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You Cannot Force a Willing Mind · Poetry Minific ·
Organised by Anon Y Mous
Word limit 15–1000
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A Parting of the Ways
You cannot force a willing mind
To fill the day's decree
You cannot point a pulsing soul
Toward eternity
You cannot march a songbird's feet
To mount the highest bough
You cannot wet a sailor's back
To turn it 'gainst the shore

You cannot spend a hundred years
To live within an hour
The time that's put is wrest away
Like essence from a flower.
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#1 ·
I like the sound and feel of this. It feels very, um, poetic.

Alternating between tetrameter and trimeter gives some life to the rhythm. This saves the repetitions of "you cannot ..." from overwhelming with their monotony -- which they could easily have if everything was in tetrameter, like some of the other entries.

I'm less sure I understand what it all means. The songbird and the sailor are the clearest images here. They seem to imply that "you cannot force a willing mind" means that if something is likely to happen anyway by its own nature, then it would be ridiculous to say you somehow "forced" it. By following that parallel, the first eight lines together seem to say that the willing mind will fill the day; the soul will approach eternity. Even if it's a bit unclear to me what that means in practice, those sound like good things. So far so good.

But then what happens in the final stanza? I suppose that's where ways are going to be parted. But the metaphors in this part don't "click" for me at all. The tone gives me an impression that the "you cannot ..." is now something to be sad about. I would be sadder if I understood more concretely what it is I cannot do, though.

Anyway, kudos for grappling honestly with how to make sense of the prompt.
#2 ·
I'm trying to figure out how the poem illustrates the title, but I'm not getting anywhere.

Structurally, the rhythm is good, except the fourth line is short one syllable and is off in the stress pattern. With the rhyme pattern you've set up everywhere else, it seems like the lines ending "bough" and "shore" should have rhymed, but they're not even slant rhymes, so it feels off.

As to message, I'm struggling with that too. The way the final four lines are set apart, even though there's not some fundamental change in what's going on there, still may have been a good move, as they seem to sum up what the rest was trying to say, but even then, I'm not sure. The imagery of the bird and sailor are talking about things they're likely to do anyway, but the opening lines and the final stanza are more about things you do have to force, so I'm not seeing the thread of the argument it's making.
#3 ·
You cannot force the sea of thought
Into a cup of verse,
But in the tea one mayhap see
A glint of universe.