Today is leap day. First, a leaping sort of poem from Wordsworth:
"My heart leaps up when I behold"
by William Wordsworth
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began,
So is it now I am a man,
So be it when I shall grow old
Or let me die!
The child is father of the man:
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
The poem is a single stanza containing nine lines, and follows the rhyme scheme ABCCABCDD. It's composed of iambic feet, the number of which vary in different lines. Lines 1,3,4,5,7&8 have four iambic feet each, for a total of eight syllables. Line 2 has three iambs (six syllables); Line 6 has two iambs (four syllables); and the last line is in iambic pentameter (five feet, ten syllables).
The differences in line length create a variation in the weight of the lines. The 6 "regular" lines are set-ups for payoffs in the three irregular ones, so that the rainbow gets a bit more attention by being in a shorter line, and the (melo)dramatic "Or let me die!" gets lots of space and weight by virtue of it's shortness, it's indentation, and it's punctuation. The last line, with its extra foot, slows the ending down, echoing the notion of the passage of time and the seriousness of his closing statement: "And I could wish my days to be/ bound each to each by natural piety."
And now, for a word about February, which, despite its actual length, usually feels like the longest month of the year to me. One of my favorite songs by singer-songwriter Dar Williams (and I have several**), is "February", from the Mortal City album. I love it for its melody and the achingly beautiful cello part on the studio recording and its lyrics, part of which are:
And February was so long that it lasted into March
And found us walking a path alone together.
You stopped and pointed and you said, "That's a crocus,"
And I said, "What's a crocus?" and you said, "It's a flower,"
I tried to remember, but I said, "What's a flower?"
You said, "I still love you."
You can see her perform it solo, just her and her guitar, here:
*Posted early because damn! folks have been turning up before midnight lately for Poetry Friday posts.
**Other favorites: "When I Was a Boy", "As Cool as I Am", and "The Beauty of the Rain"