Alexandrine Freeze


I caught the trees asleep at dawn,
Final brown fruits… no wind has blown.
A late harvest: the hard snap came;
Ice built its home. Diadem boughs
Met a new sun, leaves fell like rain,
Spinning down dead; red, broken stems—
Untold sisters storming quiet lands shocked by war.


Twitter prompt #FWTR33 is to “blame” for this being a bit odd in structure and character count.

Space at a premium, I used a modified and loosened rhyme scheme and truncated meter as a result (iambic tetrameter versus pentameter). I did keep the traditional medial caesura, a break or pause between each of the two sets of four syllabic beats, depicted as (4 || 4) most of the time.

The final line is the classical “full” Alexandrine, namely a shift to iambic hexameter (twelve syllables) with a caesura (6 || 6) layout that normally yields two extra syllables, but here adds four.

Not often seen now, the Alexandrine was itself something of a break in droning English (and greater European) verse, a notable example being Spenser’s Faerie Queene with its eight lines in pentameter followed with a single line in Alexandrine, as illustrated in XXXVII (about the 320-325 line range)…


Then choosing out few words most horrible,
(Let none them read) thereof did verses frame,
With which and other spelles like terrible,
He bad awake blacke Plutoes griesly Dame,
And cursed heaven and spake reprochfull shame
Of highest God, the Lord of life and light;
A bold bad man, that dar’d to call by name
Great Gorgon, Prince of darknesse and dead night,
At which Cocytus quakes, and Styx is put to flight.


Spenser got his wish, as nobody reads these horrible words, tee hee. Although Ozzy Osbourne fans will note “Prince of Darkness” was around in 1590 if not well before…

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W. Sheridan Bradford writes horror (All Hallows, The Buzzkill) the old west (Rimfires, Sevenfold), contemporary western fiction (Born Again), science fiction (The Wreck of the Molon Labe), and is the author of numerous short stories and poems. Usually found in: Colorado, New Mexico, or Texas.

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