How to Write a Contrapuntel Poem

The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth. – Jean Cocteau

Sometimes it is more fun to play around with other people’s poems than write one’s own poem. That is what a contrapuntel poem is! And today I am going to share with you how to write them.

This is a poem where you take two poems that were written by two different authors and combine those two poems into a single poem. You might also be able to use a verse from two different poems.

The poems don’t need to be by separate author. They just need to be independent and separate from each other. They should not belong together.

It is probably easier to choose two shorter poems for this. Or maybe just a verse from a longer poem.

It is best if they are about the same length because traditionally with this sort of poem you alternate lines from one of the poems with lines from the other poem.

This is a poem that does not have to rhyme. In fact, I would be very impressed if you do get the two poems to rhyme together. Although, if the poems that you choose are rhyming poems, there will be some lines that rhyme.

I have not been able to discover where this poem originates from exactly. But it does seem to have something to do with music. Apparently there is a kind of music called contrapuntal music where different, almost independent, melodies are combined. This may or may not have something to do with how the contrapuntal poem came into being.

So, obviously, the first thing to do in figuring out this poem is to choose the two poems that you are going to use.

Since my computer is running out of batteries and I don’t have any way to charge it. I am going to go with the first two poems that came to mind.

And I am not even quite sure why these poems came to mind.

When you are writing this poem you can take as long as you like to figure out what poems you would like to use.

Anyways, I will be using part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold and part of William Cowper’s The Lord Will Provide.

I’ll use the first The Lord Will Provide and the fifth verse from Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold, and we will have to see how this goes.

So, here are the first verses of each of them:

Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold

Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away, ere break of day,
To claim our long-forgotten gold.

The Lord Will Provide

The saints should never be dismay’d,
Nor sink in hopeless fear;
For when they least expect his aid,
The Saviour will appear.

Those are the verses from the poems that I have chosen. If I had more time, I would be able to find something better, but we will just have to see how this goes.

So, yeah.

I”m just going to alternate the lines of the two poems and hopefully it will not turn out as bad as I’m expecting.

Here is the two poems combined together in all of their glory:

Hopeless

Far over the misty mountains cold
The saints should never be dismay’d,
To dungeons deep and caverns old
Nor sink in hopeless fear;
We must away, ere break of day,
For when they least expect his aid,
To claim our long-forgotten gold;
The Saviour will appear.

And that is how it turned out. It’s almost as bad as I feared.

If you end up trying one of these poems, I would love to read it! If you like you can leave  link to it on your blog in the comments or even just post it in the comments.

Have fun writing!

 

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