Response Poetry

Response poetry is often one of the easiest kinds of poetry to write for poets who are starting out because it often relies on the text of another poet.

Writers just starting out in poetry will often imitate the style of another poet until they can find their own, and some even write poems outwardly replying to another poets work, like Sir Walter Raleigh’s response to Christopher Marlowe’s “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love.” Other options include building off a primary metaphor that the poem works from, stealing the first line of the poem, using a passage as an epigraph, turning prose into verse, or writing the opposite of the poem.

For further information about these techniques, go here.

Today, I’m going to give you a poem, and my response, and I’d love to see what your response poems would be in the comments either to the original poem or to my response.

The Young Man's Song by W.B. Yeats

I whispered, "I am too young,"  
And then, "I am old enough";   
Wherefore I threw a penny   
To find out if I might love.   
"Go and love, go and love, young man,
If the lady be young and fair,"   
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,   
I am looped in the loops of her hair.   
Oh, love is the crooked thing,   
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,   
For he would be thinking of love   
Till the stars had run away,   
And the shadows eaten the moon.   
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
One cannot begin it too soon.

Here’s my response poem:

A Young Woman's Lament

I spied him at the fountain
caressing a brown penny as he stared
a long time into the flowing water.
Dark curls tumbling to his neck,
a suit crisp and bright.

The dark copper revealing its shine
reflecting the sun's rays.
I smile at the thought, until
Whispering to himself,
he seems to argue, flailing his arms.

I scratched my head,
"He's cute, but clearly crazy," I said.
The fear crept along my skin
He turned to stare right at me.  With a splash,
he squared his shoulders, sauntered toward my dry mouth.

For today’s 2014 National Poetry Month: Reach for the Horizon tour stop, click the image below:


  1. I loved your response!

  2. I love it! Yeats is indeed cute but clearly crazy.
    Jeanne´s last blog post ..The Waste Land

  3. Beth Hoffman says

    This is great, my friend. Brava!