Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sestina


Six Words by Lloyd Schwartz

yes
no
maybe
sometimes
always
never


Never?
Yes.
Always?
No.
Sometimes?
Maybe—

maybe
never
sometimes.
Yes—
no
always:

always
maybe.
No—
never
yes.
Sometimes,

sometimes
(always)
yes.
Maybe
never . . .
No,

no—
sometimes.
Never.
Always?
Maybe.
Yes—

yes no
maybe sometimes
always never.

In “Six Words” Schwartz uses only the words yes, no, maybe, sometimes, always and never to express the ambiguity of words. Tone is evoked through caesura and the placement of the words. The differentiated punctuation creates pauses and tone in the poem. The dashes and ellipses create pauses, while question marks create a questioning tone. In each stanza, the meaning of the 6 words changes because of context. The first stanza simply states the 6 words. The second stanza creates a dialogue where the first, third and fifth words are questions. The second, fourth and sixth words are the responses. The poem exemplifies how the context and punctuation of just a few words can drastically change their meaning.

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