Young Writers Society

Home » Forums » Resources » Knowledge Base » Poetry Tutorials

Poetic Forms: The Palindrome



User avatar
801 Reviews

Supporter


Gender: Female
Points: 1383
Reviews: 801
Wed Jun 11, 2014 8:19 pm
View Likes
Aley says...



The Palindrome

When it comes to structured poetry, there are all sorts of different styles, devices, and ideas for what can make a structure. The palindrome is one of the word-play structures like a found poem, or a cinquian. The palindrome bases itself around the idea that you can read something forwards and backwards, and get something interesting and unique both ways.

What is a Palindrome
A palindrome, in general, is something that is read the same forwards and backwards. For example the name "Hannah" is a palindrome with the reflective point between the two Ns. "Madd Addam" is another palindrome, with the reflective point as the A in Addam. Just like those are palindromes, so is the sentence "You can see can you?" with the reflective point around "see."

Poets have taken this concept and adapted it; while they keep the same letters on both sides, the meaning changes. Just like "You can see can you" has two sides, "You can see" and "see, can you?" the poems are developed into two different messages using just one set of words and letters.

Types
The most common on the internet are 'letter' palindromes: "Anna", "Was it a car or a cat I saw," and "racecar."

However, in poetry they are much more diverse. A palindrome can make a mirror from the smallest size, letters, all the way up to entire stanzas. To understand how I am going to be naming these different types, bear with the mirror metaphor.

Reflections

If we look at "Anna," putting a mirror between the Ns makes a direct translation. This is what I will call a word palindrome, or a 'letter reflection' because the individual letters are what we move to make the palindrome.

Now let's take a look at this example:
"We can be
as happy
as we want
as happy
we can be"


This is an example of a 'stanza' palindrome because if we were to make these two stanzas, the reflection is around "as we want" and the entire lines are repeated exactly as they were the first time. It could also be considered a 'line reflection' because the entire line is taken and over the reflection.

Here's another example:
"Suddenly I saw
her. Bells in hair
watching
hair in bells, her
I saw suddenly"


In this case we have a line palindrome because the lines are flipped. Each line has a reflection so the last word becomes the first word. These are also called 'word reflections' because the individual words of the lines are taken and reflected.

So to explain this better, each time we call something an x reflection, we are talking about the smallest unit that is reflected. If we talk about an x palindrome, we're talking about what is created when we flip it.

A word palindrome is a letter reflection
A line palindrome is a word reflection
A stanza palindrome is a line reflection

Others

There are still more types of palindromes out there than just these three!

Another type of palindrome that is popular is a palindrome with a cue for the reader to read it backwards. These can be tricky because it requires breaking the fourth wall, or directly addressing and suggesting your reader do something. Still, it can be really popular, and most of them are stanza palindromes.

Through some debate palindromes thus have become something that is read both forwards and backwards, whether it is intended to be read straight through once, or by reading the lines backwards once you reach the end of the poem. The complexity of the palindrome is completely subject to the choice of the writer.

The best way to indicate that something is a palindrome on YWS is to simply put "Palindrome" in the title somewhere, whether it is "Our Lives: A Palindrome" or "Palindrome 1" it can help indicate that it is supposed to be a palindrome. Another method is to add it into an author's note in the poem.

Grammar

In palindromes, grammar goes out the window. It is not necessary to mirror anything other than the words. This is part of how palindromes work in poetry. The idea is to create something new even though we are reading the same words. This comes in handy if we're reading a poem that is a stanza palindrome where the lines are just repeated because we can give it a new intonation with removing, adding, or substituting characters.

This does not mean we can erase words or add words.

Editing

Editing palindromes can be tricky because what you do on one side of the reflection, if you include the reflection, you have to do on the other. The best way to edit a palindrome is to pick a side and make that side as good as you can while reading and checking the other side for clarity.

When you finish with one side, do the reverse and see if there is a way to compromise between the two sides. The best palindromes are the ones where you don't even notice there was a reversal.

Examples
Here are a few examples of palindromes.

