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The Morphean Stanza that I Dreamed

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Screen Shot 2013-12-06 at 1.35.05 PM (wiktionary key)


While the lines I’m about to reveal may seem simple enough, they have provided me with much fodder for thought.  Here are the lines which were in my memory when I awoke:

Just above the salty sea,
in a castle made of sand,
lived the Queen of the Færies,
Sovereign of the mystic lands.

When I first “remembered” these lines, I was terribly excited to have the memory and delighted by the image and merriment of the lines.  I set about analyzing the lines and was sure, as I noted earlier, that there would be no rhyme or reason (pun intended, ha) to the lines of verse.  I was very wrong.

First, each line has seven syllables and the rhyme scheme ABAB.  Also, based on the sound of the line, I am inclined to believe that the third and seventh syllables of the third line should bear an assonance.  The fact that the seventh syllable of the third line gives the line a feminine ending and is assonant with the word “Queen” supports this inclination, as well.

The prosody and feet of the lines are thus:

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At first, I thought that this may be just a random arrangement of metric feet; however, there is actually a fairly interesting dynamic at play here.  The first two lines bear the same structure and are composed of rising feet.  The third line begins with two rising feet, then moves to the feminine syllable, which begins a fall continued through the end of the stanza, with the fourth line being composed of falling feet.  What’s even more fascinating is that the fourth line is an inverse of the first two lines.

Again, let me be clear on this: I awoke from a dream with this Morphean Stanza in my memory.  After analyzing it, I believe that it bears a prosodic truth like a mathematical property which exists absent of human invention; what happened here was discovery, not invention.

So, therefore: An Oneirostrophe (also called a Dream Stanza or a Morphean Stanza) is a quatrain with the rhyme scheme ABAB, is written according to the scansion noted above, and shows assonance between the third and seventh syllables of the third line.

BOOM.  Mind blown.

Written by Alex Kaulfuss

December 6th, 2013 at 6:12 pm

I Have Dreamed a Dream of a New Poetic Form

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First, before I explain, I am coining and claiming three (3) terms: 1) Oneirostrophe, 2) Dream Stanza, and 3) Morphean Stanza.

In order to explain these terms, let me begin with a family tree (This is based somewhat on Ovid’s Metamorphosis, but does bear other influences, as well.):

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(Two main things to point out with which some people may disagree: 1) some say that Morpheus et al. are Hypnos’ brothers and 2) some say that Ikelos and Probetor are the same.  I know there is contention; this is how I’m showing it.)

The first term, oneirostrophe, comes from the Greek from Oneiro (dreams personified) and strophe (turn or twist), which in longer poems becomes synonymous with stanza, thus “Dream Stanza”.  I’m also offering a more colorful version of the name: Morphean Stanza, a hat tip to Morpheus, the most influential of his brothers.

I have always been fascinated by Coleridge’s claim to have dreamed the poem Kubla Khan and have often wished to have such an experience.  Recently, my wish was fulfilled when I awoke one morning with a completed stanza (a Morphean Stanza) in my memory.  I did not dream of composing a poem; I was not thinking of poetic things when I drifted off to sleep; nor did I doze off with the television on.  To my best and honest recollection there was no “process”; the stanza was just there, in my memory, when I awoke.

I spent a fair amount of time pondering over what to do with the bit of poem I’d been gifted with.  Now, I have decided to create a full story using the form given to me in my dream.  (I also aim to have each oneirostrophe illustrated and publish the complete work as soon as I’m able.)  To that end, I began an analysis of the linguistic features (prosody, rhyme, structure, etc.) of the Morphean Stanza.  I was sure that I would find a garbled mess with which I could do little without completely distorting the verse given to my by the Oneiroi.  What I discovered, though, was quite the contrary… and quite fascinating.

As for that, though, you’ll have to wait for the next post.

Written by Alex Kaulfuss

December 6th, 2013 at 12:33 am

Zero: Nothing from Nothing leaves Nothing

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I picked up my copy of Steven Brust’s Tiassa yesterday.  The dust jacket claims that Vlad and Khaavren meet.  I’m excited.

∞ Review of Zero: The biography of a dangerous idea by Charles Seife ∞

I am currently reading a book which, though written by an author I very much enjoy, is terrible.  My gratitude to Seife and Zero is immeasurable for the much needed respite they’ve offered me in the middle of this other book.  (I should note that I feel compelled to finish a book once I’ve begun it; I find myself inexplicably remiss to abandon a book unfinished.)  Zero is a fascinating exploration of the title number.  Seife offers not only a history of zero, but a well-rounded examination of its implications for religion, mathematics (as a field), and science.

I am an oddity: I deeply enjoy literature and mathematics and history and science, so this book, of course, appeals to me on most every level.  I would argue, however, that one need not feel an affinity for all of these categories; any one will suffice.  Seife is not only incredibly knowledgeable about his subject, but also a skilled wordsmith.  Zero, I believe, appeals to almost everyone, whether his interests are myriad, like mine, or much more finely honed.

Zero provides nearly infinite fodder for philosophical discourse and exploration and is a must for anyone who enjoys reading, nay anyone who enjoys anything… or nothing.


Written by Alex Kaulfuss

April 5th, 2011 at 3:02 pm

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