Sunday, October 7, 2012

Prompt - Stanza Story

Sometimes professors have the coolest prompts.

Last week our class was assigned a prompt to write a story based off of a stanza from a famous poem.  So I want to challenge you all to do the same.  The poem we were provided was, "Resurrection of the Dust," by John McKernan, because of copyright issues, I will not be using this poem, but rather a classical work, that has no risk of Copyright infringement. So for this prompt I shall use "The Phoenix and the Turtle," by William Shakespeare.

The purpose of this poem is to choose one stanza. That stanza will be the beginning of your story.  You should challenge yourself by limiting your story to one or two pages.  Practice quick and concise writing, however, if you go over, that is okay too!

The Phoenix and the Turtle
By William Shakespeare
Retrieved from here.

The Phoenix and the Turtle

Let the bird of loudest lay
On the sole Arabian tree,
Herald sad and trumpet be,
To whose sound chaste wings obey.
But thou shrieking harbinger,
Foul precurrer of the fiend,
Augur of the fever's end,
To this troop come thou not near.

From this session interdict
Every fowl of tyrant wing
Save the eagle, feather'd king:
Keep the obsequy so strict.

Let the priest in surplice white
That defunctive music can,
Be the death-divining swan,
Lest the requiem lack his right.

And thou, treble-dated crow,
That thy sable gender mak'st
With the breath thou giv'st and tak'st,
'Mongst our mourners shalt thou go.

Here the anthem doth commence:—
Love and constancy is dead;
Phoenix and the turtle fled
In a mutual flame from hence.

So they loved, as love in twain
Had the essence but in one;
Two distincts, division none;
Number there in love was slain.

Hearts remote, yet not asunder;
Distance, and no space was seen
'Twixt the turtle and his queen:
But in them it were a wonder.

So between them love did shine,
That the turtle saw his right
Flaming in the phoenix' sight;
Either was the other's mine.

Property was thus appall'd,
That the self was not the same;
Single nature's double name
Neither two nor one was call'd.

Reason, in itself confounded,
Saw division grow together;
To themselves yet either neither;
Simple were so well compounded,

That it cried, 'How true a twain
Seemeth this concordant one!
Love hath reason, reason none
If what parts can so remain.'

Whereupon it made this threne
To the phoenix and the dove,
Co-supremes and stars of love,
As chorus to their tragic scene.


BEAUTY, truth, and rarity,
Grace in all simplicity,
Here enclosed in cinders lie.

Death is now the phoenix' nest;
And the turtle's loyal breast
To eternity doth rest,

Leaving no posterity:
'Twas not their infirmity,
It was married chastity.

Truth may seem, but cannot be;
Beauty brag, but 'tis not she;
Truth and beauty buried be.

To this urn let those repair
That are either true or fair;

For these dead birds sigh a prayer. 

Obviously a problem arises in that this is not a modern poem, so your story may take the feel of this poem. Feel free to use the stanza in quote form.  Use it for characterization, whatever purpose you need.  Just have fun with it. If this poem is too difficult, choose a different one. Just keep in mind copyright laws when you do so. 



  1. I think this is a really fun prompt and the part that appeals to me the most is the writing concisely. The books that I have been reading talk about saying exactly what you mean to say and not going on about things that are not necessary to propel the story onward.