (the ‘turn’ – resolution, or at least, change in tone, crucial aspect to a sonnet), there are 3 different stanza layouts (the rhyme-scheme stays the same). The turn in my first, Forks and Spades, arrives with the last two lines, as is traditional in English Sonnets, hence the layout with a couplet to end on.

If the turn comes after the first eight lines, as it does in Italian Sonnets, the layout is

aBa BcDcD cDe FeF

If it comes after line ten (unique!), then it’s aBaB cDc DcD eFeF (same as English but ending on a quatrain rather than the two couplets).

~~ Joining dVerse Poets OpenLinkNight:

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  1. wooo! So it’s done, eh? Fantabulousarama

  2. omg…you guys invent new forms that just slay me…it is beautifully done…like watching a dance…i like your words as well bec…fascinaitng really…

    • Thanks Brian… just great to hear you found it like a dance.. that’s just what I had in mind with two very different characters spiralling around each other..

  3. this one just about takes the biscuit – style and content to woop over… woop woop! 🙂
    just great to read this baby again in its final incarnation – superb! the genie makes the cut
    and parrallelograms (such a sweet syllabic word – poetic/non gratuitous) – triple word score and a double wow – thats a hit then! 🙂

    • I’ll definitely take the triple word score, Arron.. thank you! You’re a great supporter.. and yes, was great to write a poem containing parallelograms.. my love-hate relationship with Maths.. 🙂

  4. Congrats of tackling and succeeding in that devilish form, Becky. I enjoyed especially the alliteration.

    • Thank you so much, Victoria. It was a great form to try and I might well jump in again one of these mad days. Very pleased to hear your positive response.

  5. Wow you are truly all formed up and ready to go. Such a well written piece at your show. Great job with the made up form too, killed it I would say.

  6. whew…the Stress Matrix/Checkerboard form….i just get stress by thinking about this…awesome job becky…i think you’ve filled this difficult form with real life…and it flows beautifully naturally..

    • Really pleased to hear that it’s still alive and not caged in the form.. that’s the challenge I guess. Thanks Caludia.. 🙂

  7. I like the last verse especially – the story comes through the form here well, and drew me in – a poem I wanted to read many times.

    • Thank you Matthew.. chuffed to hear that. Welcome to my blog and I hope to see you back soon. 🙂

  8. Brendan permalink

    Congrats on mastering the form, but greater hosannahs for the bright and quite unusual assay into the math of conquest formulated from the ramparts of chaste walls. How did he do it?? I think is the modern reader’s question, occurring before this poem begins … And not all the science and math can keep Poetry — or this mad, bad poet from battering down the front door. Fine work, Becky. – Brendan

    • Really pleased to hear you appreciated the precision engineering of form and content.. was a great project on both counts and I’m delighted it works. Having read Anabella Milbanke’s story, I truly felt their relationship was doomed from the start. Of course the same charismatic pull overpowers reason every I shouldn’t be surprised.. 🙂 Thanks, Brendan, great to see you back again.

  9. hedgewitch permalink

    Byron is a great subject, Becky, and you do him proud, even though i feel this form may be if not mad or bad, at least dangerous to know. ;_) I really like your combinations of descriptors, how they just incandesce on the page and flare with originality. Very fine writing in a very demanding form, but then, sometimes forms are the jeweler’s tool that perfects the diamond.

  10. Shawna permalink

    You know I love this one, Becky. The yeast blood protection, pristine isolation, pious premise pulled taut, exotica incarnadine, calculus of marble, supernova bursts. You tell quite a story through this dance.

    • Thanks for dropping in with your comments, Shawna. Even better that the story has a bit of life…

  11. FANTASTIC! I know the difficulty of this form and how mind-bending it is to create a comprehensive piece. I am so impressed!

    • Beth, that’s so kind of you… thank you. It’s a challenge.. but I honestly enjoyed writing this and just thrilled that it makes the grade.

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