Friday, July 7, 2017

Poetry Friday: She Walks in Beauty...or does she?

Imitation:  not a crime, but a way of learning.

At least that's how the Poetry Sisters see it.  This month, we take a famous poem by Byron ("She Walks in Beauty like the Night") and write our own, inspired by its form, style, meter...whatever takes our fancy. Or doesn't take our fancy in this case...for upon reading this well-known example of Romanticism by a poet who believes in "the celestial nature of women," I said:


I'm not a romantic. I don't gush in public.  And why use poetry to praise a women's inner peace when in daily life you destroy all calm with your constantly unhinged behavior? At least reading Byron's train wreck of a biography led me to find his family crest, which is quite fun. (See above.) The motto is Crede Byron...or Trust Byron.

Riiiiiight.  As far as I can throw him.

As for the Romantic ideal of celebrating the “celestial nature of women,” the best I can do is praise the sea and its ancient feminine power.  And pound the hell out of crashing waves of iambic tetrameter....

Crede Byron (Trust Byron)

Two chestnut horses rear beside
a red-barred shield; and yet, above
this spat of muscled manly pride,
a mermaid floats, her foaming curls

as regulated as the tide;
they surge to meet her lifted comb
and skirt her sea-shined, cross-hatched sides;
her curves complete as halves of shells

un-landed; lorded not by shore,
she’s brine and bright with naught of night;
from salt she rose; now oceans roar
in throated coves: She rules. She rules.

----Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

You can find my Poetry Sisters echoes of Byron here:


Poetry Friday is hosted today by Carol at Beyond Literacy Link.


  1. Ha! That's one heck-of-a response to a poet you don't necessarily like and certainly don't trust. There's a mermaid on my family's crest as well. And, I never liked it there. But, this mermaid I like. If I can claim this briney ruling woman as part of my heritage -- I'm in.
    Well done. I love seeing how you all responded differently to the prompt.

    1. You have a mermaid, too? I'm envious! And yes---we Poetry Sisters seem to diverge in all directions with these "in the style of" challenges, which is super fun given how iconic the original poem usually is. We are rebels. :)

  2. This is SO empowering to me, this ending especially. I really mean that -- I read it out loud, with spirit. Take that, Byron!

    1. I wish I could hear you reading it, Liz. xo

  3. Yes on the general message, but I have to admit that your precise and fantastic description of the mermaid is what really swept me away. Well, that and the ocean roaring. I guess I love the actual image in your words as much as I love the symbolism of them!

  4. I love that line, "she’s brine and bright with naught of night", somehow you channel Byron even while introducing more honesty to the dialogue. She rules, indeed.

  5. I have mermaid envy as well!!
    I kind of spent college hating Byron, so this amuses me more than it ought. Celestial nature of women, indeed!

    1. HAHAHA! Byron was "mad, bad, and dangerous to know". And I've never minded him, really.

      Love the mermaid imagery here.

  6. Like Tanita, I love that you do research before you write and that you go wherever it takes you. I love the last stanza, but my favorite line in the poem is this mouthful, which is so much fun to read aloud:
    and skirt her sea-shined, cross-hatched sides;

    And did I mention I love your definition of imitation?
    Thanks for sharing today!

    1. Thanks, Tricia. I find that research both grounds and inspires me.

  7. HA! If anyone tells you to trust them, it's a sure sign that you shouldn't! ;-)

  8. Re: the crest. Before I read your poem, I just want to say that the bit at top looked like a turtle on a fence post before I brought the computer to my nose and examined it closely. Just sayin'...

    ...And now I'm blown away to see that your poem is about not just the crest, but that bit on top! She's as laudable as Liz's Mother Liberty! You go, girls!!

    1. A turtle on a fence THERE's a modest kind of thing to have on a family crest. :0

  9. Sara, I see where you went with this poem after examining that crest. It is an interesting perspective that you captured well. I am glad to see that the mermaid rules. Love this description: she’s brine and bright with naught of night.


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