Water – Part VI – Highest Aim

Struggle to survive is the highest aim
in the wild. Whether woods, meadow, or pond
this fight for life is a constant. The same
desire resides in all creatures. Beyond
the basic drive to seek out food and drink,
shelter and companionship is the need
to be alive. I doubt that fish can think
of what’s beyond life, but they would all plead,
if they could, to hang on to it. To thrive
and continue, unending ’til time’s end.
Too many, though, of one fish would deprive
the rest. This problem, only death can mend.
It may seem strange, but there’s a place for strife
Some are destroyed that others can have life.


I’ll be guest-hosting the bar today at dVerse (doors open at 3pm EST – that’s 1pm where I live!).  I do hope that if you haven’t already visited this wonderful on-line poet’s pub that you will!  Today we are talking about the how form affects meaning, or why we have chosen to write in the form that we have…what we hope to accomplish.  The following is a brief explanation of the “why” of the structure of my poem.

In my Water sonnet cycle, I have been trying to stick fairly close to the Shakespearean sonnet rhyme structure, although I have consciously attempted to not over-use iambs.  In fact, if you were to scan my poems in this series, you would likely find that metrical feet don’t really work.  Each line has 10 syllables, but not necessarily 5 metrical feet.  If reading this out loud, you should not pause at line ends, but rather at thought ends.  Other than the last 2 lines, the rhymes should appear visually, but should not be overly noticeable to listeners.  My goal in doing this was to retain a certain structure, but to have a conversational tone.  I like the Shakespearean sonnet form for the opportunity to build up a story or an argument, and then have a bit of a “punch-line” at the end of the piece.

*please note: by saying that there is a place for strife, I’m talking about strife in nature in specific, and metaphorically, I’m referring to bad things do happen, but in the grand scheme of things, may be for the best.  I am in no way endorsing or condoning violence.

The complete cycle can be found by hovering over the The Elements – Sonnet Cycles tab up above, and then clicking on Water.


33 thoughts on “Water – Part VI – Highest Aim

  1. I share your way of a sonnet.. a punctuation overlay I would call it…. It provides a free-verse feeling and yet a very good sonnet. The message in your poem as summed up in the last couplet is excellent.. Your sonnet corona is developing very nicely.

  2. This poem describes well the balance of nature, or in some cases nature’s imbalance…though each living creature tries to survive and thrive some always have to die so others live.

  3. Some are destroyed that others can have life.. you know that part made me think of what jesus did for us… it’s a tough life out there and we often try to paint it in a rosy color but there def. is a lot of struggle

  4. For every fatality, a new life emerges in counterpoint, & these days of better pharmaceuticals & health awareness, maybe the birth rate doubles or triples the rate of deaths, natural or otherwise. Nice prompt, & though I rail against classic forms often, it is the awareness of the prosodic principles that enrich my own work; enjoyed your sonnet, sir.

  5. I especially love, “Highest Aim”, and the “Grand scheme of things”–that strife and “bad things” may ultimately have a higher good purpose. If I didn’t believe that a loving and merciful Lord has my life in His hands, the bad would surely sink me–but He’s promised to turn all the ashes into beauty.

  6. Because it was not so weighed down in iambs, I read halfway through this before I noticed the rhyme or the structure of the sonnet.

    “It may seem strange, but there’s a place for strife
    Some are destroyed that others can have life.”

    Your words remind somewhat of God’s culling, The flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the 40 years Israelites wandered the desert. .

  7. A beautifully constructed sonnet. I so agree with you that the rhymes should be discreet rather than in-your-face, and that metre should not be slavish. Even Shakespeare used the occasional dactyl, trochee or anapest, so who are we to complain?

  8. I like your sense of freedom in choosing a bit of play with the iambic pentameter. So often, in English, we do tend towards iamb and I find it loosely even invading my free verse. I’m enjoy this series, Bryan, and you as host today at the pub. Bravo.

  9. Bryan, I am impressed that you attempted a Shakespearian sonnet! I see you say you did not use too many iambs. I must say that I find iambic verse quite hard.

  10. A simple evolutionary piece.
    The broken sentences just to get rhyme does nothing for me. (?enjambment)
    Not sure if it is me, but it make reading hard and the poem a burden.
    Not my favorite style.

    I admire your playfulness.

    • try not to pause at the end of a line, but read until the end of a sentence. The rhymes should be so subtle as to be almost non-noticed. The beauty of poetry is that we don’t all have to enjoy the same styles, etc. Thanks for visiting!

      • Right, I read that suggestion in your post.
        The beauty of poetry, prose, art, music and sex is “that we don’t all have to enjoy the same styles.” But it is nice — when we produce things — to know what our readers/consumers/partners enjoy. Then we can decide if we are getting the effects we want, eh?

      • Absolutely! I appreciate your feedback, and even if you do not enjoy my style, you expressed your reasons in a thoughtful and respectful way, so thank you!

  11. Your poem reminds me of a scene in Annie Dillard’s “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” where she saw a water bug sucked a frog hollow. It disgusted me but I realize, just as your poem says, “Some are destroyed that others can have life.”
    I enjoyed your notes on how you wrote this.

  12. This made me think of a friend on FB who was upset today that one of the eggs in the mourning dove nest outside her window was on the ground, broken and empty. All I could think of was that some other creature must have been hungry and how I was glad it didn’t have to starve. I love your explanation of how and why you are using the sonnet for this series. Peace, Linda

  13. I had to laugh a little at your explanation that you are by no means condoning violence, just talking about strife in nature. Nature can be so violent, indeed…

    • I had to enclose the disclaimer…with some of the brutal things that some humans do to others, I could see someone using this as an excuse. I think, though, that you and my other regular readers probably don’t need that disclaimer 🙂

  14. I like, as Bjorn termed it, the punctuation overlay. You took a classic form, respected and honored it, and made it uniquely your own. I am liking your sonnets very much and applaud you for doing this.

  15. I’m still very new at poetry. Maybe that’s why I see a concept behind the printed word before I pay attention to the form. Your poem utilizes a very important topic in such a fresh and beautiful way 🙂 I’m happy to have found your blog

  16. This leads up to a powerful conclusion – the verse was balanced, and in a sense you showed how nature is balanced, though not always in peaceful ways, at all. In some senses the same could be aid about creativity, that needs strife.

  17. It is interesting. Last weekend I was watching survival shows with my son and without water, you will surely die. Fresh water, you can drink. On the primative level, we all want to live. I would say many of us want to live, as in feel alive. Look at all the crazy crap people do for a thrill. I wonder why many feel they can not live without that thrill.

    Death does have a place.
    Sorry, a bit late to your challenge, but I love hte way words sound and I think it was a revolutionary evolutionin my poetry when I discovered it several years ago.

  18. This makes me think about how awful you feel when you’re sick. All you can think about is how desperately you miss being healthy and well enough to participate in your regular daily life. Suddenly, what seemed boring and mundane before, now seems like the greatest thing in the world and you can’t wait to be able to do it again. Sometimes you have to be “near death” to really appreciate living.

  19. I really like the free verse vibe that you seemed to incorporate into the sonnet. I had to do a double take. It has a beautiful flow.
    It is interesting how it is our instinct to fight for life, yet we can so easily take it for granted.

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