Poem Tryouts: Blazon It!

29 Jul

7:28 a.m. — San Antonio

listening to the neighbour’s lawn mower

Hello everyone. I can’t believe August starts in a couple of days. The downside of summer is upon us. Today, I want us to explore Blazons. It’s an old form (13th c.), originally used to detail the various parts of a woman’s body; a sort of catalogue of her physical attributes. The term is taken from the official, written description of the coat of arms, called the ‘blazon of arms,’ a system to denote colours, placement, and styling by using an economy of words.

What does this mean for us? Imagery like we’ve never done imagery! Let me show you a blazon by Andre Breton:

Free Union

My wife whose hair is a brush fire
Whose thoughts are summer lightning
Whose waist is an hourglass
Whose waist is the waist of an otter caught in the teeth of a tiger
Whose mouth is a bright cockade with the fragrance of a star of the first magnitude
Whose teeth leave prints like the tracks of white mice over snow
Whose tongue is made out of amber and polished glass
Whose tongue is a stabbed wafer
The tongue of a doll with eyes that open and shut
Whose tongue is an incredible stone
My wife whose eyelashes are strokes in the handwriting of a child
Whose eyebrows are nests of swallows
My wife whose temples are the slate of greenhouse roofs
With steam on the windows
My wife whose shoulders are champagne
Are fountains that curl from the heads of dolphins over the ice
My wife whose wrists are matches
Whose fingers are raffles holding the ace of hearts
Whose fingers are fresh cut hay

The speaker has only reached her fingers! For the rest, if you are curious, go here. The blazon needn’t be positive and can be tongue in cheek. Note Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130, where he writes a short blazon listing attributes back handedly [such a rebel, that man].

I see no reason a blazon cannot be written about objects, pets, animals that aren’t pets, pretty much anything that has attributes. The attributes don’t necessarily have to be physical, though those are probably easier to work with. So. Think of someone, or something, List the qualities/aspects of your chosen subject.

To help create images of the more surrealistic kind (should you wish to emulate Breton), consider how each aspect you list affects you sensorily — taste, touch, smell, sight, sound. Let your emotions go.

I look forward to your poems. Blazons fascinate me (I have no idea why). I shall see you again, next Tuesday, for a wintery day.

Happy writing, all.


Posted by on 29/07/2014 in exercises, poetry, Summer


Tags: , , ,

46 responses to “Poem Tryouts: Blazon It!


    29/07/2014 at 1:19 pm

    An interesting form, challenging. I don’t do surreal (if I can help it) but an exercise in imagery is just what I need at the end of a monthlong challenge about caming!

    • margo roby

      29/07/2014 at 1:36 pm

      Hello, ViV! I have been enjoying your visits. I still have a couple of posts I need to get back to to comment [this may, or may not, happen].

      I look forward to a blazon from you. Go imagery!

  2. georgeplace2013

    29/07/2014 at 1:51 pm

    Never heard of a blazon, looks interesting and the example you gave is wonderful. I’m going to putter around with this and, hopefully, have something to post.

    • margo roby

      29/07/2014 at 2:28 pm

      Lovely! And, yes, Breton’s imagery is incredible. I’m thinking maybe a copy change might help those, like me, who find metaphorical imagery difficult.

  3. Hannah Gosselin

    29/07/2014 at 8:06 pm

    Wow…I love the example and I was curious, the closing about her eyes and the forest is so poignant.

    Thank you, Margo for introducing this form to us! 🙂

    We’re indeed nearly on the flip-side of summer! Sigh.

    • Hannah Gosselin

      29/07/2014 at 8:34 pm

      Here’s one that I quickly pulled together…that’s a fun way to roll, poetically speaking! 🙂


        30/07/2014 at 4:01 am

        You’ve really achieved the form. Sad I am that I was unable to follow your example!

        • Hannah Gosselin

          30/07/2014 at 7:39 am

          Thank you, Viv…I found that using his skeleton or outline and filling in the blanks with my own choice of person made it do-able…I did pause at first, thinking it might be difficult but as soon as I set that idea aside and just plunged in I found it was easier than I’d first expected it to be. 🙂

          • margo roby

            30/07/2014 at 7:58 am

            I realised after posting, that I should have suggested a copy change, so I’m glad you came up with that, Hannah.

            • Hannah Gosselin

              30/07/2014 at 8:05 am

              I just had to look up the term copy change! 🙂 It seemed the easiest way to get similar result. It was great fun, Margo…thank you! 🙂

  4. georgeplace2013

    29/07/2014 at 10:49 pm

    I’m not sure it is completely a blazon. Feel free to critique and I’ll revise.

    • margo roby

      30/07/2014 at 8:00 am

      You’re pretty safe, Debi. The modern world does not seem as sure as they should what counts as a blazon. I’ll be over in a moment.


    30/07/2014 at 3:59 am

    Mine is not exactly a blazon either, but what do you expect from this rebel?

    • margo roby

      30/07/2014 at 8:00 am

      Grin. Nothing less, ViV, nothing less.

  6. Misky

    30/07/2014 at 6:34 am

    Other poets are claiming that their blazons aren’t blazons, so I reckon mine’s not either. Nevertheless, here’s my whatsit.

