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Friday, 12 August 2022
This week, Poetry Friday is hosted by Margaret Simon. Stop by Margaret’s blog, Reflections on the Teche, for original and favorite poems, book reviews, and poetry news from across the kidlitosphere.

Although I usually read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice every year, it’s been a while since I’ve read her other novels. Persuasion is my favorite of all her books, then P&P, and Sense and Sensibility. Have you ever seen the movie written by and starring Emma Thompson as Elinor Dashwood? Alan Rickman play Colonel Brandon. Be still my heart!!

I watched Sense and Sensibility too soon after Rickman’s death in 2016 and was full-on snotty sobbing by the end of the movie. I haven’t watched or read this Austen story since… until this month.

Lately, I’ve been listening to audio versions of Austen’s novels in the car, while I knit or wash the dishes. I’ll probably skip Northanger Abbey (bottom of my Austen list). So when I asked myself what was on my mind this Poetry Friday, the answer was: Jane Austen.

But was Jane Austen a poet? The answer is YES.

Here is the charming “Verses to Rhyme with Rose” by Jane Austen (1807):

Happy the lab’rer in his Sunday clothes!
In light-drab coat, smart waistcoat, well-darn’d hose,
And hat upon his head, to church he goes;
As oft, with conscious pride, he downward throws
A glance upon the ample cabbage rose
That, stuck in button-hole, regales his nose,
He envies not the gayest London beaux.
In church he takes his seat among the rows,
Pays to the place the reverence he owes,
Likes best the prayers whose meaning least he knows,
Lists to the sermon in a softening doze,
And rouses joyous at the welcome close.

Want to read more of Austen’s poems? I found them at the site Interesting Literature.

by Cassandra Austen, drawing, 1810

Who else wants to try Austen’s poetic form?! Choose a one syllable word (I’m thinking of house or cloud) and write a “Verses to Rhyme with___” poem. I’ll come back later with my attempt.

Filed: Poetry Friday

26 responses to “Poetry Friday: Jane Austen, Poet?!”

  1. Irene Latham says:

    Laura, we just watched Sanditon PBS show based on Austen’s last incomplete novel. Enjoyed it very much, especially the last couple of episodes of season 1 (the romantic payoff after all that desiring!). xo

  2. Linda Baie says:

    I haven’t read any of her books in a while, I admit. Maybe it’s time for a summer fling? I like the poem’s disdain of the man and “regales his nose” is such a great look at her clever wording. Thanks, Laura!

    • Linda Baie says:

      I don’t have as many lines, but did give your challenge a try!

      I have returned from waves low and high.
      ‘Twas saddest moments when saying goodbye.
      Now summer wanes; trees appear to sigh.
      The prologue of autumn is drawing nigh.
      Sweet hours of memories, a year’s supply
      Of sea time reflecting from blue of the sky.
      Linda Baie ©

      • Margaret says:

        Linda, I am impressed with your poem. This might be fun to try with my students. I start teaching next week. “Sweet hours of memories” I love seeing your images of your family vacations to the beach. My daughter sent me an airbnb site in Florida she’d like us to travel to. Maybe in the spring.

      • Laura Shovan says:

        Linda, I’m so glad you gave it a try. Brava!! I see how this poem connects with your post about summer travel with your family.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Persuasion is such a beautiful book. It’s not as funny as Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility. More meditative — a woman coming into maturity and learning to trust her own judgement.

  3. Margaret says:

    Laura,
    This poem is inspiring to try the form. As I said to Linda, I may try something like it with students. Rhymezone helps so much.

  4. Very fun poem challenge! I may serve this one up for The Nevermores this coming week!

  5. Oh, what fun! Thanks for this whole lovely post, Laura. (If I get my act together, I’ll try to circle back.) Kudos to Linda B. for her memory-rich “sea time” verses!
    I’m always delighted to discover other folks who claim Pride & Prejudice as their favorite novel; it’s mine, too, and I’ve run into quite a few who say the same. I DID see that version of Sense & Sensibility a while back, but I had forgotten Alan Rickman was in it. :0( Gone too soon.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Hi, Robyn. I have yet to try it myself! Oh, I sobbed snotty tears — watched S&S too soon after Alan Rickman died. My daughter still remembers it. But now that I’ve reread the book, I’m due to rewatch the film.

  6. Linda Mitchell says:

    oooooh! Jane Austen is a hole in my literature history. Somehow, I missed it in HS, college and then after. I finally started watching the movies recently and they ARE fun. I should probably try to listen to at least one of the books.

    I like the constraint challenge of, “verses to rhyme with” I’m picking the word S-T-A-R because…well…it’s my go-to this year.

    Verses to rhyme with star

    You have left and gone so far
    can you hear this guitar?
    playing our song of au revoir
    again as always there’s a tiny scar
    on my heart
    in the shape of the jar
    that held the keys to your escape car
    no taillights on the radar
    you have gone so far

  7. Laura, I’m glad to know someone else holds a place in their heart for Alan Rickman. THE Alan Rickman.

    Austen’s form is a monorhyme? I wrote one a few years ago that is sadly still relevant.

    Monorhyme for a Flawed Democracy

    Angry November and October surprise
    followed a summer of rages and lies.
    Emails released from a hacker’s supplies
    shrouded the troll-farming racists and spies.

    The dream of a gender about to realize
    the glass-ceiling-shattering suffragettes’ prize
    dangled in danger red-hot as the skies
    branding the Kremlin’s corrupt enterprise.

    Watching the map with incredulous eyes,
    first – disbelief – then, agonized cries,
    as sixty-five million could sense the demise
    of government led by the uncompromised.

    Ceaselessly talking, the pundits theorize
    a biased electoral map justifies
    the Resolute desk being used to disguise
    a ruling minority – oppression’s reprise.

    • Rose Cappelli says:

      Wow! this is so powerful, Marilyn.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Sigh. Alan Rickman. Especially in THIS movie. Oh, Marilyn. Your poem captures election night of 2016 perfectly. It felt like we were living in a nightmare then and at many points since. I didn’t know this form was called a monorhyme. Thank you for that!

  8. Mary Lee says:

    Those last three lines align with my own religious “sense and sensibility.” Thanks for expanding my notion of Jane Austen!

  9. Shari Green says:

    A fun prompt! Thanks, Laura.

    Verses to Rhyme with Sea

    Happy the gal with her venti iced-tea!
    (Yes, you are right – that gal is me.)
    I take my drink down by the sea
    where the air, a briny potpourri,
    dispels my mind’s chaotic debris.
    A driftwood chair (a fine old tree)
    becomes the place for me to be
    transported by the view – all blue, to some degree:
    turquoise, cerulean, lapis lazuli,
    a balm (I think you will agree)
    that calms the heart and sets one free.

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Thanks for giving it a go, Shari! I can picture you in this beautiful poem. The images are a balm for the heart.

  10. Rose Cappelli says:

    Thanks for the peek into a different side of Jane Austin. Will have to give this form a try.

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Laura Shovan

Laura Shovan is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book, Takedown, is a Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way selection. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a poet-in-the-schools Maryland.

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