ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Books, Literature, and Writing»
  • Poems & Poetry

Answering Our Poets in Your Own Verse

Updated on July 26, 2011

Poor Lumbricus Terrestris (earthworms) They are great friends!

Not so pretty, but many of us will have them for company for a long time!
Not so pretty, but many of us will have them for company for a long time!

Poetry is a marvellous art form to play with

Answering Our Poets in Your Own Verse.

Although a lot of it is crude in that it obeys the internal rhythms and forces of the author, rather than any traditional meter or form, we are lucky to have many aspiring - or established - poets publishing their work on HP.

Much poetry, ever since the days of Gilgamesh, is a vehicle carrying the emotions of the composer: euphoria, misery, philosophical insight, humor and all the rest. Poetry, indeed, predated other writing and can be found more than 5,000 years ago as early man attempted to communicate his feelings to the small tribe he lived in.

Poetry can be quite a maze for the reader as well as he/she attempts to root out the hidden meanings; often very obscure. We also ride along enjoying any of the devices the author has used, such as assonance, alliteration, onomatopoeia and rhythm in order to make her perhaps prosaic message into an art form. (Onomatopoeia is the study of arranging the letters in a word, sound like its "sound." i.e., cuckoo).

All these devices come under the loose heading of Prosody - the mechanics of verse: meter, rhythm and intonation, etc.

Memorable poetry has been written by poets who have never studied the art, in fact, most of the great works paved the way for legions of imitators who eventually found their own ’voice.

One reason for poets from the past not to have studied available information on their hobby, or even life dedication, is there was no available information. The man on the street only possessed rudimentary reading and writing skills; most published work was only available to accredited scholars and the clergy: they, in fact, wrote most of it before the eighteenth century.

But today there is no need to blindly burst into poetic song. Libraries and the Internet carry just about every poem of any note at all ever written. Just typing the first line or the author’s name into Google (etc.) will usually reward with hundreds of hits.

Please excuse the long-winded intro into the specifics of what I originally set out to say today. It is that one of the most fun ways to read poetry and have a go yourself immediately afterwards is to "answer" the poet, who, although often long dead, has left his work behind to be enjoyed and criticized and could hardly object even if granted a furlough from Heaven or, in the case of many poets I suspect, the other place.

Here is one such I wrote in humorous reply to one of Robert Frost’s great poems. First, the original:

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Such a simple poem, isn’t it? Yet it is one of the most read in the English language and the most revered, too

I thought. Mmmm: that’s fine for the poet all muffled up; protected from the weather, but what about the poor old dray horse, I bet he is thinking of his warm stable and could give a fig for Frost’s dark reflections, as Frost had mentioned. So:

A ‘Frosty reply to Bob

Why does he stop and ponder here?

There is no house nor warm place near.

Why are we standing in the snow?

Can’t he feel it; doesn’t he know?

I must confess I think it’s rare,

For him to stop thus, just to stare.

These icy draughts; that frozen lake,

I’m like a dray mare at a wake!

I think I’ll try to let him see

How my poor hooves are killing me:

Stamp and shake the harness bell,

To let him know that all’s not well.

You think he finds it pretty here?

Not for me; it’s cold and drear.

And miles to go before I eat.

And miles to go before I eat.

It’s a shame Frost passed on before I wrote this (he died in 1963), I think he might have enjoyed it.

Not to be intimidated by a heavyweight, I then considered one of Shakespeare’s sonnets in which he was saying nasty things about earthworms ("vile worms"). Like Charles Darwin, I am a fan of the humble earthworm living its simple life beneath the soil, which it unceasingly tills and circulates. A service without which man might not be able to exist.

Sonnet LXX1 (an excerpt)

"No longer mourn for me when I am dead

Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled

From this vile world with vilest worms to dwell:

Up with the quill: off to give the Bard a bashing!

A Worm’s Eye View.

Worms are noble, clean and fine;

Christian-like, they toe the line,

Making good the things men spoil:

Who did you think restores the soil?

Not like man, his duty shirking,

Worms are constant; always working.

Worms are humble, pleasant folk;

To say they’re vile is some cruel joke.

So remember Shakespeare, King of Words,

Instead of merely lauding birds.

Unless you want your coffin spurned,

You’ll find, dear Will, the worm has turned!

(Shakespeare used the phrase "The worm has turned" in Henry 6th., although he didn’t invent it).

I have quite a few more of these for a future article (Oh, no!…I heard that!)

Some of you aspiring wordsmiths might have a poem by one of the masters you think might be worth a reply. You can use their meter (as I did in Frosty Reply), or one of your own, as I did in the worm poem.

Happy con-versing!

All work herein is copyright. The "replies" are from ‘Charged Particles’ by Robert Challen de Mercer….

Thank you

PS Sorry the download was so chaotic. HP format doesn't handle poetry well..


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      lois rams: Thanks for visit and warming remark Bob

      HH How are you? Writing half way decent poetry or prose is a gift in a way, but also depends very much on reading and living...Bob

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      Hello, Bob, and thank you for ineresting hub. I always admire people who can do this. I think it is such a wonderful gift.

