Dear Poets:

Originally, I was planning on a different form for today.  However, considering today’s In-form Poet arrives on an unutterably terrible day filled with much sadness and pain, I felt the form I was going to use lacked the necessary gravitas and stillness.  So, instead, for today, our plan is to write the Goethe Stanza and next week, we’ll get to something which at least some of you might find a little lighter in spirit.

What gave me the idea for today’s form, as you will note, are the two columns lying [horizontally] in the middle of the stanza.  While not intentionally designed for that specific  purpose obviously, it can lend itself to work which is more able to contain sentiment and reminiscence for that particular day.  If you so choose.  As always, you are not being directed at In-form Poet to write to a particular theme.

If you visit Terry Clitheroe’s wonderful The Poets Garret, you will find a marvelous catalog of poetic forms.  For today, we are going to work on one of the forms found there: the Goethe Stanza.  Here’s the link for this particular form, if you want to see more examples of it:

As Mr. Clitheroe states:

Goethe Stanza … a very different poetry form than most poets are used to…  With this one, each stanza comprises a single line, a couplet and a single line.  Each single line rhymes with a line from the couplet: one starting and one completing the stanza.  Here is the suggested pattern (and yes, there is no set meter):

 x x x x x x x a

x x x x x x x b
x x x x x x x a

x x x x x x x b

Here’s an example of a Goethe Stanza I wrote a few years ago, which actually seems a bit apt right now:

The Phoenix Arises (by RJ Clarken)

There sits a dull grey pile of ash

created from a blazing fire
which sprung forth from a brilliant flash.

How many times can he expire

and then somehow be born again?

Still, we watch for his bright plumage.
The question is not how, but when

he’ll arise from cindered  tomb-age.

As you can tell from my poem, I still have hope within me.

That having been said, I’m really looking forward to seeing what you write today.

Ready…set…start poeming!  ~RJ



Concrete and steel may be reduced

Eternally to scrap and ash
By those whose souls would be seduced

To fashion madness, unabashed.

But hatred cannot silence love

Nor quell a hero’s bravery,
And would procure the freedom of

The heart ensnared in slavery.

© copyright Marie Elena Good – 2013

… and while we are poeming, Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides prompt for today is to write an appointment poem:



  1. Hope no one minds if I break the rules and post something I wrote just a few days after 9-11-01. Considering the day and date, I feel it’s appropriate.

    Floor 105

    As I look from my window on floor 105
    I have a wonderful view of the city.
    The sky is cloudless and amazingly blue.
    There’s an uneasiness to all of this beauty.

    Then I see from my window on floor 105
    On a course that seems not of the norm
    What looks like an airplane, a jet, very large.
    T’was the beginning of a terrorists storm.

    I look out with horror from floor 105
    As the airliner held firm it’s course.
    And I swear I could see the lone pilot smile
    Then I felt an indescribable force.

    As the plane disappeared below floor 105,
    The shake that ensued threw me down.
    Explosions and screams broke the morning calm
    These were foreign and unwelcome sounds.

    Then outside my window on floor 105
    A ball of fire blazed by in a flash.
    My office went dark as black smoke filled the air
    Then reality hit me at last

    The reality was that soon floor 105
    Might be the last place that I see.
    But I want to live so that I may mourn
    For those already dead below me.

    But I can find no escape from floor 105,
    All the stairwells are engulfed in fire.
    The elevators are gone, cut off by the blast,
    Can’t get down, and can’t go any higher.

    It seems that I’m trapped on floor 105.
    So I’ll wait for the rescuers to arrive.
    I’ll try and call home, just in case they don’t come,
    Say “I love you” while I’m still alive.

    That done, I reach out to floor 105
    And the many who’s fates are the same.
    We gather together as smoke fills the room
    And call on God’s wonderful name.

    Salvation occurred on floor 105
    As the saved led the lost to the Lord.
    The blood of Jesus gave them eternal life,
    While the fires of death nearby roared.

    Then we all realize that floor 105
    Will serve as our final resting place.
    I pray everyone who’s about to die
    Will soon look upon Jesus’ face.

    With flames coming near us on floor 105
    We all saw the angels gather ‘round.
    They stood over us as the inferno raged
    And took us up as the tower came down.

    (c) 2001 Earl Parsons


    “The truth,” he said, “is written grey

    and not the black and white
    that comforts minds that wish and pray.”

    I found that he was right:

    for when my heart was full of pain

    and you were nowhere near
    to calm me, much as sun dries rain,

    another eased my fear.

    copyright 2013, William Preston

  3. QUEST

    I looked for love around the world.

    I thought it surely would be where
    the earth and sky together curled

    upon each other, lurking there.


    But I had searched the globe in vain;

    there was no love on land or sea,
    and so, despair, in waves of pain,

    came laughing in cacophony.


    But then I felt a whispered glow.

    A silence rising through the din
    spoke soothingly: “You ought to know

    that love must always start within.”

    copyright 2013, William Preston

  4. The example for this form are magnificent, in my mind. Marie, as I read yours I felt a beat arising, almost a march, which fits the tone of your words, I think. The closest parallel that came to mind was Battle Hymn of the Republic. RJ, yours was almost all image for me, up to and including “tomb-age.” Wonderful play on words and pictures.

