poemlet Poetry

It is Spring – Here’s a lento for a tulip

The tulips came up a treat this month, and our little garden is looking quite festive. Posting on Facebook, my S.O. commented: “A flower thingy. Impressive.”

I just had to respond with a little poem, because, my goodness, a magnificent tulip flower like that, larger than my hand, is not a thingy! But my poem then turned into a thingy (ha! see?!), which sort of fits a form of poetry called “Lento”.


That’s a tulip planted there,
it’s not a “thingy” as you said.
Slow it grew under ice and snow,
though, from the cold, it should be dead.
Whose robes does it remind you of,
those petals of vermilion red?
It is the king of flowers with
his gold crown on his velvet head.

      - A rebuttal by the Bear of Little Brain

That's a tulip planted there,
it's not a "thingy" as you said.
Slow it grew under ice and snow,
though, from the cold, it should be dead.
Whose robes does it remind you of,
those petals of vermilion red?
It is the king of flowers with
his gold crown on his velvet head.

I looked at that very grand flower and I thought that the yellow circle looked just like a crown sitting on black velvet.

Never heard of a lento?

So, this is little verse is more or less in the form of a Lento. A Lento is a modern form of poetry created by poet Lencio Dominic Rodrigues, in 2005, for a poetry competition. The name, Lento, comes from his name, Lencio. While I think it is stupidly difficult, Rodrigues has written entire volumes of poetry in this way. And now he has a form of verse named after him, lucky guy.

A Lento has to have two quatrains. So far, so good. No problem. Anyone can do that. But then, to make it more difficult, every second line has the same end rhyme. This is called a Double Lento. But to make it even tougher, the first words of all four lines also have to rhyme, in other words, a mono-rhyme. That makes it a Triple Lento.

My poem, A Flower Thingy, is a Double Lento but not quite a Triple Lento, because I could only work a coupled rhyme scheme into the first words, not a mono-rhyme scheme. The rhyming pairs of first words are: that’s/it’s; slow/though; whose/those; it is/his. Not very good rhymes, I think, but hell’s bells, it was difficult enough!

The main problem was trying to make the words rhyme, while at the same time keeping it normal – like talking to someone. By strangling and tangling the sentence structure, I could have made a perfect Lento, but one that sounds unnatural, and this poemlet is, after all, my response to an informal social media comment.

The end matters more than the beginning

I realized that in poetry, like in music, it’s the end of the phrase that matters, since it is the end which has to resolve into the next line or the next set of notes, and so on. This is because the end of a line, at least in English, is where the object typically is (subject-verb-object) in a declarative sentence: the thing that is being written about or described, the thing to which something is being done, and the thing on which the doer is focused. Even if you switch and you put the subject at the end of the line (object-verb-subject), it still means that it’s the position, the end, the last word, that is important and has to flow into the first word of the next line.

I suppose this makes sense if you consider that everything moves towards an end – living, learning, traveling, building, creating, dying, time itself, and the stars and planets that move through the universe. Everything ends, eventually. Funny, that, don’t you think?

On the other hand, trying to do something counter-intuitive is what makes writing poetry entertaining and challenging: how can you change and mould the words to fit the form, while still saying what you mean, and still using the metaphor that you thought of?

Do you want to challenge yourself by writing a Lento? Here is the format, from his book, 101 Lentos. If you do, post it in the comment section. Good luck!

(Source: Four Decades and a Poem – Includes Sonnets, Haiku, Lentos and Other Contemporary Forms, by Lencio Rodrigues, Publisher: AuthorHouse, 2011; 101 Lentos – Poems of the New Millennium Featuring Poets Across the World, by Lencio Rodrigues, Publisher: Notion Press, 2013)

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