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Keith Tse


  • Writer's pictureKeith Tse


‘Beautiful, she enters my life,

She has power over me, desperately, I am drawn to her,

I look back at her, mysterious.’

I recently discovered this very old poem of mine hidden somewhere in my folders. I had completely forgotten about it but as I recall, this was entered for the National Young Poets Competition (2003) and went through to the final round. It was subsequently published in the national collection of poetry by young poets (< 18 y.o.). I have not read this in years and reading it again has jerked some funny emotions. It has gone so long under the radar that I have to do a fresh literary analysis on it just to remind myself of what I wrote. Those of you who know me know how much I love Latin love and erotic poetry, and there are many resemblances here with Catullus’ famous poem 85 odi et amo ‘I hate and I love…’. Thematically, there are also echoes of Medieval Romance love poetry, namely courtly love, which is ultimately derived from the Roman concept of servitium amoris ‘slavery of love’. Stylistically, the syllabic structure of the poem goes like this:

– – -, – – – – –

– – – – -, – – -, – – – – –

– – – – -, – – –

This poem is composed of combinations of three syllables and five syllables, and it is symmetrically constructed with the first line (3 + 5) and the last (5 + 3) mirroring one another (a mini-ring composition) and sandwiching the middle line (3 + 5 + 3). Following this syllabic structure reveals some uses of elision, which is inserted for poetic effect e.g. power over, desperately, mysterious. As for the identity of the woman in question, I shall leave it open, though I will say that I wrote this when I was still at school (2003) so it could not have been someone from my university days. Please do not draw any false comparisons, or it could lead to lawsuits, divorce settlement and child custody dispute, which I can definitely do without atm.

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