This is the first stanza of Johann Moser's "Winter in Panchavati," which is itself inspired by the Ramayana (a great epic which I have never read):
"Lordly, these forests in the winter, o Rama,
And the Godavari, droning in its deep mountain gorges;
Lordly, these sun-bright uplands and arch-blue skies
And red jungle blossoms nodding in the breeze;
Lordly, all these tranquil days and starlit, frosty nights,
When by the warm brazier we blend the fragrant wine -
And we remembered you, Ayodhya, gracious city of flowers,
Gracious city of the jeweled hills beyond the mountains;
We longed to stand once more at the threshold of your glory."
This stanza has no rhyme and its rhythms are irregular. But the next two stanzas repeat the first stanza's form, placing triple adjectives and formulas and names of cities in the same places. I was struck by this way of giving form to verse, and I tried imitating it last Christmas... but I ran out of interest and put the poem aside until today, when I finally filled in three missing lines. I had made the form harder for myself by adding rhyme, and the poem became very hard to control. The matter of the poem is the Lent and Easter I spent in Rome. ("Morning stations," i.e. the station churches, were the best penance I have ever done because I hate getting up early but once you get to the church, it is wonderful.)
Daybreak: the aquaduct pours light, o Roma,
Bare-headed dawn in the metro waits, lonely and shy.
Daybreak: the streets are empty for archangelic hours,
And the dark domes rise in rank on the tide of wonder.
Daybreak: everlasting fountains flash like bells
When we take our morning stations, armed with our youth.
And we remembered you, Zion, quiet city of sunrise,
Quiet city of perfect waters and white courtyards;
We longed to wake in the sweetness of your gaze.
Afternoon: the slow discordant chime, o Roma,
And the long walk home, under a silver sky.
Afternoon: the Appian Way walled with antique flowers,
And the heavy heat come to a head of rose-red thunder.
Afternoon: our fear of judgment wells
When we feel the April tempest's gleaming tooth.
And we remembered you, Zion, fearful city of lightnings,
Fearful city of victorious beauty and everything in an instant;
We longed to walk in the triumph of your praise.
Midnight: the Paschal fire shines, o Roma,
The shades of night are holy where they lie.
Midnight: now awake in every tower
The bells are dancing over Egypt's plunder.
Midnight: water falls from brazen shells
When we sing the new-born lambs in their field of truth.
And we remembered you, Zion, espoused city of glory,
Espoused city of singing gates and gardens of dancers;
We longed to live in the wedlock of your ways.
I like the first stanza best, but as it progressed the poem came to feel rather gushy. I don't think that this kind of complexity is very profitable, and I still prefer complex chiming and other stuff that happens within one line to overarching schemes that aren't readily apparent to the ear. Thoughts?