Synonym Prompt: #TankaTuesday

Colleen at Wordcraft poetry suggested we write a syllabic poem using synonyms for the word “work” and “play,” and to contrast the two for this week’s #TankaTuesday.

I have to admit that the synonym prompts are not my favorite. I prefer a little looser prompt, and this was even tighter by the need to contrast them. So go ahead and hate my poem, which is three Badger’s Hexastitch stanzas put together. I used that form because I LOVE the name. It’s like a cross between something a witch does as a hobby and the town that Loretta Lynn sings about in “Coal Miner’s Daughter” (Butcher’s Holler).

For work I used the word “toil,” because it reminded me of two of my favorite poems (see below). And for play I used “entertain” and “rest.”

To toil

seems poetic

like Hopkins and Shakespeare.*

Entertain sounds lazy

as if I should

do more.

The cat

does not toil much

except to wash himself

or hunt food if he must,

but entertains

us all.

I hope

that I can be

more like the cat than me

and rest when I need to,

toiling just as


Hopkins is the Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem “God’s Grandeur,” and Shakespeare is Will himself, “Song of the Witches” from MacBeth. I loved to entertain my kids when they were little with the latter.

Here are both poems and you can see where I got “toil” from.

by Gerard Manley Hopkins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.


by William Shakespeare

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.
Macbeth: IV.i 10-19; 35-38

Source: The Random House Book of Poetry for Children (1983)

Now if you’re still reading, here’s a sonnet that I wrote based on the Hopkins poem which was published in Last Stanza Poetry Journal by editor Jenny Kalahar. After that you can see a pic of my cutie pie Meesker.

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod*
by Luanne Castle

and I am shackled to the backlit screen,
subjected to technology’s caprice,
my feet immobile, hidden, and benumbed,
my thoughts dispelled by cumbrous messages
of discounts, password problems, and a troll,
and so I scroll my Twitter notices
and scan What’s Happening, then Google God,
procrastinating still and find, alas,
my spirit drifts away, mere haze, but then
the images of light dividing clouds
is how we see the brightest wings and warmth
and you appear and take me by my hand
to share the garden, smell the sweetbush, hear
the cactus wrens, and trill for butterflies.

*Title is a line from "God's Grandeur"


Filed under #amwriting, #poetrycommunity, #poetswithcats, #TankaTuesday, Cats and Other Animals, Poetry, Writing, Writing prompt

34 responses to “Synonym Prompt: #TankaTuesday

  1. Amy

    OK, I don’t understand any of the poetry lingo, but I found it rather amusing that you made a typo and wrote “word” not “work’! So I do love word play so I read on… LOL!

  2. I absolutely love your poem, Luanne! We should all seek to rest more and only work when necessary. 🙂

    Yvette M Calleiro 🙂

  3. Toil does sound more poetic than work. Lol.
    We really liked the movie version of Macbeth that came out a couple years ago with Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand.

  4. I really really like your poem Luanne. I feel guilty when I’m not toiling and wish I could just entertain myself with my stories all day long – but I am nothing like a cat. 😏 thanks for including the poems of Shakespeare and Hopkins. Very Cool.

  5. I LOVE your “Generations” poem!

  6. Hi Luanne, a great poem for the prompt. I also enjoyed the other extract from your poem, God’s grandeur. This quote from Macbeth is my favourite by far.

  7. Luanne, I like the smorgasbord of poetry here. “subjected to technology’s caprice” what a perfect expression for it.

  8. I stayed with you for the whole ride, Luanne…and loved It!
    A little bump with the double, double Shakespeare poem.
    I particularly liked the words from Hopkins “nature is never spent.”
    Point taken. Here’s hoping he’s right.
    Such a great mixture of works + an adorable black cat, too!!

  9. I am not well versed in old poetry so it was nice to read them… I enjoyed your words and explainations.

    …if we just glance at the right time we’ll see the heron fly across the creek… and be careful not to trod upon the little garden snake hidding in plain sight amid the grass of the yard. Perhaps just a little cat like to observe those things – 😀

  10. I think your older poem met the brief of work versus play too, though not with the actual words. They both tell us to wise up and not spend all our time on work, though the first is light-hearted while the older poem seems more frustrated!

  11. I love all the poems, but especially the last one. Sounds so much like my experience in front of the computer 😉

  12. I love your poems, too. Despite the restrictive tightness of the synonym prompt you have written a really amusing poem and I adore the pattern on the ‘paper’. Gerard Manley Hopkins is one of my most favourite poets and your poem in his style is just wonderful!

  13. and rest when I need to,

    I am so with you, Luanne!
    Alas, no rest for the weary…

    Much love,

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