1. Torana
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    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

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    Abecedarian

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Torana, May 29, 2007.

    The abecedarian is an ancient poetic form guided by alphabetical order. Generally each line or stanza begins with the first letter of the alphabet and is followed by the next, until the final letter is reached. The earliest examples are Semitic and often found in religious poetry. The form was most used in ancient cultures for sacred compositions, such as prayers, hymns, and psalms. There are numerous examples of abecedarians in the Hebrew Bible; one of the most highly regarded is Psalm 118.

    Abecedarian poems are now most commonly used as mnemonic devices (a rhyme or phrase to help meorise) and word games for children.
    In Forché’s forty-seven page poem, "On Earth," she adheres to a rigorous form in which alphabetical order guides not only the stanzas, but also the words themselves. For example, she writes:

    "languid at the edge of the sea
    lays itself open to immensity
    leaf-cutter ants bearing yellow trumpet flowers along the road
    left everything left all usual worlds behind
    library, lilac, linens, litany."

    A form derived from the abecedarian is the acrostic, which spells out names or words through the first letter of each line. The intent of the acrostic is to reveal while attempting to conceal within the poem. William Blake addresses the despairs of the plague in the poem London, telling the reader how he listens to everyone’s pain while wandering along the Thames River. Blake uses an acrostic in the third stanza emphasize the horrifying sounds:

    "How the Chimney-sweeper's cry
    Every blackning Church appalls;
    And the hapless Soldier's sigh
    Runs in blood down Palace walls."
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    and what would you make of this, dear torana???

    all bow churlishly down...
    ever fearful, go how i
    just know lambs must
    not...
    overtly peer
    quizzically 'round,
    so to undo
    very wicked xenophobes'
    yellow-bellied zeal

    ;-)
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I like it, mamamaia.

    A beautifully crafted ditty, exquisitely formed
    Grand how it judiciously kneads lost meaning,
    neatly opening pointed questions round
    subtle twists, using varied words xenogamously
    yet zestily.
     
  4. Crazy Ivan
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    Crazy Ivan Contributing Member

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    Location:
    The dumpster behind your McDonalds.
    On my troth;
    Unbelieving am I, seeing such skill
    Turning my views of writing upside down.

    Oh dear, I am worried
    For I fear I have ventured too deep;

    Methinks I can not keep company amongst
    You amazing wordsmiths.

    Let me flee from here before I
    Embarass myself,
    Attempting to do too much,
    Going on too far,
    Unsettlingly far from the skill level around me;
    End it here, I shall.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    don't jump!

    we love you, crazy-i!... flaws and all... if you have any, that is... besides, some say suicide is sin that will consign you to the horrors of hell for all eternity and that's surely sentence overkill for merely not being up to par on alphabetical nonsensicality, doncha think?

    hey, cog...
    re 'xenogamously'... i loooooove it!... how long did it take for you to unearth that gem?... and are you accusing me of being a bee?... if so, i hope it's the queen you had in mind! ;-)

    isn't this fun?
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Well, I do admit to resorting to my Webster's Unabridged to try to find a suitable "X" word. I spent about 5 minutes on "X", about the same time it took for the rest of the alphabet combined. I was thinking more of the etymology of the word, "strange marriage", in terms of collecting 26 words to encapsulate the poem's theme.

    And yes, it really was fun! Thanks for leading the way, and thanks to Torana as well for introducing the thread.
     

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