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  #1  
Unread 05-14-2019, 02:06 PM
E. Shaun Russell E. Shaun Russell is offline
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Default Earth

Earth

She chirps a cheery “hello”

that drops from lips to dirt,
to spring some sprigs of foliage
soon tamped by endless footfalls,
is covered then with concrete,
which lasts for generations
until the imperfect concrete,
trod by so many footfalls
is cracked by thriving foliage
through life-affirming dirt
to chirp a cheery “hello.”


L2: was "drips"
L4: was "tireless"
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  #2  
Unread 05-14-2019, 02:21 PM
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R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
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The idea of a sprig of Paulownia tomentosa coming up in a crack in concrete is accurate enough, but do you really want Paulownia tomentosa chirping cheerily in the middle of the passing lane?

Last edited by R. S. Gwynn; 05-14-2019 at 05:42 PM.
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  #3  
Unread 05-14-2019, 05:16 PM
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Ed Shacklee Ed Shacklee is offline
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Shaun,

My hat's off to you. I could never manage something like this, and I like how you managed it without me noticing till the very end.

That being said, although I'm partial to internal rhymes, I'm not overly fond of the phrase "that drips from lips to dirt," which in my perhaps way-too-literal head conjures more an image of someone drooling than someone speaking. Would Earth look down at dirt? Also, I feel there's a better word than "tireless" out there somewhere for line 4. They might be numberless or any number of other things, but why should the feet be tireless?

At any rate, those are small nits. Good work.


Best,

Ed
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Unread 05-15-2019, 06:55 AM
Sean Shinawill Sean Shinawill is offline
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It’s a tricky format, contrived to be sure but still well accomplished, drips from lips could be improved to convey the sense better.
Enjoyed reading
Jim
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Unread 05-15-2019, 03:11 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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Hi Shaun,

I like this very much.

I imagined that it’s a bird (perhaps a house sparrow or finch or some other seed-eating bird) that opens its mouth to sing and a Paulownia tomentosa (aka princess tree or empress tree) seed falls out. But the title (Earth) made me think at first that Earth is the thing that’s chirping (which of course is silly).

Question: can a bird’s trill or chirp drip from its lips? I guess birds have lips, though I normally think of a beak or a bill. But it’s actually the seed that drops (drips) from its beak to the dirt. It was a tiny bit puzzling when I first read it, though I got it on the second read. I do like the internal rhyme of drips/lips but, literally, it doesn’t make much sense. Poetic license is what you are doing, which I suppose can work if I pretend that a seed from a bird’s mouth can drip and that a bird’s beak is really a pair of lips. The image, though, is kind of strange.

Or is it a full-grown tree that "chirps a cheery hello" and drops "her" seed? Not quite sure, but the last line makes me think so. I guess the image of what or who is chirping is ambiguous. And then, at the end, the seedling is the thing that is chirping, which is sort of zany, but I could go along with it as a personification of a tree.

Actually, it must be the earth (actually the concrete) that's chirping, since it cracks to let the seedling sprout.

The form is an identical-rhyme chiasmus, which is not easy to do. I like that aspect. I also love the alliteration. The story of the seed and its development is easy to picture.

Martin

Last edited by Martin Elster; 05-15-2019 at 03:21 PM. Reason: Added some sentences.
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Unread 05-15-2019, 04:15 PM
E. Shaun Russell E. Shaun Russell is offline
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Thanks to all for your initial comments!

I've never been a die-hard environmentalist, but the idea of life persisting through hardship has been on my mind lately, which is why I wanted to create something in a circular form like this, with the center word being "generations." I'd hoped I could find a way to have it make equal sense when read from bottom to top as well as top to bottom, but that'll take a little more work, if I can do it...

Sam, Ed, Sean, and Martin -- all of you got the central conceit, of course, though I don't think my deeper intentions came out as effectively as I'd hoped.

The trope is that it is indeed the earth itself (or herself, if we're thinking in the usual "Mother Earth" sense) who basically calls seed-as-life into being. Life starts to grow on a footpath, is trampled over by many people, then the path is covered by a road with sidewalks, and the man-made concrete of the sidewalk is eventually pushed aside by life-as-tree. I'm (obviously) eschewing the literal for the figurative here, and it's deliberately a little twee...but whether or not this intended trope is effective, or is better left unexplicated, is up to you.

I've just made a couple of minor changes for now, but I'm open to more.
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Unread 05-15-2019, 07:01 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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Shaun, I did try reading it from bottom to top yesterday, but it didn’t really work. If you can make it work, that would be terrific. But I don’t think it’s necessary. I like the changes.

I see clearer now what the overall theme is: Life persisting through hardship (as you said). I don’t mind the figurative, though (as you also said) it’s ever-so-slightly schmaltzy — the chirping part I mean. But I like the alliteration of the ch sound.
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Unread 05-15-2019, 07:08 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi Shaun,

I think the mirror form works very well to with the content, the descent and the ascent. I like that the footfalls are both what tramps down the foliage and then what break down the concrete.

I don't know that it's wholly clear that it's the earth that chirps. At the beginning, the chirp "drops" to dirt, which seems to locate 'her' above the earth, and earth seems identifiable with dirt. Hence, like Martin, I'd wondered if it was a bird chirping.

EDIT: Rereading, I'm guessing that the cheery hello is rain, given "drips/drops". So maybe you're taking "Earth" to mean something like biosphere?

At the close it reads like the concrete, cracked by the new growth, chirps hello. Is that what you intend? Is the concrete now part of the earth? I also struggled a bit to parse the close. Maybe it's to parsed like this:

"the imperfect concrete ... is cracked by (thriving foliage through life-affirming dirt) to chirp a cheery “hello.”"

So it's "thriving foliage [passing] through life-affirming dirt" that cracks the concrete. But it still seems like a bit of an odd construction to me. I can also read that the "concrete ... is cracked (by life-affirming dirt) though life affirming dirt" so that the concrete is cracked through (the) dirt. And through can mean "by means of" as well of "moving though", which adds to the ambiguity.

I also wonder if the poem it this could be done with less abstract/telly modifiers: "endless" stuck out for me for some reason that I can't quite articulate. But I also wonder if there's a way to show "thriving" and "life-affirming", since they kind of hammer things home a bit.

best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 05-16-2019 at 06:11 AM.
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  #9  
Unread 05-16-2019, 04:36 AM
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Shaun,

I like the changes.

Best,

Ed
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Unread 05-16-2019, 05:01 AM
Sean Shinawill Sean Shinawill is offline
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Well if you’re going to keep lips (debateable in context) then drips
provides better internal resonance .imho.

Jim
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