  7. rosross

    30/07/2014 at 7:26 am

    I have had to change my email address because WordPress was not sending me mail and would not let me post. Which is why no doubt I am now on moderation for the moment.

    And the reason for it all, it seems because I have been vocal in regard to Israel over the situation in Palestine, in passionate but moderate mode, someone has hacked my email address and registered me as spam. Both of my email accounts were hacked last week and since this controversy has been raging I am pretty sure it is the cause. The other day I had an article published on the issue and then my WordPress posts were prevented from appearing. When I did some research, being identified as ‘spam’ seemed to be the cause. So I changed my email address and now can post. Sorry about this but I am now on moderation but just letting you know it is me.

    • margo roby

      30/07/2014 at 7:54 am

      Good grief, Ros. Keep fighting the good fight.

      • rosross

        30/07/2014 at 8:00 am

        I intend to Margo. Excuse the vernacular, but ‘fuckem’ I say. I have been active now for a couple of decades, generally at an occasional and minimal level, except for the Cast Lead atrocity and now this attack and clearly they are so paranoid they try to hit the ‘fleas’ who object. On a positive note, and having followed this for so long, it is clear that while there have always been a few like me, now there are many, many more. 🙂

        • margo roby

          30/07/2014 at 8:04 am

          Love the vernacular response, Ros. I’m waiting for the US to be as outraged as it should. I am glad to see that many of its citizens are speaking out… and writing poetry and posting.

          • rosross

            30/07/2014 at 8:19 am

            After following this for two decades it was heartening to see that after the atrocity of Cast Lead, named for god’s sake after a Jewish children’s game and toy, that support for Israel on threads swapped from roughly 80% for Israel to 20% for Israel and more Americans were in support of the Palestinians. In the past few weeks I would say support for Israel has gone to 10% in the world at large and remained at about 20% in the US.

            There is no doubt that what Israel has become rests just as much on the shoulders of the US and to a lesser degree on the shoulders of many craven nations around the world, including mine, but there is also no doubt that the massive power of the crazy Christians and the Zionist Jewish lobbies in the US have been a huge factor in the US being a biased and dishonest broker on this issue.

  8. rosross

    30/07/2014 at 8:21 am

    Actually remains around 80% in the US that should have been although it may have dropped to 60% or less depending on which media outlet is running the story. And it can be difficult to assess because the bunkers in Tel Aviv are busy with kids being paid to post pro-Israel propaganda on discussion threads around the world and particularly in the US.

    • margo roby

      30/07/2014 at 8:24 am

      That’s pretty horrifying.

      • rosross

        30/07/2014 at 8:28 am

        • b_young

          30/07/2014 at 11:43 am

          The word knucklehead comes to mind. Everyone involved seems determined to be as evil and as petty as possible. Makes me want to throw tantrums and throw up.

          • rosross

            31/07/2014 at 2:40 am

            I think the truly sad thing is that when Israel was founded, even though it was immoral to partition Palestine against the will of the people and probably illegal, there was much goodwill and what has gone wrong is particularly unthinking US support but also the support by omission or commission of other nations for Israel to continue to refuse freedom or justice to the indigenous Palestinians so that now it has an apartheid state with the Palestinians in prisons like Gaza and bantustans. If Israel had had better friends who offered sound advice and told the truth about what it was doing, this tragedy would not have unfolded. 😦

  9. b_young

    30/07/2014 at 11:44 am

    The “blazon” follows the “madrigal”

  10. Hannah Gosselin

    30/07/2014 at 1:11 pm

    I decided to try for another!! Addicting form this Blazon!!


    • margo roby

      31/07/2014 at 2:07 pm

      Heading your way. It’s good to see you.

  11. purplepeninportland

    30/07/2014 at 11:46 pm

    Though not majestic as this form seems to warrant, I gave it a shot anyway.
    Mine is up at:

    • margo roby

      31/07/2014 at 2:06 pm

      While majestic is fine, one thing I was looking for was how we might write a blazon for these times. i think we have some wonderful ones here.

  12. barbcrary

    05/08/2014 at 1:28 pm

    I have been MIA for oh-so-long – still writing things, but with someone else calling the tune right now. By way of explanation for what I’m about to do, just know that I am brain-fried with poetry at the moment. My question: Did this prompt remind anyone of the old nonsense from grade (middle?) school, “Your eyes are like pools – cesspools!” Bwahahaha. That’s all I could think when I saw this. Sorry, Margo. You can ban me if you want, or just rap my knuckles if that will suffice.

    • margo roby

      05/08/2014 at 1:36 pm

      Sniffing stuff again, aren’t you? I’m brain-fried period! So glad you feel comfy enough to leap in. Talk about an exercise in tone. Your apology doesn’t sound at all apologetic. Keep visiting. The laughter is healthy.

  13. erikleo

    23/08/2014 at 12:21 pm

    Good ideas. You may be interested in my Ten Tips for writing poetry. 😉

    • margo roby

      23/08/2014 at 5:49 pm

      Much appreciated. I have your blog and will wander through it.


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