Genera Ubi Sunt

Where are the Mahicans whose name means "wolf In the wolf-less mountains of the Catskill? The Tasmanians whose rocks are relics In the marsupial uplands of evolution? The Congoids who met Columbus, the Celts Who met the Norse in their holocaust sloops?

We, too, are explorers but cannot find them In our modems and books. We know all about Eur-asians and -arabs, the yearlings of war. Show us the lost tribes of Israel and Germania So we may follow the roads to Rome, annul The laws of endangerment, and love each other When love goes the way of the last Aleut.

Method of composition'. Answer the "what if?" impulse by imagining scenarios that did not occur (what if JFK had lived?), that cannot occur (what if I were an insect?) or have yet to occur (what if we became extinct?). Pick a topic or scenario that intrigues you or triggers your fantasies. Ask yourself why the topic or scenario excites you, and you should also discover your epiphany. Now imagine the various outcomes or consequences of your "what if?" topic. Rank those outcomes or consequences from least intriguing to most, and build slowly to your epiphany.

Nobody can guarantee that these methods of composition will work for you, but when coupled with all you have learned about craft thus far in this book, they should help you focus on a topic and balance the elements of sense and sound found in good lyrics. Ruth Daigon says that such verse results in an "Aha!" response in the listener, "the sense of discovery, of new understanding."

I experienced the "Aha!" response when I first read these lyrics included in the mini anthology:

• "Tides," by William Stafford. In this poem, Stafford reveals the true essence of the moon's pull on mortals.

• "Not Only the Eskimos," by Lisel Mueller. In this brilliant lyric, the poet reveals the true essence of snow.

• "Most of Us," by Jack Myers. In his poem, Myers investigates what cannot occur and reveals his own true essence in the process.

• "Eloquent Lingo," by Nuala Archer. In this elusive poem, Archer defines the essence of lyric verse.

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