Auntie Jayne solves your poem


Auntie Jayne solves your poem started in the magazine Mapping Awareness in 1994. Auntie Jane is an agony aunt who responds to poetic enquiries. Some will be published here.

Spot the Iambic hexameter.

A Poem
B. Carter Smith

Dear Lord

Make us

Eat our beef to melt the Arctic ice caps
Heat our homes to wipe the mid west farmers off the map

Give us

Cash fly to Spain and torch the Russian forests
… gas to fill our cars to shop at Tescos
… bricks and steel to conjure new tornadoes

Help us

Drown as many Bangladeshis as we can

Auntie Jayne writes:

Dear Mr Smith

I think you have inadvertently set a trick question. There is no iambic hexameter. You may have been expecting “Drown as many Bangladeshis as you can” as the answer. You are wrong this line is not iambic but trochaic. Do look at the explanation by Debora B. Schwartz.

That said, this shows some small promise but needs more work. Your examples may or may not be valid but you’ve done this sort of thing before – get a life! I did like your pastiche of MacNiece that you sent me:

The glass is rising hour by hour, now it will rise forever
We haven’t broke the bloody glass, we’ve broke the f***ing weather.

Here you had a genius to follow but do study his two lines.

The glass is falling hour by hour, the glass will fall for ever,
But if you break the bloody glass you won’t hold up the weather.

These read better than yours because MacNiece has stronger more explosive syllables where you have “now it” and “We haven’t”. He has “the glass” and “But if” which are stronger. You could have actually written “the glass will rise forever” without any copyright problems.

Perhaps your little fragment was paying homage to one of the best poems of it’s genre – ever. So I suppose I must congratulate you. His poem, Bagpipe Music, can be seen on Art of Europe.

Although sea level rise is not the only problem climate change will bring – and probably not the worst – I feel very sad about Bangladesh. Have you seen Bradly Secker’s photojournal, Bangladesh: The drowning nation.


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