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Old 09-01-2018, 09:43 AM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,337

Hi James, Jim, David, and Matt,

Thanks for your comments. A new revision is up.

Jim: you nailed what's happening, and why I think those middle stanzas are important. You probably should be more interested in the man and the woman; so should the "you," probably.

David: I think you're right on "call to you" and "climax," and I tried to address them in the introduction. It's possible the middle part and the end could be a separate poem, but I see them as integral as to what's happening. The middle stanzas serve as counterpoint in theme and style to what's around it, and in doing so contextualizes it in a way that would be lost.

James: Thank you for coming back, and for pushing me to cut the stage direction. I took your advice there and in italicizing it. I'm glad you see what the middle stanzas are going for, and that you're coming around on them.

Matt: Thanks for your thoughts.

To answer your question, and to expand a bit on my note to David, I think the lines add the important counterpoint to the two people on the train.

The "you" of the poem (and, to be frank, much like Jim it's a loose version of me) sees a man alone and probably needing companionship, and instead of actually doing something, he aestheticizes the experience, tries to turn it into a story, and that leads him to the story of the "powder of sympathy" with the Carmelite monk, who aids someone with magic, and that leads to the dog (utility and cruelty). All that's not necessary to grasp, I don't think, but the process isolates him. Thematically and stylistically (and even, I think, a somewhat horrible pun on "sympathy") the middle three stanzas are a counterpoint. Snapped back into place, the man begins to judge someone else who does what he might have done but is perhaps incapable of. Without the middle bit, the poem loses, in my mind, the contrasting ways of "sympathy," and we lose a sense of the you's isolation.

That's my take on it, and why I think it matters; I can imagine for some it may not work.
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Old 09-03-2018, 10:04 AM
John Riley John Riley is offline
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 3,917

Andrew, you've received some great suggestions. I guess I'm some sort of weirdo because I don't think the "drop of oil" simile works. I can't see the two images merging that way. Others love it so I guess my tin ear has returned. I do agree the poem is the man, woman, and the narrator's observations of them. I like that he has to swallow the story he's made up and see what is actually happening instead of what he thinks. That's important.
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