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Saturday, May 16, 2020

Revising for Sound and Sense

Poetry revision seldom involves rewriting the poem. More often, revising simply means the poem needs a little tweaking to clarify what’s said and/or to enhance the poem’s musicality.

This new haiku provides an example.

In the morning light,
a bird begins its chirping.
Maybe I can sleep.

Reading those lines aloud reveals a lack of sound effects that, well, would make the poem more effective. Also, the connection between the last line and the first two seems too subtle.

Once the problem of a poem has been identified, a solution will usually come to guide the revision.

In the morning light,
birds begin their lullabies.
Maybe now I’ll sleep.

The tweaks clearly connect the last line to the first two and add a hint of humor. 

When the poem is read aloud, the consonance (aka alliteration or repetition of an initial consonant) can be heard in the “b’s” and in the “l” sounds – the latter of which might lull me at last to sleep.


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