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  #1  
Unread 07-14-2019, 10:37 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Default Ballad

Ballad for the two of you (R1)

It’s eighteen months since your you left.
That’s time enough to grieve.
But somewhere stuck inside of me,
my you does not leave.

So here I am still missing you.
I could call, but I won’t,
though it might help with moving on.
I want that. And I don’t.

Oh, why don’t I just call you up?
I know you would be kind.
But I just sit here talking to
the you you left behind.

---------------------
S1L1&2, comma -> full stop
S1L1: "since your you left" -> "now since you left" and back again
S1L3: 'doesn't' to 'does not'
S2L2 "'I could call you, but" -> "I could call, but ..."
S3L3, comma->period
S2L4 "and I want that ..." -> "I want that"
S3L3 was "But I stay sat here talking to"


Ballad for the two of you (original)

It’s eighteen months since your you left,
that’s time enough to grieve,
but somewhere stuck inside of me,
my you doesn't leave.

So here I am still missing you.
I could call you, but I won’t,
though it might help with moving on,
and I want that, and I don’t.

Oh why don’t I just call you up?
I know you would be kind.
But I stay sat here talking to
the you you left behind.

Last edited by Matt Q; 07-22-2019 at 12:53 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 07-14-2019, 12:19 PM
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RCL RCL is offline
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Default Goodbye, Hello!

Matt, I like this song-like ditty. I think S2L2 would be sharper as (up- beat on could): I could call you, but won’t.

S3L3 just doesn’t sound right. Maybe: But I just sit here talking to ?
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  #3  
Unread 07-14-2019, 12:44 PM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
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I like this, Matt. Though I stumbled a bit as I read, the ending won me over.

Consider regularizing the rhythm of the last lines of each stanza.

In case it's helpful, I'll share a bit of my experience reading:

The title makes me think that there is a couple, probably a romantic couple, being addressed. The first line tells me the couple has split; it is the partner who was left who is being addressed.

The third line orients me more accurately. I really stumble on the rhythm of line 4. I don't know (on first read) what it means. (After completing the read, I'm still disappointed in L4. It fails to reach the high bar set by the other two stanza-ending lines.)

"I know you would be kind" feels awkwardly formal. A contraction might feel more natural.

This is work tinkering with. The ending is strong.
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  #4  
Unread 07-14-2019, 01:37 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hey Matt,

This is a clever little conceit that makes literal the idea of multiple selves: of our conceptions of people vs theirs, and of our own divided instincts. It's complex and simple at once. My main issues are metrical.


It’s eighteen months since your you left,
that’s time enough to grieve,
but somewhere stuck inside of me,
my you doesn't leave.


L4 is headless, but it's tempting to read it as dimeter, 'my YOU doesn't LEAVE', rather than 'MY you DOESn't LEAVE. You could just italicise 'my' to avoid this and further emphasise the contrast with 'your you' that I assume you want.


So here I am still missing you.
I could call you, but I won’t,
though it might help with moving on,
and I want that, and I don’t.


I love how the idea established in S1 means that we're encouraged to read simple expressions like L2 and 4 as if the two 'I's were literally different people. I wonder what 'And I don't' would be like as its own sentence?


Oh why don’t I just call you up?
I know you would be kind.
But I stay sat here talking to
the you you left behind.


I really like L2. It has a heartbreakingly pathetic quality to it, like John Merrick in The Elephant Man ('everybody has been so kind').

L3 seems awkward, in phrasing ('stay sat here') and metrically. My feeling was to want something like 'Instead I sit here talking to', but then I realised you perhaps wanted 'I' to be stressed because that works thematically, but I instinctively read it as starting with an anapaest ('but I STAY') Hmm. Tricky one.

Hope some of this helps/makes sense. I like this.
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  #5  
Unread 07-14-2019, 03:25 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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As usual, Matt, you put together a really interesting and different poem that's still rooted in something familiar. I think this poem is a success.

In the first stanza, I took it as suicide, particularly with the "grieving," though that can go any way theoretically. Going through the poem, though, it becomes clear it's a breakup. I wish it could keep the ambiguity, but the line that shatters it (which Mark quotes) is so good.

I think you need to get the trimeter lines tighter. Because of their length, they tolerate way more ambiguity.

I stumbled on:

my you doesn't leave.

I don't think there's an easy fix, and I think you can get away with it because of the contrast from earlier in the line "your you left." I don't think you should italicize.

I also stumbled on:

I could call you, but I won’t,

In fact, it could be read as tetrameter: I could CALL you BUT i WON'T.

Ralph's first suggestion here "I could call you, but won’t" works because there's no way to read it as anything other then trimeter, and it more or less forces the beat onto "could," which is best for the poem.

L4 of that stanza "and I want that, and I don’t" also offers a tet option. If you ended the previous line with a period and cut "and" you get a tighter line.
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  #6  
Unread 07-14-2019, 11:57 PM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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I enjoyed this too, Matt. You've gotten a bunch of good suggestions already, I'll just add that S3L1 should have "won't" instead of "don't," imo, echoing back to that first rhyme word in the previous stanza, which has more to do with will than with action, and will seems more the point here.
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  #7  
Unread 07-15-2019, 02:13 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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A metrical thought: for S1L4 you could have 'the you that's mine won't leave'.
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  #8  
Unread 07-15-2019, 08:50 AM
Jake Sheff Jake Sheff is offline
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Matt,

The conceit is perennially interesting, but I'm not sure this takes it new directions.

