Rook – ghazal for dVerse I

Rook spreads his wings and takes to the sky-road,
for who else can say they are king of the sky-road?

Early morning, he rises from the highest branches,
calling his own name, king of the sky-road

Crowned in midnight, cloaked in darkness,
he is well-arrayed, the king of the sky-road,

as he rides the storm clouds, a black knight battling
the might of the wind, he is king of the sky-road,

with his wide-splayed wing tips, his black silk feathers,
he swallows the sunlight, this king of the sky-road,

and as the sun sets, he calls to his kingdom
“Good night, I am here, the king of the sky-road”

and the princess in me yearns to fly with him,
to see the last rays of sunlight, be queen of the sky-road.

Over the last few months, dVerse has been offering a “Form for All” prompt, looking at a series of different forms. This month we are looking at the ghazal, a repeating, associative form, quite different to a lot of “western” poetry. If you want to read a great introduction, check out yesterday’s dVerse prompt, where Gay Cannon is our guest host.

Regular readers may recognise some of the imagery in this poem. I find it helpful to get to know a form and see how things develop. This involves being quite playful with it, and exploring its strengths – and weaknesses. To help this process, I’m re-cycling some lines and images, and seeing how the different forms give a different overlay to a similar concept.

The last verse is my “signature” verse. I’m a Sarah, which means princess. We are supposed to weave a reference to our name, or use the name itself in that final stanza, so I’ve used “princess”.

26 thoughts on “Rook – ghazal for dVerse I

  1. That is one hell of a form, but this works well, very musical. I like your idea of recycling images, sometimes it takes time to find the right vehicle for an image.

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  2. I have enjoyed all of your “rook poems”. This one works well, but some of the other forms seem to jive with the theme better. I like the lines /as he rides the storm clouds, a black knight battling/the might of the wind/–but I think we were supposed to stay away from enjambment.

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  3. I really like how you have made the form your own through a cascading series of images with a storyline — “king of the sky-road” is such a lovely refrain and that closing is well done. The yearning in your words is deeply felt.

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  4. Since I haven’t read your other Rook poems (although now I’m curious to do so), this is a stand alone poem for me except as I referenced in my notes to Mindy on her poem “Bird on a Branch”, the black bird of all varieties has a very long history in English poems and combined they bring their influence and their allusions to bear on explicating poems about those birds.

    Instead of letting each couplet of the Ghazal examine a facet of the Rook life, you have let them create a story line that is detailed, imagistic, emotional, and it puts the reader in the first personl (although I like your skillful signature with “princess”). The symbol of the flying king becomes the metaphor for the love story with a wish (and perhaps a promise) in the final couplet. The intelligence of these birds, their language, their skills are intriguing and a perfect way for humans to imagine themselves as viewed from afar. I think it was quite a skillfully written poem, and another way to view the form. Thank you!

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    • Thank you. I wouldn’t describe myself as a narrative poet, but I’ve just done my second ghazal and struggled to get away from a narrative flow! It’s interesting to think about the “other” poems that come with our own writing. I guess if you read poetry (or experience any other form of art) it influences your own creativity.
      It’s a real pleasure to have such thoughtful commentary, thank you.

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  5. I enjoyed this greatly Sarah! The moon and the crow/raven/rook/blackbird are, for me, two very captivating subjects of poems. You’ve treated my black-feathered friend royally here – well written!

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  6. Knowing very little about ghazals and coming fresh from rook-related thoughts of my own, I thoroughly enjoyed this piece. I shall make time to look at your other ‘rook’ poems too.

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  7. I agree that this is wonderful! I have a poem about magpies that connects me and my cousin to our lost grandmother so I love your subject. Corvids are fascinating. If you feel the form too constrains the flow why not gently bend it with enjambment, extra syllables, internal rhymes, or any other tweaks you desire. You, the poet queen, rule the form, the form does not rule you :).

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  8. Glad to have read another edition to the rook series. I do hope you’re considering a book on the theme? Well done with the form – for what it’s worth – don’t know much myself but it does seem song like even if the love is for a bird and not a human or a god.

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