Poetic Inspiration – A writing prompt from Elise Holland

 

Poetic Inspiration: Let a Favorite Poem Breathe Life into Your Short Story

Reading poetry is a great way to inject beauty and inspiration into our daily lives. Select a poem that resonates with you, and let it inspire you as you write your next short story!

In order to provide a specific prompt, I suggest Shakespeare’s Sonnet 25, which showcases a theme of the power of love. Beneath the poem, you will find suggestions for other poets (both classic and contemporary), as well as specific ideas for incorporating poetic tools such as theme, imagery and rhythm into your prose.

The Prompt

“Let those who are in favour with their stars
Of public honour and proud titles boast,
Whilst I, whom fortune of such triumph bars,
Unlookt for joy in that I honour most.
Great princes’ favourites their fair leaves spread
But as the marigold at the sun’s eye;
And in themselves their pride lies buried,
For at a frown they in their glorie die.
The painful warrior famoused for fight,
After a thousand victories once foil’d,
Is from the book of honour razed quite,
And all the rest forgot for which he toil’d:
Then happy I, that love and am beloved
Where I may not remove nor be removed.”
– William Shakespeare
Sonnet 25

Tips

There is a vast array in styles of poetry, and not every single poem will resonate with you. With a little persistence, you will find the unique voices and poignant words to inspire your prose and warm your soul.

 

  • Interested in classic poetry? Consider delving into this book, which serves as a lovely anthology, showcasing the work of thirteen classic poets.
  • Consider that various aspects of a poem can inspire your short fiction. Here, we will examine theme, imagery and rhythm.
  • When studying a poem, look closely at its theme.
    Did the poet wax melodic about love?
  • Did he or she speak ardently about a particular social issue or current event that resonates?
  • What aspect of this theme are you drawn to, and how might you incorporate it into your own work?
  • Evaluate the imagery in the poem you study.
    • In the above poem, Shakespeare says “Great princes’ favorites their fair leaves spread, But as the marigold at the sun’s eye; And in themselves their pride lies buried, For at a frown they in their glory die.” What he is referring to, is that happiness found in shallow pursuits (in this case, in the fickle favor of those in high places) is fragile, and is often found wanting.
    • Later in the above poem, Shakespeare says “Then happy I, that love and am beloved Where I may not remove nor be removed.” In this way, the poem states that it is in unwavering love (where I may not remove or be removed) that true happiness is sought and found.
    • What images speak to you? How might you incorporate versions of them into your next story?
  • When considering rhythm:
    • Consider sentence length variety. For instance, one very short, moving sentence can have significant impact after a longer, complex or compound sentence.
    • Are you drawn to rhyme? You might include a subtle use of rhyme in a paragraph you are trying to drive home, or make memorable.
  • Once you’ve written your story, think about submitting it to literary magazines and/or journals. We would love to review your work at 2 Elizabeths! (2Elizabeths.com)

About Elise Holland

Elise Holland is co-founder and editor of 2 Elizabeths, a short fiction and poetry publication. Her work has appeared in various publications, most recently in Darling. Through 2 Elizabeths, Elise strives to create value and visibility for writers, through writing contests, events, and more!