The 224 Word Palindrome:
Spoiler! :
Dammit I'm Mad

Dammit I’m mad.
Evil is a deed as I live.
God, am I reviled? I rise, my bed on a sun, I melt.
To be not one man emanating is sad. I piss.
Alas, it is so late. Who stops to help?
Man, it is hot. I’m in it. I tell.
I am not a devil. I level “Mad Dog”.
Ah, say burning is, as a deified gulp,
In my halo of a mired rum tin.
I erase many men. Oh, to be man, a sin.
Is evil in a clam? In a trap?
No. It is open. On it I was stuck.
Rats peed on hope. Elsewhere dips a web.
Be still if I fill its ebb.
Ew, a spider… eh?
We sleep. Oh no!
Deep, stark cuts saw it in one position.
Part animal, can I live? Sin is a name.
Both, one… my names are in it.
Murder? I’m a fool.
A hymn I plug, deified as a sign in ruby ash,
A Goddam level I lived at.
On mail let it in. I’m it.
Oh, sit in ample hot spots. Oh wet!
A loss it is alas (sip). I’d assign it a name.
Name not one bottle minus an ode by me:
“Sir, I deliver. I’m a dog”
Evil is a deed as I live.
Dammit I’m mad.


Dementri Martain Palindrome


Line Palindromes:
Spoiler! :
Reflections

Life-
imitates nature,
always moving, traveling continuously.
Falling leaves placed delicately;
foliage touching the echoing waters,
clarity removed -
Reflections distorted through waves rippling;
gracefully dancing
mirrored images
- reflect -
images mirrored.
Dancing gracefully,
rippling waves through distorted reflections -
removed clarity.
Waters echoing the touching foliage;
delicately placed leaves falling -
continuously traveling, moving always,
nature imitates
life.

Copyright © 2002 Lynne C. Fadden

Unseen Travelers

Spoken Breath
Creating flesh and spirit
Souls stirring divine dances
Leaping, joyful with life
Entertaining harmony and grace
Angels of myriads and myriads
Sentinel watchers
Merging unseen
~Travelers~
Unseen merging
Watchers, Sentinel
Myriads and myriads of angels
Grace and harmony entertaining
Life with joyful leaping
Dances divine, stirring souls
Spirit and flesh creating
Breath spoken.

Copyright © 2002 Jerry P. Quinn
http://www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/wip/palindrome.html


A stanza palindrome:
Spoiler! :
"It was written by James A. Lindon and was first published in Dmitri Borgmann's Beyond Language (1967)."

Entering the lonely house with my wife
I saw him for the first time
Peering furtively from behind a bush –
Blackness that moved,
A shape amid the shadows,
A momentary glimpse of gleaming eyes
Revealed in the ragged moon.
A closer look (he seemed to turn) might have
Put him to flight forever –
I dared not
For reasons that I failed to understand,
Though I knew I should act at once.

I puzzled over it, hiding alone,
Watching the woman as she neared the gate.
He came, and I saw him crouching
Night after night.
Night after night
He came, and I saw him crouching,
Watching the woman as she neared the gate.

I puzzled over it, hiding alone –
Though I knew I should act at once,
For reasons that I failed to understand
I dared not
Put him to flight forever.

A closer look (he seemed to turn) might have
Revealed in the ragged moon
A momentary glimpse of gleaming eyes
A shape amid the shadows,
Blackness that moved.

Peering furtively from behind a bush,
I saw him, for the first time
Entering the lonely house with my wife.
http://www.english-for-students.com/Line-Unit-Palindrome-Poem.html
The Lost Generation
Jonathan Reed

I am part of a lost generation
and I refuse to believe that
I can change the world
I realize this may be a shock but
“Happiness comes from within.”
is a lie, and
“Money will make me happy.”
So in 30 years I will tell my children
they are not the most important thing in my life
My employer will know that
I have my priorities straight because
work
is more important than
family
I tell you this
Once upon a time
Families stayed together
but this will not be true in my era
This is a quick fix society
Experts tell me
30 years from now, I will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of my divorce
I do not concede that
I will live in a country of my own making
In the future
Environmental destruction will be the norm
No longer can it be said that
My peers and I care about this earth
It will be evident that
My generation is apathetic and lethargic
It is foolish to presume that
There is hope.

And all of this will come true unless we choose to reverse it .

Read the message, then read it again in reverse.

Which generation do you belong in?

phpBB [media]
  





User avatar
233 Reviews



Gender: Female
Points: 19633
Reviews: 233
Wed Jun 11, 2014 8:44 pm
Cithara says...



Ooh I've seen that video before! It's such a good poem.
Thanks for talking about Palindromes in poetry :)
Pax in Christo


"My heart is racing even as I write,
but I plan to go on as bravely as a heroine in a
novel."~The Hired Girl


I used to be Thewriter13
  





User avatar
401 Reviews



Gender: Female
Points: 1658
Reviews: 401
Thu Jul 10, 2014 10:36 pm
ThereseCricket says...



*whispers* That was amazing... I had never even thought of doing something like that! :D Cool Aley!
In Truth Unity,
In Doubt Liberty,
In all things Charity.
  








But answer me this: how can a story end happily if there is no love?
— Kate DiCamillo, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane