Originally Posted by Marion Shore
All these castle images, sand castles, cloud castles, ice cream castles, tenement castles, etc. etc. why?
Because it's not cliché. It's classic.
Because what better image is there for ephemeral beauty, for disappointed love, for dreaming the impossible dream... If you can come up with one, let me know.
If this poem does it for you, Marion, there’s no arguing that fact. But your defense doesn’t get around the issues people were pointing to here.
Just because a metaphor is perfect for a particular emotion doesn’t mean it can’t wear thin—aka become cliché or hackneyed. It’s probably quite some time since anyone here wrote an earnest poem with nightingales and roses in it to describe their experience of love—and did it in such a way that readers felt the intensity and meaningfulness of it. And yet those metaphors worked for centuries, were considered excellent ways of expressing those feelings.
But even allowing that an old metaphor might be resuscitated, it’s going to need memorable language or some surprise to carry it. And this translation doesn’t have that. It’s not a question of who’s romantic or not, and in fact the poem is very easy to understand. It’s a question of all the cells of the poem—imagery, metaphors, sonics—coming to life and being memorable.
Joni Mitchell’s “ice cream castles in the air” works because the song is good, and maybe because adding “ice cream” gives the metaphor a lighter touch.