Writing Prompt #14, An “After” Poem

This week, I tried writing an “After” poem for the first time. Though I’m not sure how successful I was, I found the exercise to be both challenging and a lot of fun. For this exercise, choose a famous traditional poet (Frost, Shakespeare, Tennyson, Rossetti) and one of their more well-known poems to write a poem “after.” I chose Christina Rossetti’s “Song.”

When writing your poem, keep the first line of your example, with it’s traditional language and meter, and then write the rest of your poem using colloquial English. I tried to keep my form and meter at least somewhat close to the original, and used Rossetti’s “remember” and “forget” in the final two lines of each stanza. You might want to use an entire line of the original somewhere else in your poem.

Here’s Rossetti’s original poem:


When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.

I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.

And my “After” poem:

Rossetti’s Song

When I am dead, my dearest,
don’t marry anybody else.
Let no one cook your favorite
stir fry noodles, if I can’t.
Maybe you should get a dog
to sleep curled in the curve of your body.
Remember where you left your wallet,
and don’t forget to turn off the stove.

Travel, you’ve always wanted to.
Tell me about the rains
in Paris, the snow on the fjords,
the red dust of the Grand Canyon.
I won’t hear you,
but I’ll listen just the same.

Take the dog with you. He’ll remember
to touch your hand each night with his nose,
to listen until you forget
he’s not the one you were talking to.


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