Lament Imitation: CEO’s Demise

As you prepare to finish your imitations, I wanted to share a few final thoughts.

Your lament will succeed to the degree that you can follow this rule of art: “show, don’t tell.” Help your audience encounter the speaker’s pain by creating pictures that show us the tragedy rather than using language to merely report on the facts. These images will help you achieve that tone of frenzy and hysteria that sometimes characterize speakers like Antigone and Andromache. In the further pursuit of that, look for cliches in your lament and try to refigure these with new language in pursuit of the same sentiment. Cliches dull the sharpness of emotion by attempting to convey a reality or event in language that’s familiar—but the shock of grief isn’t familiar; it’s cataclysmic.

Also, in all the examples we’ve read, the poets like Homer and Sophocles use careful enjambment to visually highlight certain images. I’d like to see your laments do a similar thing. Think about the way that Lombardo’s translation of the Iliad prioritizes certain images with the way he constructs his lines before moving on to new images.



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