Boustrophedon

“A straight line first,” my father said, “then turn

,egde eht teem uoy llit og — yaw rehto eht

then back again, like oxen. Oxen earn

“.gnitfard ydaets yb drawer eud s’elzzum rieht

Like bold Bucephalus the lawnmower bellowed,

.tips — gag — wehc :aimilub ni suoiditsaf

Paternal sunlight left the grass unyellowed;

“.won ti yrt uoy tsuJ” :em degdun rehtaF

His father before him used the scythe, but still

.deilppa etuor-xo emas eht yllareneg

So labor’s old back-and-forth must trudge until

.tuo raew esnesitna DNA esnes citeneg

I pushed, and still I push, but shun the pull

of Solomon’s idle nothing-newness — bull!

Comments

  • The Anti-Yale

    Ecin.

  • Travers

    The Yale Lit will LOVE this.

  • penny_lane

    Someone’s taking the etymology of “verse” a little too seriously. Kudos for at least gesturing towards the rhyme scheme, and turning “and” into “DNA” in a line about genes is clever. However, it behooves writers to know at least a little bit about the science behind reading. A simple way of explaining what happens, particularly with poetry, is that while the brain processes one line, the eye is already perusing the line below it. By writing every other line backwards, you’re making it so that the eye skips over what it can’t recognize and jumps to what it can. You end up, then, with only half the poem, which really isn’t helpful. Most people are going to stop trying. Those who are determined are going to try to read each line in order, but it’s going to take deliberate, focused attention to bend the brain into reading the backwards lines. The brain can only pay attention to so many things at once (same reason why texting while driving is so dangerous, or why you missed the gorilla in that intro psych video), which means that recognizing words that should be familiar is going to take up more energy than those delicate aspects of reading and understanding that make poetry enjoyable. Travers may be right that the pretentious among us may love it, but I can promise you that Wordsworth and Shakespeare, who championed the poetic aspects of everyday speech, and Milton, who eschewed the harsh jangle of forced rhyme schemes, all true masters of English verse, would never have stooped to a gimmick like this.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Mr. Taylor,

    Be not bound by Shakespearean or other shackles from the past. Ignore pennies found on any lane, and keep right on pushing the boundaries of language and brain.
    The English language is YOURS to do with as you wish: the ultimate freedom.

    PK

  • Parmenides

    Fine example of a vomit poem.

  • penny_lane

    Eh, it’s not a vomit poem, it’s just a case of a young writer not knowing the difference between a good writing exercise and good writing.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Play, play, play with words. Ignore the critics.

  • AndyCantu11

    you’re good. thanks.