12 Degrees & Skiving

what began as year-long challenge has become perpetual until further notice

• Week 5 • Antilabe / Stichomythia •


Persephone: Please, sir, may I dissolve?

Hades: Wind your toes about the sand.

Persephone: Sink to where the world begins?

Hades: And the water begs backwards.

Persephone: Dredge all of my travellings?

Hades: Grow infinite with cycle.

Persephone: May my bones soften and flay?

Hades: Warm marrow to cool mud eye.

Persephone: My flesh by now feeds mosses –

Hades: And wintered flowers, grasses.

Persephone: Then I shed all these trappings –

Hades: You will shuck such losses –

Persephone: To stand naked in the storm.

Hades: Lingering is for the birds –

Persephone: They who pick the fingerlings –

Hades: My lapwing, daring both worlds!

Persephone: At this height, you’re silver-eyed.

The Antilabe had been scheduled for last week but because I found it difficult to locate a concise definition of the form with examples (that weren’t written in Ancient Greek or had conflicting definitions), I gave it over in favour of the Sestina. Yes, you heard right: I found the Sestina far easier a challenge than the Antilabe – albeit for different reasons.
Trying to describe to someone else what an antilabe is was impossible, because I was still trying to nut it out myself.

However, I had time for a bit research this week, which led me to ‘Stichomythy’ – another term, it seems, for Antilabe – and from there came a definition.

Each line seems to contain the same meter or syllable count and it could be spoken by either party, or by one speaker. It looks like the kind of dialogue that is used to drive a story not only forward (which is what all dialogue should be doing already) but also with subtlety steers the story to another direction, or a twist, or toward a climax.

I’m no Sophocles or Shakespeare but I hope this will suffice as my example of Antilabe.

2 comments on “• Week 5 • Antilabe / Stichomythia •

  1. poemation
    January 29, 2012

    Nice work! This is also working well and is really strong which are big reasons for using this form well done

    • ali in italia
      November 2, 2013

      Thanks Lucy (better late than never!!). I’m off to check your site 😉

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This entry was posted on January 29, 2012 by in Antilabe, Poetic forms and tagged , , , , , , .

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