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  #11  
Unread 05-24-2019, 06:24 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Mark, hi Nicholas,

Thanks for stopping back.
Hmm, interesting. It's hard for an author to know their own voice as well as others know it, which is one reason self-parodies tend to fail. It seems to me that second-guessing of the listener is a thing i do often; litotes OTOH is quite a bit more common in Classical literature than in modern vernaculars, and since "will surely disappear" is the active voice, I don't see that main verb as passive. My memory of the classics is that you will find things other than people given agency often enough, as here. In other words, i was going for a bit of a Greek feel in the passage, and those two details are in fact elements of that undertaking. It doesn't mean I've succeeded; but I wanted the speaker to sound both very much alive and also rather older than you might expect, not to say archaic. He is speaking in 2019, after all. It is, as Nicholas suggests, Silenus seen through a lens.

Cheers,
John

Update: Nicholas, I've found an alternative for the awkward "that" you pointed to. Not for "in the mix" yet, though.

Last edited by John Isbell; 05-24-2019 at 06:28 AM.
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  #12  
Unread 05-24-2019, 07:34 AM
Erik Olson Erik Olson is offline
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John,

I agree with Mark that your usual flat style could not be less apt to represent a besotted Bacchanalian demigod. The prosaic statements of fact are not helping you here either I am afraid. I am confused, is his intonation supposed to sound like a speech synthesizer and the content smack of a fun facts brochure? I ventured this only to illustrate some things I might consider cutting. If it helps
With torso bellied out, a round of laughs
comes easy as the stream from these carafes
or clustering grapes that dangle from my grip.
I come with sauntering steps (unmoored from care),
with ivy that will wreath his flowing hair,
with baskets to supply his feast, to sip
the floods of wine held holy by the god
with whom I galavant and lure the world.
As always, I cannot help but find this go-to manner of dry factual statements to be a huge impediment on what you could do. I wish I could be more enthusiastic about this. Enough from me.

Good luck,
Erik

Last edited by Erik Olson; 05-27-2019 at 04:46 AM.
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  #13  
Unread 05-24-2019, 07:52 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Good morning Erik,

I was in Portland not two weeks ago.
I don't think of Silenus as emotional, I think of him as drunken. But yes, I could imagine my poem more Dionysian or enthusiastic than it now is. That would of course be a different poem. As always, you've put work into your comment - witness your usual rhyme - and as always, i appreciate that work. Yours too would be a different direction to take the poem in, though if we're discussing drunken Greek enthusiasm, I'm not sure that's best captured in rhyme. The lack of enthusiasm you observe I'll treat as a technical term - Silenus is an enthusiast - since I had a lot of fun in writing this and I think some of that comes through for Classicists, as Aaron P's reaction suggests. I can't speak for non-Classicists I'm afraid.

Cheers, and thanks for the nudge,
John

Update: I've cut a self-referential line from S1, and the litotes. Thanks Mark and Erik for your reactions, which provided the impetus here. I've also restored the row of asterisks to separate the two stanzas/poems.

Last edited by John Isbell; 05-24-2019 at 09:59 AM.
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  #14  
Unread 05-24-2019, 04:49 PM
Erik Olson Erik Olson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Isbell View Post
Good morning Erik,
I was in Portland not two weeks ago.
Go figure! Let me know next time around, would ya? I would be more than happy to avail the opportunity to chat in the sphere of Portland.

An observation has just now occurred to me which might be helpful to our purposes or so I reckon. I noticed that much of the blame for the dry prosaic quality I find so fraught lies with declarative sentences (e.g., ‘My gait is light... I am not disinclined to dancing... it is holy to... ’). Sentences of this kind relay some bit of information or other. They tell us what this and what that is specifically; in short, they dictate what to think. It will help any writer of poetry to be wary of letting such predominate at least, or I will eat my hat. I venture that is a safe bet. I failed to mention that I fancy your opening several sentences, which, as it happens, contrast with the declarative ones with their more colorful verbs than just to-be: ‘My torso bellies out to hold the gut / My laugh comes easy, and a cup of wine.’ My laugh comes easy is the right detail to set up the character and uses le mot juste for it.

Your poem put me in mind of the Homeric Hymns. Shelley has translated some for you and me who cannot read ancient Greek. As a potential source of inspiration? You tell me.

Cheers,

Erik

Last edited by Erik Olson; 05-24-2019 at 09:32 PM.
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  #15  
Unread 05-27-2019, 01:14 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Erik,

Sorry I just got back to you - I was in Nashville for a tournament all weekend. I appreciate your Portland invite - my mom is buried there - and your thought about declarative sentences. Good advice, and I would hate for you to eat your hat! Though there is a movie called Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe in which he does just that. Glad you liked the opening.
Thanks also for the Homeric Hymns. I look forward to exploring them - Iím sitting up in a Nashville hotel room just now - but will likely not add material to this MS., which opens with a short section on paganism, including this piece.

Cheers,
John
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