wiki ballerina2

Ballerina in the music                                                      Strophe 1
Box, when the lid gapes you pirouette
Mindlessly round about in time
To a spring-loaded, clockwork tune,
A fixed smile for the story you mime,
No opportunity for regret.

Ballerina on the birthday                                               Antistrophe 1
Cake, always a silent statuette,
Dancing shoes mired in marzipan,
Why not sing when the candles burn,
Why while away your miniscule span
With dreams undreamed and with life not met?

Chassé to the Sydney Opera House,                               Epode 1
See how a real cast curtsies and bows
When all the auditorium stands
And the whole building billows with applause
Like a tall ship bound for new lands!

Ballerina in the theatre                                                   Strophe 2
Box, when you see yourself pirouette
Down on the stage, when you mark time
With tapping foot, do you still keep
A fixed smile for the story you mime,
A woman with nothing to regret?

Ballerina on a birthday                                                   Antistrophe 2
Jaunt, ever the smiling statuette,
Face all made up like marzipan,
Do you still wish that you could turn
Yourself round in a miniscule span,
Your life a dream and yourself unmet?

Chassé back into your music box,                                    Epode 2
Back to your birthday cake and the loss
You bore there with true insouciance,
Once more the girl that doesn’t give a toss
And who just gets on with the dance.


The poem is in the form of archaic Greek lyric, consisting of triads (strophe, antistrophe, epode). There are two triads in this poem. I’m a fan of the ancient Greek poets, Pindar and Bacchylides, both of whom composed for choral performance.  I used to teach rugby for youngsters and I found that the girls made the best forwards. The forwards are the guys that tough it out in the middle. The girls would go all day, making real progress bit by bit. The boys always wanted to score tries and they went backwards more often than not. Things aren’t much different when we grow up. The boys still chase their dreams and the girls still provide the steady platform for it.

Wiki aqueduct

From the wellspring in the mountain
To the city further down
Is an inhospitable terrain
Where falls disturb and hills oppose
The smooth, uninterrupted flow
Of cool, fresh water into the fine fountain
Hewn from marble blocks brought down
From the quarry in the mountain
By the civic fathers long ago,
And therefore water must be taught a
Lesson it spurns with might and main,
To glide above the landscape upside down,
Down inverted valleys (arches
Keystones always keep locked up),
Sauntering upon its path of stone
Along a gradient that marches
Three hundred feet for each foot down,
Until at last it comes down to a stop
In the fountain, at which point
Fetching water takes a shorter
Time and distance than it did before,
As if the mountain had come down
To join the gossips at their chore
Of carrying water round about the town.


Aquaducts are visual art, not just ancient plumbing! They represent a set of equal and opposite forces in harmonious balance while still communicating a sense of direction or flow. They are symbols of healthy organization. In this poem, the meter alternates every three lines between iambs (da-Da) and trochees (Da-da), representing opposite forces. The rhyming scheme includes half rhymes and internal rhymes (eg ‘Fetching water takes a shorter’, where ‘water’ is internal, just as it is inside the aquaduct), and a repetive use of ‘down’ to emphasise the architectural flow of the structure. Midway in the poem, I have included the kind of conceit you find in the metaphysical poetry of the 17th centry, where an image repesents some novel idea – here the image of the arch as an inverted valley. This is the moment in the poem when you should lose your bearings a little, as you do on a carnival ride, when you are turned upside down.