Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bonkers Ballad or Silly Sonnet

Poetry about Pontification

I'm a freak.

Exhibit A: I run around begging to give talks in church.

Exhibit B: When finally assigned a talk in church, I don't show my gratitude by simply saying "thank you"; no, I negotiate for a better topic and extra minutes.

Exhibit C: When denied those pleas through regular channels, I start trying to swap with my co-orators. "Are you using all your minutes?" I whisper, conspiratorially, during the opening hymn.

(When Jon and I moved into the Raleigh ward, we were assigned talks on the same date. In typical fashion, the bishopbric assigned the young wife eight minutes and the return-missionary husband fifteen. Understandable, especially since they didn't yet know us. Jon was slightly reluctant to defy priesthood assignments, but he really didn't want to speak that long, so after minimal arm-twisting, he agreed to swap. Then, when I dropped tactful hints to Bishop Garrison, he agreed it would be a good idea to have Jon go first and then let me be the anchor speaker. Aaaah.)

Exhibit D: This time, I didn't just try to negotiate; I wrote a poem about it.


Background

The background story is that a month or so ago, I had a conversation with the new second counselor of our ward (John) and another guy (Nathan). When I begged to be considered for "a twenty or twenty-five minute talk about some fascinating subject, like the scattering and gathering of Israel," Nathan said, "The only way I'd listen to a twenty-five minute talk is if you delivered the entire thing in iambic pentameter."

That got me thinking, naturally. It has percolated in my head ever since.

Then, last night, John contacted me and asked if I could fill in, this coming Sunday, as a Sacrament Meeting speaker. He was Very Firm about "eight to ten minutes" only, despite my admittedly obnoxious negotiations. He did, however, admit that Nathan was the other adult speaker.

Now, you can see where this is going, right? Of course you can, because I am Gail.

I wrote a poem--in iambic pentameter--asking Nathan "Hey...ya wanna sell some extra minutes...?"

Then I realized I had been trying for a sonnet and failed, since I had not followed the abab rhyming scheme. Naturally, I re-worked it.

Yes, I am completely crazy. My mother-in-law says "Only the boring are bored." I hate being bored, but I agree that one should be part of the solution, not the problem. Ergo, I dedicate a certain amount of time each day to relieving the monotony of the world around me.

Here are my two efforts:


Bonkers Ballad

You challenged me to write a talk for church
Compos—źd only in iambic feet?
At last! I have a chance to make it so—
But troubles teem ‘gainst this attempted feat.

An hour ago, the second counselor
Inquired if I could substitute in haste.
I asked about the topic and said yes,
Then asked how many minutes I could waste.

Responded he, “A measly eight to ten
Should ample prove for all that you must say.”
But when I pressed, reluctantly confessed
That you were also speaking on the day.

If you are extra minutes loath to kill,
Most hap’ly would I take them, for to fill.


Silly Shakespearean Sonnet

You challenged me to give, in church, a talk
Compos—źd only in iambic feet?
At last! I have a chance, but—please don’t mock—
Thick troubles teem around my fought-for feat.

An hour ago, the counselor named John
Inquired if I could substitute in haste.
“Of course!” I said, then feared the lot I’d drawn
And asked how many minutes I could waste.

Responded he, “A measly eight to ten
Should ample prove for all that you must say.”
But, pressed, confessed the names of those who’d pen
The other talks a-slated for that day.

If you are extra minutes loath to kill,
Most hap’ly would I take them, for to fill.


Aftermath

I should have simply saluted and said "Yes, sir! I will speak for no more than ten minutes." It was a test of obedience, and I failed. (You don't suppose my insubordination issues are the reason I still don't have that adult teaching calling...? Though, honestly, the position of Primary Pianist Peon is growing on me.)

I felt very guilty about it afterward. My conscience never prevents me from being naughty in advance, it just ruins my enjoyment afterward. Alas.

Also, people now think I'm crazy. I can live with that.

The real question is which poem version was better. The sonnet was obviously more difficult. Complete with the "question--problem--exposition--solution" structure. I felt, though, that it sacrificed clarity. The ballad had only one or two lines of inverted syntax, which seemed cute. The sonnet did it all the time, and seemed contrived.

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