Still Waiting on That Book
I’ve recently begun to write a book—
already penned ten thousand words and more,
with thousands yet in store.
I can’t believe how long beginning took.
The seed was planted many years ago,
so why did I just now begin to write?
Good grief! What took so long?
You may have thought me lazy, scared, or slow.
The truth be told, the timing wasn’t right;
but now it is, and I will finish strong.
* * *
Three years ago I wrote that little rhyme,
and still no printed volume has emerged.
Uh, no! It’s unbelievable the time
my manuscript has sat unloved, untouched,
the seed of thought has withered up and died,
my inspiration’s gone,
and likewise pencil wastes away unclutched.
When first I thought of this, I could have cried,
but there’s no point in that. What’s done is done.
But it’s not done! And that’s the very point
I’m making to myself by writing this.
And please, do not dismiss
the chance to start anew; instead, anoint
your weak perspective with a healing oil;
peruse the script, regain your vision, then
begin to write again.
Procrastination’s plans resolve to foil.
Brush off the paper’s dust; pick up the pen,
for from the tempted toss, you must refrain.
“Too old, too old this training to begin.”
Nay! Even Yoda wasn’t always right,
so don’t give up the fight.
The ones who never finish fail to win;
but while you still have breath, and half a mind,
there’s still a chance that one day you’ll succeed.
If you would published be,
you must resume your writing, motive find.
Let nothing bar the way, success impede;
now write, if you’re done listening to me.
You are me. Yes, I know, and I am you.
Those listening must think this talk absurd.
(I’ll say it was a bird.)
It is myself alone I’m talking to,
although I have no doubt that others need
to hear this very lecture for themselves.
When writing is a chore,
it can be hard—if muse has not been freed.
So take abandoned notebooks from their shelves,
the cobwebs lose, and start to write once more.
To write again, I really have no choice:
the story, still untold, still burns within,
it burns with deep chagrin.
I am behooved to listen to that voice,
the voice that calls my sleeping self to rise
and strengthen feeble knees to take a stand,
to quicken flagging pulse.
I’ll set my sights upon a noble prize
(though not to be confused with something grand)
and be a benefit to someone else.
If you have naught to say, then please naught,
for speaking vanity yields nothing good—
indeed, it never could.
Remember what the wiser ones have taught:
the writer bears a legendary role—
perpetuating truth to those who come
behind us in our stead.
We have the power to act upon the soul,
so while we live, we dare not linger mum;
we cannot change the world when we are dead.
Now see how long a treatise I have writ!
It seems I can go long, if I but try,
so laziness defy!
If only with my prose I do not quit
(or maybe write the book in poetry)—
perhaps this time next year it will be done,
and then another write.
A second book? Well, we shall wait and see
what happens. Now I’m off to write the one,
and so I bid to you farewell, good night.
Copyright © 2021 Abigail Gronway – All Rights Reserved
Welcome to my series, Incremental Poetry, where each week the featured poem will be one line longer than the one I share the week before. I have no idea how long I’ll keep this up, so we’ll just have to wait and see. Thank you for stopping by.
Invented by Charles Algernon Swinburne (1837-1909)
This form combines the rhyming pattern of an interrupted Petrarchan Sonnet with the cadence of common meter.
Stanzaic: any number of decastich stanzas
Most of the poem is written in iambic pentameter.
Exceptions: the 3rd and 7th lines in each stanza are iambic trimeter.
Rhyme scheme: abbacdecde fggfhijhij, etc.
To answer your question, yes, I truly did write the first stanza three years ago. When I opened my folder of Swinburne Decastiches to begin work on the 80-line poem, I decided to first read the one I’d already written, “To Write a Book.” I was taken aback that so long ago I wrote a poem about a book I was also in the process of writing. Near as I can recall, I haven’t worked on said book from that day to this. In fact, I’d all but forgotten about it. So I decided it’s high time to revisit that old manuscript. . . but first to write this poem!