Today’s challenge is to write a fourteener. Fourteeners can be have any number of lines, but each line should have fourteen syllables. Traditionally, each line consisted of seven iambic feet (i.e., an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable, times seven), but non-iambic fourteeners also exist. The fourteener was popular in 16th and 17th century England, where it was particular common in ballads, but it also is the form in which “Casey at the Bat” is written. The form is versatile enough to encompass any subject matter, but as the example of “Casey at the Bat” shows us, it is particularly useful in narrative poetry, due to the long line and the step-like sense of progression created by the iambs.
I thought of doing a narrative poem based on last night’s political debate, but opted instead for a quick Easter fourteener. The trouble with this sort of thing is that it begins to sound like a greetings-card rhyme …
Season of yellow greetings cards, a time to cook and bake,
the roasted lamb, the hot cross buns, symbolic simnel cake
a time of sunlit daffodils, of tulips pink and bright,
a time to gorge on chocolate eggs from morning until night.
And queues build up on motorways, and train lines have delays,
and we all try to cram too much into these precious days.
A visit to a garden centre makes a great day out
but not many people really know what Easter is about.