Poetry Challenge – Form and Style Assignment from W.H. Auden


Calling all poets! Pop over to ūüĎČ Gabrielle Bryden’s blog and take on the challenge.

Originally posted on Gabrielle Bryden's Blog:

Famous Anglo-American poet W.H. Auden once taught in the 92nd Street Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center (officially known as the New York City’s  92nd Street Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association).

Here is a copy of an assignment he gave to students, in January 1956, who were attending his ‚ÄėForm and Style in Poetry‚Äô course.

Auden Assignment

Do you want to give it a go? ;)

I‚Äôd love to see what people come up with. If you feel the urge to complete the assignment you can email me (gbryden at bigpond dot com) the ‚Äėresult‚Äô in the next couple of weeks and if it fits the bill I will post it on my blog.

I’ll throw my hat in the ring and then we can say we were taught by W.H. Auden :D


View original

Remembering 3/11


End of a Dream

C-sharp minor
plays through the eaves
of this house
wind-cold emptiness, the ambient noise
of destruction
where laughter once lived.

Shoji, last opened
to plum-blossom whispers
now lachrymose with silent

a bird singing
for no-one.


Act of God

Power of Poetry

3/11 – The Japan Times



An Umbrella On The Wind

It was one of those days you wouldn’t want to be¬†in school: a day when the wild boys turned their faces to the sky beyond the¬†classroom window, staring¬†at¬†its astounding blue intensity, their hearts aching at the thought of those perfect wasted waves rolling in just beyond their grasp; a day when the¬†humidity seeped through us, making concentration on anything but dreams of beaches, swimming pools and¬†Coke floats impossible.¬†So it was a relief¬†to escape the classroom with my best friend, J, and the rest of the school to compete¬†in our inter-House swimming gala at the¬†local council swimming pool.

J joined our primary school mid-way through my time there. Sharing a love of dancing and an absurdist sense of humour, we became firm friends. She and her brother, S, who was a year above us, excelled academically, with both being awarded school colours for multiple subjects. J shined at sport and S was a budding amateur magician and comedian. He was also a dreadful tease and, as brothers do, annoyed J (and me) a lot of the time but also made us laugh. He was in his first year of high school at the time of the swimming gala and had promised to come and watch us swim, a cover, we surmised, for an ideal opportunity to chat up some girls.

The day sweltered in typical sub-tropical style¬†while we competed our hearts out, glad for our time in the pool,¬†an escape from the shimmering heat. As is the¬†progression of such¬†steaming days,¬†a summer breeze, a welcome relief to those not in the water, drifted in and gradually built to¬† gusting.¬†And as we swam and cheered,¬†it found its way to the judges’ table, lifted the beach umbrella sheltering the staff from the heat of the day and tossed it¬†like a tumbleweed¬†towards the cheering audience.

Memory is notoriously unreliable. I thought S was in the stands watching, but my mother, 25 years my senior, says no, S had just arrived and was standing on the grass near the stands. It makes more sense, now that I think of it. The detailed events of that day, discussed many times in the ensuing years, were ultimately swamped by a terrible sadness, and diluted into murky swirls in the corners of my mind.

When the umbrella finally came to a halt, S lay unresponsive on the grass. Some assumed that he had fallen from the stands and been rendered unconscious as a result; others assumed he had fainted from the searing heat. But he could not be revived, and my father, suspecting something more serious, stabilized him and rushed him to the nearest medical rooms where they called an ambulance.

They say that there’s a million ways to die, but how many ways are there to¬†render a life less lived? As J and I waited with my parents in the bleached corridors of the hospital that afternoon,¬†J’s mother was informed by the¬†attending neurosurgeon that S had a¬†small entry wound in his¬†forehead and an equally small exit wound¬†in the back of his head,¬†on the opposite side, at the base of his skull.

S’s intelligence remained intact; he even went on to get a university degree, but¬†in spite of¬†months in hospital and years of therapy, he would never walk or talk properly again, his motor co-ordination¬†and speech severely damaged by the piercing spoke of a beach umbrella.

Whenever I hear someone¬†repeat that thoughtless, vacuous line‚ÄĒeverything happens for¬†a reason‚ÄĒI think of an umbrella on the wind and reply silently: No. No it does not.


A History Of Fear

In The Blink Of An Eye

Weekly Photo Challenge: Scale

bb - scale

Red Bishop – Kwazulu – Natal, South Africa


Beauty at scale rarely seen
by human eye, but inbetween
lush blades of grass daily spy
a microworld of strange small fry

As this mini-jungle wakes
from dark of night, a lone ant slakes
his thirst from fresh dewdrops bright
reflecting snails in love’s delight

Airfields of apian craft at ready
take flight from rouged poppies, heady
with blue jewels sparkling far and wide
on backs of bees on buzzing ride

A mighty dung beetle battles
sticks arresting rolling chattels
from onward journey, this daily testing
to construct his place of resting

Inkblot-eyes of springtails watch
(in somersault) nymphs slowly hatch
themselves from deep and watery vault
and caterpillars as they moult

A miniverse that’s quite astounding,
with creatures, strange and weird, abounding.


For more entries to last week’s WPC, see The Daily Post.