One and Two and Three

This is not a sestina, but the structure was inspired by them. A traditional sestina is written in iambic pentameter, and this is iambic trimeter instead. (For more on sestinas, see What is a Sestina?) This is a fun little poem that just happened when I had a sudden rush of creative juices two days ago.

Please always tell the truth
You have no need to lie
Now one and two and three
The magic of the sleuth
The falsehood that you cry
The sleuth will always see

You thought I did not see
You did not tell the truth
I’ll raise the hue and cry
To show you told a lie
I’ll be the little sleuth
And one and two and three

Now one and two and three
And what is this I see?
The mission of the sleuth
Is to reveal the truth
And to expose the lie
Your falsehood do not cry

You made your mother cry
And one and two and three
When she found out your lie
When all the world did see
You should have told the truth
When speaking to this sleuth

I would not have to sleuth
Your mother would not cry
If you had told the truth
Now one and two and three
I hope that you can see
You should not tell a lie

For when you tell a lie
You shan’t deceive this sleuth
The truth is what I see
No matter how you cry
And one and two and three
Indeed, I see the truth


Camus’s Question

This one was a homework assignment: Pick a specific poem format, and write a poem in that format. It had to be something with a specific structure, not a freeform poem. This was not the first time I wrote a sestina for a homework assignment. The first one was about frogs. I don’t know where that one is, but if I find it somewhere in my piles of papers, I’ll definitely post it for you all. I really like the cyclical structure of the sestina. I recently read that it was most often used for a complaint poem back in the day, which makes some sense, since whiners tend to repeat themselves ad nauseam. I haven’t ever used the sestina for whining, but I’ve certainly found that it’s not suitable for every topic. You have to find a topic that naturally has a cyclical feel.

This sestina is based on an internal debate I had after talking to a friend who thought she might commit suicide. Fortunately, she’s still alive and kicking, and more emotionally stable now. This was crafted over a two-week period, and finished on October 6, 2008.

Camus once said the only question
worth asking is Should I give up?
Does this world have depth of meaning,
and is that meaning now enough
to keep me in this world and living,
or should I just let go and die?

I know a girl who wants to die,
to answer that important question.
She says she cannot go on living,
it’s not worth it to keep this up.
The things she has are not enough
to keep this life enriched with meaning.

Before I never questioned meaning.
I haven’t had the urge to die.
The things I have are just enough.
With confidence I answer the question.
I watch the sun go climbing up.
I have no reason for not living.

In fact I find such joy in living,
in everything I find a meaning.
Every day I’m climbing up.
It’s not that I’m afraid to die,
it’s just that, facing this big question,
I don’t see why it’s not enough

She says she cannot find enough
of joy or meaning to keep her living.
She hardly dares to face the question,
‘cause after death there is no meaning.
I think that she’s afraid to die,
but wants the pain to give her up.

She struggles with just giving up
and tells me I don’t know enough
to understand her wish to die.
She cannot understand why living
carries for me the ultimate meaning,
how I rejoice and Camus’s question

Came once asked a question about giving up
I find that life has meaning and that it’s enough
I have reason to go on living until it’s time to die