Undine

This unknown, unheard, novelty of word
stops me dead before the full point. For breath
to reprise the two-toned notes like a bird

at sunrise. Short – then long — upon the tongue
un skips quickly between split rictus lips
to merge as one. The magic word is sung

over oceans, channels, beyond the bay
where ships seek shelter, down the deepest sound
of elemental water. In this way

liminal beings rise as sprites upon
earth, torn between mankind and wave of sea
without soul to rest eternity on


Undine (ondine alt. sp.) –  a category of imaginary elemental beings associated with water and a word I’ve only just encountered in Garlick’s “Poem of Manorbier”:

Hosting this Tuesday's Poetics prompt: "Three from the Welsh-Speaking sea", I chose another poem of of Raymond Garlick's and a list of his tercet rhyme sets to use in our own poetry. Pentameter was an additional optional challenge

32 Comments on “Undine

  1. This is a marvelous painting of words. I think I could hear the cries of sea-gulls rising those sprites from the sea. Being self-quarantined a bit this is a wonderful reminder of what the sea is.

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  2. I enjoyed your exploration of ‘undine’, Laura, and the idea of water spirits or nymphs. I especially love the way you explore the sound of the word as ‘two-toned notes like a bird / at sunrise’ and as a magic word. I’m attracted to any kind of writing about the sea.

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  3. Great use of the prompt, using 4/5 choices. This is very good poetry; the prompt did not impede your poetics. I liked the line /down the deepest sound of elemental water/. Living next to Puget Sound, I could dig it.

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    • I very much appreciated your feedback as the main challenge for me was using pre- given rhymes and making it sound fluid and original

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  4. There is a mystical atmosphere around your words, almost as if you were calling them forth. Beautiful, Laura.

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  5. Interesting prompt and post, Laura! I never heard of the mythological undine before.

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  6. We humans ahace really battered the earth , ocean everything . Its better we take control of the situation.

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  7. What a lovely piece – it flows very naturally, and your line breaks and enjambment are exemplary. The theme is beautiful, timeless. Loved it.

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    • many thanks Sarah – this was an unusual prompt choice for me as I am normally uncomfortable with rhyme – hence I did work hard on those breaks and line slips 🙂

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  8. Using some else’s ideas is hard, especially when they turn inevitably in a particular direction. You used them with originality though, and the run on lines are very effective.

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  9. “luminal beings rise as sprites” … great image. Creative write.

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