  5. Overcome

    Smoke hangs thickly above the place

    Where terror has been aroused,
    Where fear is raw in every face,

    And the flames are not yet doused;

    Smoke and ashes coloring grey

    A nation shocked, a land appalled,
    And all the innocent this day,

    Their bodies lying as they fall;

    Smoke hangs thickly above this place,

    But we’ll rebuild and overcome:
    Determination in each face,

    And hope arising with the sun…

    © Copyright Erin Kay Hope – 2013

    • Thanks so much, RJ.
      Yours is powerful, and creatively penned (as always). I believe the most powerful line in your piece is “The question is not how, but when.” It nails the thought and begs more. Brilliant.


    A butterfly flew by.

    She seemed an orange flivver
    careening in the sky;

    it left my heart a-quiver


    to know that, as she flew,

    strong winds could come, and render
    her journey all askew.

    I had no aid to lend her.


    But still she fluttered on,

    meandering to and fro
    and sampling pro and con.

    I wept, and watched her go.

    copyright 2013, William Preston

  7. I’d like to throw out a question for discussion. What’s the point of the Goethe stanza, with its line separations? Am I missing something? I feel like the poems I submitted would read and sound the same if the lines were closed up and the stanzas separated conventionally; that is, no line separations within the stanzas but maintained between stanzas. As I wrote my examples I gradually tried to make those intra-stanza separations meaningful, mainly by not punctuating within the couplet, but I still felt like I missed the point somewhere. What do you folks think?

    • Here’s another website which contains the Goethe Stanza, but eschews the eight syllables, instead having 4-4-4-5

      but my experience is that most poets use the eight-syllable line stanza.

      I say ‘stanza’ because I noted that on several websites, the first line, the middle two and the third line are each considered separate stanzas. If you write an additional four (or more) lines to make up additional sections of the poem, they actually become a Double Goethe Stanza, Treble, etc.

      But regarding your question, William, the only explanation I could find (and it’s not really an explanation of the form) is from this website:


      The great variety of styles in Faust reflects the range of the
      poem’s characters and settings. Some readers have said that Faust
      contains more poetic meters (measured, patterned arrangement of
      syllables) and forms than any other single work. Others think that
      it is stylistically too exuberant, that its large number of styles
      sometimes interferes with communicating a clear message.

      The styles include a sixteenth-century German form called
      Knuttelvers or Knittelvers (doggerel), which is irregular, though
      rhymed; ballads and songs, often as simple as folk songs; the
      trimeter (a line of verse with three measured feet) of classical
      tragedy, as well as the strophes (stanzas of the chorus as it moves
      to the right or the left of the stage) of the choruses;
      Shakespeare’s blank verse; the Alexandrines (iambic line of twelve
      syllables) used by the seventeenth-century French playwright Jean-
      Baptiste Racine; and prose (for one memorable scene). Gretchen
      expresses her feelings in a series of ballads and lyrics, which
      convey the folk simplicity of her character.” -excerpt from the posted paper.

      So, I don’t think I answered your question very well, unfortunately, but my personal take on this is the format of the form is more about the ‘staging’ of the poem, as opposed to simply the words of the piece.

      Which may be entirely wrong. 😀

  8. STOPS

    At beguiling times in life when everything seems fine:

    Sunday in Pearl Harbor, at a quarter to eight;
    Tuesday in New York, at a quarter to nine;

    one wonders: what provokes the squeaky wheel of fate?

    copyright 2013, William Preston

  9. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)

    Take Heart

    An evil lurks within our midst.

    We wonder when we’ll win release.
    In fervent prayer we dare insist

    that God would grant this whole world peace.

    True peace is only found in Christ.

    Trouble innately fills the earth.
    He overcame. He paid the price.

    Yes, take heart in the second birth.

  10. Pingback: Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane? Where’s Superman? | Metaphors and Smiles

  11. Strange…my link to the blog post I posted didn’t show up here…
    Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane? Where’s Superman?
    She wished it was just the sky-sighting of a Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

    on that eleventh September morning-just this bird’s calculated call,
    rather than the shrieks, crimson streaked…news-wire so black and bleak.

    She remembers as she listens to its song this uncertain sunrise, expert rise and fall-

    crisp and bewitched its voice trills, punctuating the stark and still autumn air.

    She feels the underlying pain associated with today-its insidious crawl;
    slow and cruel-time does not alleviate the weight of tragedy-despair,

    loss, grief and dashed hope hang heavily where towers once stood tall.

    Copyright © Hannah Gosselin 2013
    Process Note:
    After checking in @ my favorite poeming places I realized what day it was…it startled me that I didn’t think of it immediately.

    The last time that I looked at my bird of the day daily calendar was the first of September…so I stripped away ten days of negligence and discovered the Rose-Breasted Grosbeak.

