Today’s poetic form is called the pensee (from the French word for thought), and it is a lovely form – short and sweet, but with endless potential. Perfect for school lessons when students are starting poetry, as well as for accomplished poets. Today’s book is a beautiful anthology of poems enclosed within a stunning cover, titled The Path to Kindness.
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The Pensee Poetic Form
Pensée, (French for – literally, “thought”) is a thought expressed in literary form. There is Pascal’s Pensees, or Thoughts on Religion, which is basically a compendium of notes and thoughts (ranging from as short as a sentence to much longer ones). The pensee as a poetic form is sweet, simple, and structured, and asks the writer to condense their thoughts into five lines.
So What is the Pensée?
A pensee is a five-line syllabic stanza with each line specifying distinct aspects of the main subject/theme of the poem. There is no meter or rhyme to remember, just the syllable count and what each line talks about.
It is pretty easy to write, and only asks that you remember that every word counts. Using the right words matters and adds to the message and the tone of this concise form.
The Pensee’s Characteristics
So the pensee’s elements are that, at its most basic, it is:
- stanzaic: one five-line stanza (though doesn’t specify it anywhere that it has to be only one; so I am sure that it can be multiple pensees strung together for a series of related or even random thoughts)
- syllabic: syllable count of 2/4/7/8/6 across the five lines
- themed: the first line states the subject; line 2 gives a description; the third line specifies an action; line four, a setting; and the last line provides a final thought
- preferably centered and titled
So this is how it looks
L1: Subject: 2 syllables
L2: Description: 4 syllables
L3: Action: 7 syllables
L4: Setting: 8 syllables
L5: Final thought: 6 syllables
My Attempt: One
The first one is a draft (well, the next one too) I wrote in an attempt to
Smile, extend a helping hand
When things are hard and also not
Keep doing kindnesses
~ Vidya Tiru @ LadyInReadWrites
My Attempt: Two: NaPoWriMo – Day 19
Today’s NaPoWriMo challenge is to write a poem that starts with a command. So I decided to try to write another pensee and command my ever-wandering mind
Stop That Right Now
my mind –
Stop your wanderings this instant –
in the here, there, and everywhere!
Focus on the ‘write now!’
~ vidya tiru @ ladyinreadwrites
The Path to Kindness
Title: The Path to Kindness: Poems of Connection and Joy
Compiler: James Crews
Length: 224 pages
Genre: Poetry Anthology
Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC (April 12, 2022)
Source: Digital review copy from NetGalley
James Crews’s new collection, The Path to Kindness, offers more than 100 deeply felt and relatable poems from a diverse range of voices including well-known writers, as well as new and emerging voices. The collection includes prompts for journaling and exploration of selected poems, a book group guide, bios of all the contributing poets, and stunning cover art by award-winning artist Dinara Mirtalipova. A foreword by Danusha Laméris, along with her popular poem “Small Kindnesses,” is also included.
I read Crews’ How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope anthology during last year’s A to Z Challenge and loved it. So I knew I had to read this one when I saw it on NetGalley. And this book lives up to all its expectations, and more!
Each included poem is precious, unique, tugging-at-heart-strings, and so very beautiful. It is obvious that Crews has given much thought not only to the selection of the poems but also to how they are ordered in the book and also kind-of-grouped between the many reflective pauses across the book. Each of these poems, by themselves, and as a whole, show us how everyday matters, be it in the mundane routines or the things and people that surround us each day, and the unexpected as well.
Between the lovely poems that resonate through the power and beauty of their words, and the reflective, thought-provoking pauses and exercises, this book is a treasure-chest of joy and of ways to connect, with ourselves and with others. Don’t forget to read the foreword by Danusha Laméris, as well as the reading group questions and discussion topics for a few selected poems at the end of the book. Poet biographies as part of the backmatter are an extra bonus!
I started highlighting poems on my e-reader and then stopped when I realized I will end up marking almost the whole book. And I have already started using the reflective pauses to write, and to journal. Most likely some of those results will show up here on the blog soon, as a post or a poem.
Perfect for dipping into when you need to take a breather, and anytime else as well.
And that cover! Gorgeous, isn’t it?
Haven’t I said it all already? Worth adding it to the home library and makes for a wonderful and thoughtful gift for just about anyone.
Get it here
I want to mention the Poetry for Kids (and for Young People) series if you have not read them before. Each book features one specific poet, and I have read many of them already (though yet to review a few), and each one is a book to cherish and to hold and to have.
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear readers, have you read the featured book? Or any similar reads? I would love to hear your thoughts and recommendations. What do you think about the pensee poetic form? Will you attempt it yourself?
For previous posts in the challenges for this month, check out the links below: