The Power Cut

The Standard Habbie Stanza as used by Robert Burns, among others:   I am in the middle of a Future Learn course on the Scottish bard, and have been intrigued by the structure of eg The Vision. 

The Habbie Stanza consists of six lines of iambic tetrameter, with rhyme pattern aaabab.  The 4th and 6th lines are  indented in trimeter:

Eg this rough transcription of stanza 10 from the original manuscript of The Vision by Robert Burns

A hare-brained sentimental trace
Was strongly marked in her face;
A wildly-witty, rustic grace
……….Shone full upon her;
Her eye ev’n turned on empty space,
……….Beamed keen with honor.

I thought I’d have a go at the form for Margo Roby’s Lights Out prompt on power cuts (I believe Americans call these outages).

New-met friends were gathered here
at twilight for a game of bridge, where
leg of lamb in oven there
……………….was roasting for our dinner.
There came a bang, the power no more
        ………. left without e’en a glimmer.


I gulped and rushed for candles bright;
served the lamb, a bloody sight,
hoping their discretion might
……….forgive the error.
Their middle name Sophisticate
……….had banish’d all my terror.


Convivial friends they soon became ─
by candle light we played the game
the shadows not enough for blame,
……….but relishing the shimmer
thrown around by waxen flame
……….and we were chums for ever.


The new-met friends were the British High Commissioner to the Republic of Seychelles (equivalent to Ambassador in non-Commonwealth countries) and his wife.  We loved them immediately as H.E., unasked, shed his shoes at the front door on arrival, in accordance with local custom.


All poetry, prose and pictures posted here, except where otherwise stated, is my own, and may only be used elsewhere with my expressed permission. Please don't be inhibited from correcting my bloopers and making suggestions: Most of what I post here is instant, ill-considered and off-the-cuff, in serious need of editing.
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15 Responses to The Power Cut

  1. julespaige says:

    Well done! Not a form I’m apt to try. Meter, not being my friend and all. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Misky says:

    Now that’s an impressive piece of writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are wonderful at mastering new – and old – forms. I love this.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. barbara_y says:

    Neat form. It would have me grinding my teeth to nubs, but you make it wiggle and hop.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. tialys says:

    This is fun Viv. Sounds like a great evening – apart from the bloody lamb which I would have detected even with the lights out.
    I take my shoes off when I enter my own house – sadly, nobody else does.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I so enjoyed the story telling tone and rhythm of the form…fun poem…I can see that candlelight flickering and the underdone lamb! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The removal of shoes – a custom that I would like to see here (especially during mud season)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. catterel says:

    Oh yes, that works!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. pmwanken says:

    Oh, ViV…absolutely charming! I love it. The story….the form…….and the insight into why you used the form. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  10. katechiconi says:

    It’s a classic Burns form, isn’t it? Even another story told to that rhythm conjures up ‘Ode to a mouse’. I do love the tale of your gala night with His Excellency, though!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. margo roby says:

    I love the effect of the form. You’re right, it does work well to tell a story.

    Liked by 2 people

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