Sunday, August 24, 2014


Text by Leon Wing
Poem by Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch


before water filled the open lung
of the baby grand.

This little poem is a haiku comprising 17 syllables, no matter the stress patterns, if any. Normally the lines would be cut into three parts, with a 5-7-5 number of syllables a line. Most of the time you 'd associate a haiku with serene and beautiful images of nature or some poignant experience.  

But as you can tell from reading this piece here that the first line only goes up to 3 syllables. The remaining two are brought down to the middle line, totalling the second line to 9 syllables. The last line never wavers from the normal 5 syllables.

If you happen to know something about reading music, you'd know that a cadence is made up of two chords usually found at the end of a piece of music. It can be applied to signal the end of the piece of music. 

And the cadence, or rather more than one of which, used in this poem signals the end of an event or passage. The line above doesn't say if it is an imperfect or perfect cadence. Usually if imperfect, it indicates that the sound wants to keep going in order to finish the music. If perfect, it means the sound is finishing the music. 

Whether perfect or imperfect, the cadence in the poem will still signal some kind of ending, of life, or of more than one life as implied by the plurality of the word.

The sudden and unexpected cutting of the line after just three syllables instead of the normal five indicates a sudden and precipitate cadence, a sudden interruption of its playing a song, some kind of sudden and unexpected event. And in this case, it is the crashing of an iceberg on the ship Titanic.

Instead of telling or showing us the drowning of the ship's unfortunate passengers and crew, the second and last lines take on the metaphoric image of a baby grand piano with its opened lid like an open lung, filling in with water.

'Titanic' is taken from Not In These Shoes by Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch.

Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch's collections include Rockclimbing in Silk (Seren, 2001), Not in These Shoes (Picador, 2008) and Banjo (Picador, 2012). She was shortlisted twice for Wales Book of the Year. She received a Hawthornden Fellowship. She  won a Leverhulme writer in residence award in 2012 to collaborate with the National Wool Museum, with Rack Press putting out Lime & Winter in 2014. that same year in June she was poet in residence at the Dylan Thomas Boathouse. Literature Wales has awarded her a bursary to research and write her next collection. 

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

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12:06 AM, June 18, 2015  
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4:41 AM, July 27, 2019  

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