    I read about this bird…it struck me funny that they described its song like this, “resembles the American Robin’s song, but given with more feeling (as if a robin had taken voice lessons).”
    I started thinking about this bird flying through the air and then immediately thought of the planes that terrorized the skies that day…and so my poem was born.

  12. Words for September 11. 2001

    When the bodies dropped as if from heaven

    No, not from heaven, hell has changed its place –
    On that frightful morn called nine eleven

    The sun shone on and did not hide its face.

    What terrible fury could produce such grievous pain

    On these ordinary pavements where multitudes have trod

    The buildings disassembled but what agonies remain

    Tumultuous before the eyes of God.


    In twenty-two minutes they chose

    what their final moments would be.
    When the call for action arose,

    it took shape on Flight Ninety-three.

    Informed of events taking place,

    they took charge of their destiny.
    A plan they were quick to embrace

    sealed the fate of Flight Ninety-three.

    The passing of years cannot fade

    this inspiring memory.
    Heroes, their courage well displayed,

    were aboard that Flight Ninety-three.

    © Susan Schoeffield

  14. Weathering Patterns

    Dusty August wind displaces

    topsoil powdery as chalk dust.
    Where is the rain that erases

    visions of brick hard clay’s cracked crust?

    Such rains fell summer through like grace

    as greening sprang from soil and seed.
    How quickly have we lost its trace

    to look at brittle ground in need.

    Perhaps earth’s warming plays a trick

    on people slow to grasp the cause,
    who see summer as kiln for brick

    and obfuscate all Nature’s laws.

  15. Grieving, Healing
    (a 9/11 poem)

    I don’t avoid a memory

    Even if pain is how it’s made
    Even when sadness stretches me

    Even if I’d hoped it might fade.

    I know depravity and wrong

    Even as I so long for joy
    Even as darkness has its song

    Whispering to dark souls, destroy.

    I can’t imagine how despair

    Can seek a path to devastate
    Can send its howls into the air

    Can rip holes in our common fate.

    But I remember just the same

    The planes, the shock, the crushing loss
    The wars that came, assigning blame

    As we all wear our albatross.

  16. The Lesson

    Alone we find it hard to stand

    And balance what we can’t remember.
    How much greater the demand

    What happened in that fell September.

    Together, when we stand as one,

    Collective memory beseeches,
    That we all learn what can be done

    When hatred bound in hatred reaches.

    Ellen Knight 9.11.13
    write a ‘Goethe Stanza’ for Poetic Bloomings

  17. Sorry, the last stanza was stuck in my head and I couldn’t get it out.
    Here is the way it wanted to be:
    The Lesson

    Alone we find it hard to stand

    And balance what we can’t remember.
    How much greater the demand

    What happened in that fell September.

    Together, when we stand as one,

    Collective memory beseeches,
    That we all learn what can be done

    When hatred bound in hatred reaches.

    But each other we must also teach

    as we help each other grieve
    How we stand together in the breech

    what strength of spirit can achieve.

    Ellen Knight 9.11.13
    write a ‘Goethe Stanza’ for Poetic Bloomings

  18. I like both versions of your poem. I think the first is a powerful statement, full of sound and fury (so to speak) but the second is kinder and gentler – and if there is a way out of all the bad things that can happen.

  19. Fortitude

    Some friends fade away,

    new ones come and go.
    Some friends forever stay,

    some we hardly know.

    Some friends get taken before their time

    in ways we could not foresee.
    Many bells began to chime

    the day you left them and me.

    Memory fades and muffles the fear,

    your image smooth and soft.
    But do not worry our path is clear

    we will never forget, even though you reside aloft.

  20. Twelve Years Ago

    I watched my building crumble to ash
    like a child’s sand castle in a wave of wind.
    Inside my head I heard a crash
    Flames split the building in a horrid grin.

    As a Dali painting, it seemed surreal
    ‘til evening when I stared, dazed at a screen.
    For weeks I sleep-walked through the ordeal
    Then saw names of the dead, and knew what it meant to keel.

  21. DELUGE

    A thunderstorm came tumbling through,

    as though to make up for a week
    of dryness, lacking even dew.

    Its anger was not for the meek.

    copyright 2013, William Preston

  22. “In Remembrance of Nine Eleven”

    The face denies emotion with a smile;

    the years of suffered loss bring less relief.
    Today reminds of gas mask worn awhile

    by firemen-stunned below the Tower’s grief.

    Our smile defies that memory recalled

    that day we ran, white-faced, the panic stings
    our skin and hair turned ashen, ag`ed all,

    that day we flew, white-haired, our feet had wings.

    (Goethe form)


    I still believe that peace will come

    Despite the way the world appears
    Where tyrants brandish hate and guns.

    I think one day we’ll cast off fears

    But first we must consider this:

    Rejecting God, we walk alone.
    Without Him we full short of bliss

    We cannot right wrongs on our own.


  24. Shells

    Walking on the shifting sand,

    My heart full of grief and woe;
    Stooping on the wind-swept strand,

    Perfect white shell speaks of hope.

    © Copyright Erin Kay Hope – 2013

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