Contrapuntal Poem: Poetic Form

Let’s look at our first poetic form of February: the contrapuntal poem.

Contrapuntal Poems

I’ve had difficulty in hunting down who originated contrapuntal poems, but it does appear to be influenced by the music world. Contrapuntal music is composed of multiple melodies that are relatively independent that are sounded together. In the poetic world, contrapuntal poems are poems that intertwine two (or more) separate poems into a single composition–often by offering one line of poem A and before a corresponding line in poem B from start to finish.

In an attempt to show how this works, I’m going to share two short independent poems before sharing my attempt at a contrapuntal poem.

The Light at the End, by Robert Lee Brewer

Before leaving the house
I saw the storms approach
and thought here it comes:
the end, a bright flash
of light across my face.
Then, I heard the thunder.

The Tunnel, by Robert Lee Brewer

Wandering these empty rooms
dark and devoid of life–
lonely moments to bend.
Of every lost love letter,
I remember the desire
shaking me inside and out.

*****

writers_digest_guide_to_poetic_forms_robert_lee_brewerMaster Poetic Forms!

Learn how to write sestina, shadorma, haiku, monotetra, golden shovel, and more with The Writer’s Digest Guide to Poetic Forms, by Robert Lee Brewer.

This e-book covers more than 40 poetic forms and shares examples to illustrate how each form works. Discover a new universe of poetic possibilities and apply it to your poetry today!

Click to continue.

*****

Here’s my attempt at a Contrapuntal Poem:

The Light at the End of the Tunnel, by Robert Lee Brewer

Before leaving the house,
wandering these empty rooms,
I saw the storms approach,
dark and devoid of life,
and I thought, here it comes:
lonely moments to bend
the end. A bright flash
of every lost love letter
of light across my face,
I remember the desire…
Then, I heard the thunder
shaking me inside and out.

*****

This form was fun to write, because it forced me to think of how to get three meanings from my words at once: the meaning of the first poem, meaning of the second poem, and, of course, the meaning of them in harmony.

By the way, there are multiple ways to contrapuntal poems. Here are a few other nice examples (in other words, better than mine) I could find online:

*****

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.

*****

Find more poetic posts here:

You might also like:

  • No Related Posts

6 thoughts on “Contrapuntal Poem: Poetic Form

  1. RJ Clarken

    On the Town

    O Darling, you look so somptueuse.
    Your fashion sense is first page news,
    but then, you’ve always been très chic.
    Let’s do the town – all night…all week!

    My watered silks? From gay Paree.
    The fan’s handmade. It’s from Capri.
    The jewelry’s from Bendel’s boutique.
    Let’s do the town – all night…all week!

    Let’s ditch this party; find the hub.
    Hey, Cabbie. To the Cotton Club…
    then maybe Stork. We’re on a streak.
    Let’s do the town – all night…all week!

    We’ll pop a cork and toast ‘til dawn
    at ‘21’ and then move on
    for breakfast with our little clique.
    Let’s do the town – all night…all week!

    ###

    Shadow Dance

    …and underneath our agéd skin
    our hearts drum rhythms deep within;
    with arms spread wide as if to fly…
    the music in us spans the sky.

    Just passing by us on the street
    won’t show you how we hear the beat.
    The kick-ball-change? It’s time-step. Why?
    The music in us spans the sky.

    Eight decades spell a vibrant dance
    that you might see, if by some chance
    you look past shadows. Close one eye…
    the music in us spans the sky.

    …and underneath our agéd skin
    the music in us spans the sky.

    ###

    Shadow Dance on the Town

    O Darling, you look so somptueuse
    …and underneath our agéd skin
    your fashion sense is first page news,
    our hearts drum rhythms deep within
    but then, you’ve always been très chic.
    With arms spread wide as if to fly…
    Let’s do the town – all night…all week!
    The music in us spans the sky.

    My watered silks? From gay Paris.
    Just passing by us on the street…
    The fan’s handmade. It’s from Capri.
    Won’t show you how we hear the beat.
    The jewelry’s from Bendel’s boutique.
    The kick-ball-change? It’s time-step. Why?
    Let’s do the town – all night…all week!
    The music in us spans the sky.

    Let’s ditch this party; find the hub.
    Eight decades spell a vibrant dance.
    Hey, Cabbie. To the Cotton Club…
    that you might see, if by some chance?
    Then maybe Stork. We’re on a streak.
    You look past shadows. Close one eye…
    Let’s do the town – all night…all week!
    The music in us spans the sky.

    We’ll pop a cork and toast ‘til dawn
    …and underneath our agéd skin,
    at ‘21’ – we’ll then move on
    for breakfast with our little clique.
    Let’s do the town – all night…all week!
    The music in us spans the sky.

    ###

  2. taylor graham

    AFTERMATH

    There’s no sonogram of the old house
    in the tremors – the quake, the thunder –
    to explain away the cloven rafters
    wrenched from their once-connectors,
    the lumbered vocals still mourning
    what was wild forest before we came.

    I CAME

    opening doors in the dark before dawn
    looking for spring, the geese calling
    from overhead in pairs, the bald-pates
    on the pond. Everything is ripple, echo,
    evidence of the life that went on, quiet,
    winging outward till it disappears.

    HISTORY OF THE PLACE

    There’s no sonogram of the old house
    opening doors in the dark before dawn
    in the tremors – the quake, the thunder –
    looking for spring, the geese calling
    to explain away the cloven rafters
    from overhead in pairs, the bald-pates
    wrenched from their once-connectors
    on the pond. Everything is ripple, echo,
    the lumbered vocals still mourning
    evidence of the life that went on, quiet,
    what was wild forest before we came,
    winging outward till it disappears.

  3. PressOn

    Here’s one attempt. The first two are Crapsey cinquains I posted here a couple of weeks ago:

    LET’S TAKE AN OLD-FASHIONED WALK

    Let time
    be in suspense
    for just a little while
    as the meadow, flowers, and birds
    mark it.

    ON BLUE MOUNTAIN

    Down there,
    the village lights
    twinkle in obeisance
    to starlight gleaming unfiltered
    up here.

    The contrapuntal (I hope) result:

    A HIATAL HAPPENING

    Down there,
    let time
    be in suspense
    for just a little while;
    the village lights
    twinkle in obeisance
    to starlight gleaming unfiltered
    as the meadow, flowers, and birds
    mark it
    up here.

    1. Robert Lee Brewer Post author

      I think it could be attempted with another person’s work, but you’d want to get permission to share–or it would be a great collaborative poem. Many do it with their own work, but you know poetry: There’s always room for taking a little poetic license.

COMMENT