The title is somewhat uninspired. The duality notion within a singular person; "I contain multitudes"... Why not lend some specific qualities to these separate quanta? In what ways are the two different? They seem to share your affection. Could even be so bold as to name them a la Jekyll and Hyde.

The first stanza does this -- N is in possession of a You, while the second person is too (interest potential for puns in that comment...).

The first stanza is musical in a way my ear appreciates. The shorter fourth line is effective.

The content is almost too close to a country ballad than poetic ballad; I'm not sure it reaches very high?

I think it lacks individuality, is too generic to easily be recalled. There are so many possible ways you could color this in so it becomes a unique creature in the world. But right now, it's too vague, in my opinion.

I hope this helps.

Best,
Jake
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  #9  
Unread 07-16-2019, 03:41 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Ralph, Mark, Andrew S, Andrew F, Jake

Many thanks for the comments. I'm pleased this is mostly working for most of you. I've posted revisions that hopefully address most of the metrical points.

I'm getting into a bad habit of composing my more song-like metrical pieces with a tune in my head (this one in fact), which has the downside that a) I end up taking liberties with the metre that would work if the poem were sung, and b) I can assume the emotional tone of the music and the voice as given, though that's clearly not there for the reader.

Ralph, Mark,

I agree S3L3 could be improved: I have gone with "but I just sit here talking to" (as Ralph suggests), which I'd previously considered, but was concerned about because I've used 'just' in S3L1. But maybe I get away with it?

Ralph, Mark, Andrew S, Jake,

I can see that S1L4 is problematic in that you need to understand the sense of it to hear it as the headless line I intend. I don't really want to italicise 'my' -- it seems a little odd (to me) given I've used 'your you' (had I not, the italics might seem more justifiable). I can see opinion is divided on whether I get away with it or not (naturally, I'd like to agree with those who say I do!). Mark thanks for your suggestion; it certainly fixes the metrical issue, but I don't know if 'the you that's mine' has quite the same meaning/implication/feel (though I can't justify that why not, it may just take me some time to get used to it!). Although it likely makes no real difference I've change 'doesn't' to 'do not' thinking it makes it less likely that 'doesn't leave' will be read as an anapaest. I'm still thinking about this line.

Ralph, Andrew S.,

So, the meter of S2L2(&4), I guess want

i could CALL you, BUT i DON'T
and i WANT that, AND i DON'T

And I can see I may be pushing my luck with "i could call" as an anapest. I don't really want a strong emphasis on 'could'. I want "I could call you" as a straight statement of fact: "I am allowed to call". Were I to say "I could call you", emphasising 'could', then a) it's like he's actively thinking about out -- whereas he already knows he won't -- and b) you know what's coming after. You hear the 'but' coming. Does that make sense? Maybe it doesn't.

Anyway, "I could call you, but don't" seems a little clipped in the latter half: Plus I want the duality of the divided 'I', as Mark points out, to echo the duality of the 'you'. There's the I that wants and the I that doesn't want. The I that could/might and the I that won't. So having 'I' twice in both lines seems like a good idea. So I've tried this:

I could call, but I don't
I want that, and I don't

But maybe my revision may now be heard as dimeter "i could CALL, but i WON'T"? Hmm.

Mark,,

Thanks for giving your reading of this. It's really helpful to know it's coming across. Especially your take on how the 'I' duality/division in S2 works with the 'you' duality, your take on which I'm now going to claim was clearly and fully formed in my mind when I wrote it

Max,,

Likewise, I always find it useful to know how somethings being read.

Andrew F.,

I think I do want 'doesn't' leave rather than 'won't', since a) my you is "stuck inside of me". I'd considered 'will not/won't', but if you're stuck, not moving isn't a choice. and b) 'won't' implies that the N wants it to gone, but it's refusing. Given a) I guess I could say "cannot leave". But actually, I'd rather leave this open. The fact is it doesn't leave. The N doesn't necessarily know why.

Jake,

Reading your critique, I can't tell for sure if the conceit I'm hoping for is coming across to you. Fair enough if this isn't your cup of tea. I'm definitely not aiming for high poetry: it's more country-pop than jazz or classical.

Thanks again all,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 07-16-2019 at 03:44 AM.
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  #10  
Unread 07-17-2019, 07:03 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Hi Matt,

It's vulnerable and cerebral at the same time. Subtly so. It's also so simply expressed that there is an ache to it.

I think the punctuation hampers the first stanza. Perhaps a period to end L1? I'd also take away the comma to end L3. In L4: "will" for "does"?

Now for a bad idea that might also be a good idea: capitalize all the your you's. There are eight you's. Five of them are your you. I'd capitalize those. Bad idea?

It contains the voice/diction that you've honed so well. It may not be my favorite of yours, but if it were in a book of your poems I'd dog-ear it for the reasons I mentioned at the outset.
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