Monday, February 11, 2013

If a monologue can’t be dramatic, why bother?

In my last post I included a few lines from “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot, who wrote the poem in a form known as dramatic monologue. Another poem of Eliot’s, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, is also a dramatic monologue.

And so is “My Last Duchess” by Robert Browning, about whom Elizabeth Barrett counted the ways.

Wouldn’t you just know it, I decided to try my hand at a dramatic monologue too.

Yes, I did. Way back in 1977. Here’s the result:

by Robert H. Brague

A book has fallen from the highest shelf!
Or so it seems -- I see one missing there.
Did this sprawled on the floor remove itself
Of its own strength and set sail through the air
Like Icarus of old, in some great plan
To overcome the chains that kept it bound
To earth? Ridiculous! And yet, no man
Has touched this room in months. Last week I found
This bust of Mozart turned a diff’rent way
From where it faced when Charlotte was alive.
Can I be going mad? And now, today,
This volume took an unexpected dive
From where it sat so long gathering dust.
Coincidence! Coincidence, I say!
I do not hold with poltergeists. You must
Surely refute, as I do, men today
(And educated ones at that) who hold
Such superstitious views as these. And yet,
She did love hearing Mozart. Feel how cold
This room’s become! No, do not stoop. I’ll get
The fallen book and put it back. Look here,
It fell (how strange!) in such a way, as though
To point up yonder stair. The chandelier
Was one she always liked. Come, let us go.
I do not wish to stay in such a place
As this. And yet, I linger on because
In this room I recall my Charlotte’s face
Most clearly, and especially the claws
That marked her throat. They came and shot the beast,
You know. It stood across her in the door
Where you are standing now. A gruesome feast
It made of her -- an arm, a breast. The floor
Was filled with blood, and her not quite yet dead.
We watched her bleed to death from where we stood
In fear upon the stair. Let’s go to bed
Now. Put milk out for the kitten? Good.

So tell me, now that my poem has seen the light of day, how did
I do? Is it right up there with Eliot and Browning?


But it is in iambic pentameter and the rhyme scheme is abab cdcd efef and so forth, almost ad infinitum.

That has to count for something.