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Poetry Debate No. 2

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/21/2013 Category: Entertainment
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 734 times Debate No: 39232
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




Round One - Ballads (ABCB format)
Round Two - Blank Verse
Round Three - Unrhymed Free verse (no more than 20 lines)
Round Four - Villanelle
Round Five - Poem of your choice or of your creation

My ballad selection is "The Birth of John Henry" by Melvin B. Tolson. I thinks it's darkly comic, and I really enjoy it. I hope you will too!

The night John Henry is born an ax
of lightning splits the sky,
and a hammer of thunder pounds the earth,
and the eagles and panthers cry!

John Henry--he says to his Ma and Pa:
"Get a gallon of barleycorn.
I want to start right, like a he-man child,
the night that I am born!"

Says: "I want some ham hocks, ribs, and jowls,
a pot of cabbage and greens;
some hoecackes, jam, and buttermilk,
a platter of pork and beans!"

John Henry's Ma--she wrings her hands,
and his Pa--he scratches his head.
John Henry--he curses in giraffe-tall words,
flops over, and kicks down the bed.

He's burning mad, like a bear on fire--
so he tears to the riverside.
As he stoops to drink, Old Man River gets scared
and runs upstream to hide!

Some say he was born in Georgia'O Lord!
Some say in Alabam.
But it's writ on the rock at the Big Bend Tunnel:
"Lousyana was my home. So scram!"



Sometimes we see something beautiful and striking, and we remember it for a long time afterwords. "The solitary Reaper" is about a similar incident. The poet is William Wordsworth.

Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland Lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
O listen! for the Vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.

No Nightingale did ever chaunt
More welcome notes to weary bands
Of travellers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:
A voice so thrilling ne'er was heard
In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides.

Will no one tell me what she sings?--
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again?

Whate'er the theme, the Maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o'er the sickle bending;--
I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.
William Wordsworth

Source: My English Textbook
Debate Round No. 1


For this round of unrhymed iambic pentameter, otherwise known as Blank Verse, I will stick with my darker theme. My selection is "Degrees of Grey in Philipsburg" by Richard Hugo.

You might come here Sunday on a whim.
Say your life broke down. The last good kiss
you had was years ago. You walk these streets
laid out by the insane, past hotels
that didn't last, bars that did, the tortured try
of local drivers to accelerate their lives.
Only churches are kept up. The jail
turned 70 this year. The only prisoner
is always in, not knowing what he"s done.

The principal supporting business now
is rage. Hatred of the various grays
the mountain sends, hatred of the mill,
The Silver Bill repeal, the best liked girls
who leave each year for Butte. One good
restaurant and bars can't wipe the boredom out.
The 1907 boom, eight going silver mines,
a dance floor built on springs--
all memory resolves itself in gaze,
in panoramic green you know the cattle eat
or two stacks high above the town,
two dead kilns, the huge mill in collapse
for fifty years that won"t fall finally down.

Isn't this your life? That ancient kiss
still burning out your eyes? Isn't this defeat
so accurate, the church bell simply seems
a pure announcement: ring and no one comes?
Don't empty houses ring? Are magnesium
and scorn sufficient to support a town,
not just Philipsburg, but towns
of towering blondes, good jazz and booze
the world will never let you have
until the town you came from dies inside?

Say no to yourself. The old man, twenty
when the jail was built, still laughs
although his lips collapse. Someday soon,
he says, I'll go to sleep and not wake up.
You tell him no. You're talking to yourself.
The car that brought you here still runs.
The money you buy lunch with,
no matter where it's mined, is silver
and the girl who serves your food
is slender and her red hair lights the wall.

This poem is dark, but is powerful I hope it was appreciated.



This is a beautiful poem which was written by an African child and nominated by The United Nations as the Best Poem of 2006.

It is very short and sweet..

And you calling me colored??

When I born, I black.
When I grow up, I black.
When I go in sun, I black.
When I scared, I black.
When I sick, I black.
And when I die, I still black.

And you white people.
When you born, you pink.
When you grow up, you white.
When you go in sun, you red.
When you cold, you blue.
When you scared, you yellow.
When you sick, you green
And when you die, you grey…

And you calling me colored??;

Debate Round No. 2


That power was very powerful--I'm not sure that it's blank verse, but it's nice. For this round--Round Unrhymed Free Verse--for my poem, I will be offering one of my truly favorite poems of all time. "Dream Song 14" by John Berryman is sardonically funny, and if you read it with just the read note of sarcastic hilarity, it's an amazing piece.

Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatingly) "Ever to confess you"re bored
means you have no

Inner Resources." I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored.
Peoples bore me,
literature bores me, especially great literature,
Henry bores me, with his plights & gripes
as bad as achilles,

who loves people and valiant art, which bores me.
And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag
and somehow a dog
has taken itself & its tail considerably away
into mountains or sea or sky, leaving
behind: me, wag.



I, Too, Sing America by Langston Hughes
I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.
- See more at:
Debate Round No. 3


For Round Villanelle I will stick with my darker theme, and present "Video Blues," by Mary-Jo Salter. I really appreciate her ability to write a steady, fluid stream of thoughts/dialogue, but yet include rhymes without it sounding forced.

My husband has a crush on Myrna Loy,
and likes to rent her movies, for a treat.
It makes some evenings harder to enjoy.

The list of actresses who might employ
him as their slave is too long to repeat.
(My husband has a crush on Myrna Loy,

Carole Lombard, Paulette Goddard, coy
Jean Arthur with that voice as dry as wheat ...)
It makes some evenings harder to enjoy.

Does he confess all this just to annoy
a loyal spouse? I know I can"t compete.
My husband has a crush on Myrna Loy.

And can"t a woman have her dreamboats? Boy,
I wouldn"t say my life is incomplete,
but some evening I could certainly enjoy

two hours with Cary Grant as my own toy.
I guess, though, we were destined not to meet.
My husband has a crush on Myrna Loy,
which makes some evenings harder to enjoy



Image of Love
I see your face, I look into your eyes,
And I fall apart, can no longer even try.
Though I know beauty can be full of lies,

Nothing could alter your image for me.
If they could part the sands from the sea,
They never could part my love from me.

Here, there is nothing but rocks and stones,
No friendly souls or angels to guide you home.
Here, you are so, so very alone,

But I have seen your heart, know your words.
They tell me that my vision is blurred,
That my thoughts are slow, my words slurred.

Even love cannot look beyond an evil face;
It can't be missed, not a trace.
No, you're an image of pure grace.

True, beautiful perfection is what you are,
I look in your eyes and I can see the stars.
I'll always come to you, no matter how far.

-Emilly Schaffer
Debate Round No. 4


I have stuck with a dark/sardonic theme throughout this debate. I would like to give everyone a break from that, and offer something that--I think--is nostalgic and beautiful: "Mrs. Caldera's House of Things," by Gregory Djanikian. It is a poem of my choice, and I hope it affects you the same way as it does me. Enjoy...

You are sitting in Mrs. Caldera"s kitchen,
you are sipping a glass of lemonade
and trying not to be too curious about
the box of plastic hummingbirds behind you,
the tray of tineless forks at your elbow.

You have heard about the backroom
where no one else has ever gone
and whatever enters, remains,
refrigerator doors, fused coils,
mower blades, milk bottles, pistons, gears.
"You never know," she says, rummaging
through a cedar chest of recipes,
"when something will come of use."
There is a vase of pencil tips on the table,
a bowl full of miniature wheels and axles.

Upstairs, where her children slept,
the doors will not close,
the stacks of magazines are burgeoning,
there are snow shoes and lampshades,
bedsprings and picture tubes,
and boxes and boxes of irreducibles!
You imagine the headline in the Literalist Express:
House Founders Under Weight Of Past.

But Mrs. Caldera is baking cookies,
she is humming a song from childhood,
her arms are heavy and strong,
they have held babies, a husband,
tractor parts and gas tanks,
what have they not found a place for?

It is getting dark, you have sat for a long time.
If you move, you feel something will be disturbed,
there is room enough only for your body.
"Stay awhile," Mrs. Caldera says,
and never have you felt so valuable.


Thank you for judging, and thanks to Con for a great round! I hope you have all truly enjoyed this debate. Please vote Pro.


LtCmdrData Hats Off to you for conducting the poetry debates so well... Well for the third round I and another user mikicat10 have composed a poem as a debate. It goes on like this....

I got out of bed and stared blankly at the wall
The wall stared back at me and said I was small
Embarrassed and insulted, I stormed into the hall
And then I realized, I was not at home at all
because when I stepped into the kitchen I began to fall
then I landed on top of a big ball
the ball was on top of the mall
where two shopkeepers had begun to brawl
who were under the influence of alcohol.

I know it is a very short poem, but I like it and is A POEM OF MY CHOICE..

Lines in Bold are by mikicat10 and the rest by me.
Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Lazy_Lipids 3 years ago
Waiting for round 5.....
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by bsh1 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: R1 to Con (nice lyricality here for a ballad). R2 to Pro (Con was too abrupt). R3 to Pro (Berryman was more amusing). R4 to Con (Pro was too sing-songy). R5 to Pro (I loved the nostalgia this piece evoked.) Thus, arguments go 3-2 to Pro. Everything else is tied.