Living in the question

'. . . the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.' RAINER MARIA RILKE Letters to a Young Poet

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Openings . . . & . . . Closings

Recently I have attended two writing workshops and one activity was to look at opening sentences and closing sentences.  We were talking about novels and stories but today I just picked up a collection of poems and started looking at the opening and closing sentences of those. Some of you may know of the phenomena about being able to read words as long as the first and last letter are correct regardless of what comes inbetween - try it if you don't believe me - and I wondered if this idea can be extended to poetry.  I am not saying of course that one can get the whole poem from the first and the last but I wondered if the poems could still speak to me in some way. . .

 I was quite surprised by some of results. - (Oh and I cheated a bit because punctuation in poetry is something else. . . if it is there at all that is!)

Here are just a few.

'Meeting Point' by Louis Macneice

Time was away and somewhere else,
There were two glasses and two chairs
And two people with one pulse
(Somebody stopped the moving stairs):
Time was away and somewhere else.

. . . . . . 6 verses inbetween . . . . . .

Time  was away and she was here
And life no longer what it was,
The bell was silent in the air
And all the room one glow because
Time was away and she was here.

'Bleep' by Jackie Kay

I am the unreal voice speaking.
. . .

. . .
See my nose, it used to be a tomato.

' What the Chairman told Tom' by Basil Bunting

Poetry? It's a hobby. 
. . . 

. . .
Go and find work.

'This Compost' by Walt Whitman

Something startles me where I thought I was safest,
. . . .

. . . .

It gives such divine materials to men, and accepts such leavings from them at last.

Norman's question in the workshop was - does the opening sentence make you want to read more?
My question is - does the opening sentence connect with the closing one, do they speak with one voice?

Of course this is all just musings. . . . it is me tring to avoid working!!

Oh yes and here is an example of the word thing!!

Arocdnicg to rsceearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer are in the rghit pcale. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit pobelrm. Tihs is buseace the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Amazing isn't it!!


  1. I always have trouble composing the first sentence of prose pieces. The middle is fine, and the end sort of flows out of the middle, but the opening sentence is hard.

    I wonder if that scrambled-word thing is harder for people with dyslexia to read?

  2. I suspect it may be a problem with dyslexics but will test my daughter with it when she returns from New York!!

    The thing about the opening sentence is according to Norman that it should maybe the last thing you write!!