Since listening to The Larger Bowl, I’ve been wanting to write a pantoum. It looks like it would be an interesting challenge, and I like the notion of using the same phrase with different nuances. I discovered several pantoums, including a few that Wikipedia linked to, that were non-rhyming, and this gave me hope, since I’m not nearly a good enough poet to write rhyming verse that doesn’t sound really hokey, and do things like rhyme “difficult” with “join a cult” and equally absurd things.
What follows is, technically, an “imperfect pantoum,” since I fudged a little bit on the closing stanza, which is supposed to be in a particular relationship with the opening stanza. But, since it’s my first one, and since I’m not much for writing in forms, I think that I’ll forgive me for that.
As I stand at the prow (A pantoum)
September 4 2007
As I stand at the prow
and look out to sea,
I wonder what I will leave behind
when my wake has faded.
And I look out to sea,
hoping to catch a glimpse of land.
When my wake has faded,
there’s nothing but me and the sky.
Hoping to catch a glimpse of land
is not sufficient motivation to go on
when there’s nothing but me and the sky
to mark that I passed here.
Is not sufficient motivation to go on
the sailors that I carry with me?
To mark that I passed here —
nothing but hubris.
The sailors that I carry with me,
their well-being, love, and life suffice.
Nothing but hubris
feeds the longing for more.
Their well-being, love and life suffice
and the time spent with them
feeds the longing for more
and lends joy to the voyage.
And the time spent with them
and the wonder of what we will leave behind
lends joy to the voyage
as I stand at the prow.