    • louis rams profile image

      louis rams 6 years ago from florida

      my compliments to you, and an honor to see your writings.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Cheers, Nellianna. It was a bit of a fill in hub as have slackened off lately Bob

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 6 years ago from TEXAS

      It is handled well, Diogenes. Very meaningful and expressive.

    • profile image

      writeronline 6 years ago

      Well, that's OK then. And thanks for the compliment! No way you should be envious either, I was only following your lead. Cheers :)

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi WOL: My answer to your comment didn't get posted somehow. I said i was so impressed by your answer to the Bard. And, no, not for a minute did I misconstrue your comment...i was a bit envious is all!! Bob

    • profile image

      writeronline 6 years ago

      Hope you didn't misunderstand mine, Bob! It's a bit convoluted, granted. But I was inspired to have a go at what you'd shown us. Hope it can't be misconstrued as having a go at you... ?


    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Sorry, Martie: my bad. I misunderstood your comment...Luv ya! Bob

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      What a nice thing to say, Rebecca...hope I am a good influence! Bob

    • Rebecca E. profile image

      Rebecca E. 6 years ago from Canada

      As always you leave me wanting to improve my mind-- great set of poems... now (grr!=)) I'll have to read more... but this is a good thing... you've become a good influence for me.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      Hi diogenes

      No, I was not at all mean. Was just thinking of all the unique interpretations and the tendency of people to disagree. Many poets and writers I know are amazed when they hear what people read in their writings. I love your hubs and thoughts. I'm always in agreement with you :)))

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Thanks dear. I have been missing your posts lately due to computer. I like your new picture...Bob

    • QudsiaP1 profile image

      QudsiaP1 6 years ago

      It is indeed though isn't it? How sometimes you may have never studied an art or even been aware of the talent you possess and then there comes along a day when people tell you that the mindless chatter/scribblings you wrote for your soul means something to them as well.

      Hence began the want to study and mimic; rinse and repeat.

      Wonderfully written.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi Sonia: Thanks for kind remarks. Frost's poem seems to be a standard in US schools, and many here, too.

    • profile image

      writeronline 6 years ago

      This is great, Bob. A very inventive way of teaching the untrained among us (that’s me, for sure) more about poetry.

      Inspired by your idea, I looked at Shakespeare’s Sonnet Number 18, chose a stanza (terminology?), which I interpret as his tribute to the eternal quality of beauty (though I may be wrong..), and answered it with my own alternative, which assumes that Death has in fact unexpectedly intruded..

      From Bill’s Sonnet 18:


      Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,

      When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:

      So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

      So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.


      My post-mortem ‘answer’, which challenges Bill’s ‘vile’ assertion about the worm, instead showing its essential role in the eternal cycle of life:


      Though Death shall brag thou lay’st in the Earth,

      Thy eternal lines to time are unconstrain’d:

      As the worm doth turn, and turn again inside thee,

      To loosen fleshly bonds, and set thee free.


      Dunno why I’m sending you this, but having written it, I guess I may as well. Proof of the power of your piece, perhaps? (And alliteration, also?) :)

      Anyway, Up and Awesome from me.

    • sonia05 profile image

      sonia05 6 years ago from india

      lovely and hilarious poems with a really interesting account of poetry and poets. You are a great poet yourself,I wish I had read your poem as a sequel to Robert Frost's poem 'Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening'! We had his poem in our course in English.

      awesome hub! voted up!

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi Cathylynn Yeah, in years, too!!

      Hi Austinstar: Yes, poetry IS fun

      saddlerider. Yes, Frost was a great poet who had a long life, even if he did cast doubts on it


    • saddlerider1 profile image

      saddlerider1 6 years ago

      Poetry is not for everyone

      Though not everyone is

      for poetry.

      Very enjoyable read and I loved how you created your own piece in tribute to such a fine poet like Frost. May he RIP and be looking down smiling on your creativity.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 6 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Poetry is so much fun and very satisfying like playing a good game of Scrabble.

    • cathylynn99 profile image

      cathylynn99 6 years ago from northeastern US

      brilliant, bob, and nice to hear from you, who is only 1 away from 100.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Yes. His fascination with suicide is obvious in Stopping in Woods... But he was such a wonderful nature poet, I loved him...Bob

    • BobbiRant profile image

      BobbiRant 6 years ago from New York

      I love Robert Frost, so obsessed with death he was. Many people thought he was a chubby poet writing almost whimsical stuff when a lot of it was about death. Great hub.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Don't understand your comment, it a bit mean, or have I misinterpreted? Philosophical rhetoric...sounds like an oxymoron...Bob

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      Answering poems will surely become mighty philosophical rhetoric. Thanks, now I know what to do when I don’t have a topic to hub.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Thanks for visit, Chris...Bob

    • Christopher Dapo profile image

      Christopher Dapo and S. 6 years ago from Havelock, NC

      Interesting hub. Good poems, too! :D