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Old 04-28-2012, 10:58 PM
Alder Ellis Alder Ellis is offline
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Too decorous for my taste -- e.g., in the opening lines, "touched" instead of "ate", "met to dine together" instead of what a live human being would say -- met for dinner, or something. It's all on this slightly elevated, etiolated plane, and as such is in keeping with the meter, the rhymes, & the predictable orotundity of a sonnet. In short, a case in point of why to dislike sonnets.

I agree with Tim on the last line. Rhetorical overkill. But the idea of the sestet is potentially very good & moving: each man praying according to his own lights in a shared darkness, but drawn together by the subject of the poem (Elijah Sang Choi Lee -- what a great name). Elijah rescues the despairers, not by recruiting them to his own faith, but by recalling them to their faiths. I like that idea.
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Old 04-29-2012, 12:02 AM
Tim Murphy Tim Murphy is offline
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Alder, this strikes me as a judicious critique. I have a strong suspicion who wrote this, for the voice is instantly recognizable. He is not of my generation, rather a gentleman in his eighties, and I take that very much into mind when I approach a poet of this vintage. Call it Confucian filial piety on my part.
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Old 04-29-2012, 03:27 PM
conny conny is offline
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Moving, but flawed.

+Pretty impossible to crit.honestly, considering the first line.
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Old 04-29-2012, 05:21 PM
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Catherine Chandler Catherine Chandler is offline
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This story, told in plain language without sugar-coating, is very moving. By the way, "touched" is not a decorous euphemism for the word "eat" - when someone barely "touches" something, it means less than even picking at it. The hospital (or hospice) room scene is vividly portrayed. The play on the word "conviction" (which alludes to the condemnation in L1) is inspired. However, I agree with others that there's a tad too much Dylan Thomas in it, and the epigraph with the information about the stomach cancer/natural diet is superfluous. I think this sonnet has great potential.

Last edited by Catherine Chandler; 04-29-2012 at 05:51 PM. Reason: misspelling - so what else is new?
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Old 04-29-2012, 05:55 PM
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Jayne Osborn Jayne Osborn is offline
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I feel pretty sure who wrote this, too (though that will have nothing whatsoever to do with the way I shall vote), but I have to agree with Alder regarding "met to dine together"; it's just not what anyone would say. I'd almost prefer "met to eat together", but that's not brilliant either.

I can't get 'The room flickering from its dying light' to scan the way I'd expect it to, and pray and prayed are too close together for my liking.

Overall, whilst the sonnet is a moving tribute, IMO it's lacking a certain... je ne sais quoi.

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Old 05-01-2012, 04:05 AM
Christopher ONeill Christopher ONeill is offline
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I don't have the problem with 'dine together' some other posters have had. I take it that the speaker is inviting his dying friend out to an upmarket restaurant (some cancers have the ability to leave you surprisingly functional until you are very close to the end) only to find that social eating is simply no longer viable (this also reinforces the aptness of being unable to touch the fruit).

Metrically, I thought the piece was a tour-de-force. The heavy caesura at the end of #3 seems to set the poem off into a series of semantic quatrains which counterpoint the formal arrangement ( 4 - 7; 8 - 11). At a semantic level the sonnet comes very close to having its octave embedded between two triplets. I shall certainly learn technique from this piece.

But it is very easy to find other folk's faith, and other folk's deaths, uninvolving. The formal exhortation 'Let us pray' - more of an imperative in its normal usage than an invitation - sounded unhelpfully as if a Jesuit was talking, not a dying man; the suggestion that a saint's death was also somehow superior to an ordinary person's also made Mr. Lee seem distant and alien.

Which all poses an interesting problem: perhaps in being honest to the Jesuit Mr. Lee was the poem necessarily risks losing many readers' sympathy for him as a dying human being.

Some problems are insoluble. But I loved the technical aspects of this sonnet.
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Old 05-02-2012, 03:17 AM
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John Beaton John Beaton is offline
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I like this, largely because of its inclusiveness at the end. Mr. Lee may have believed a diet would save him, but he led a prayer which, in L13, afforded the other two men their convictions alongside his.

The title is too Dylan Thomas and L8 seems contrived.

Otherwise, I find this one quite touching.

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Old 05-02-2012, 12:01 PM
Sharon Fish Mooney Sharon Fish Mooney is offline
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Thinks this would flow better and be stronger with some rearrangement of stanza breaks -- two stanzas with 7 lines each OR one continuous poem

And delete "who turned to a natural diet to fight his stomach cancer" from the epigraph as the poem tells us this
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