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  #1  
Unread 10-18-2020, 05:47 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is online now
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Revision

Cool Dark Night

In the light breeze of Autumn, I find the sting
of loneliness less like a scorpion’s
and more an absent friend’s, whose quips still cling
like burrs to jeans. This season outshines Spring
who shouts out always of eternal dawn
and, newborn and near-blind, stumbles with the fawn
she engenders only to abandon.
Autumn’s honestshe takes everything
.....in the light.
Tonight I’ve got a waxed-wick flickering:
mosquitoes gone, it’s for remembering.
What? Whatever. Flame goads thinking on,
and tempts the beetles and moths toward its mock sun
of paraffin. They also think there’s something
.....in the light.

***
Edits
L4: "barnacles" --> "burrs to jeans"; "to my brain. Forget the" --> "This season outshines"; deleted ":"
L5: 'she' --> 'who'; 'mutters' --> 'shouts out'
L7: 'helps engender' --> engenders
L8: em-dash replaces comma
L10: deleted "Plus,"



Cool Dark Night

In the light breeze of Autumn, I find the sting
of loneliness less like a scorpion’s
than a friendly dig that squirms at the pain it brings.
I like right now so much more than the Spring
since Spring pretends she’s nothing like a yawn—
she, newborn and near-blind, stumbles with the fawn
she helps engender only to abandon.
This season's honest, she takes everything
.....in the light.
Plus, tonight I’ve got a waxed-wick flickering:
mosquitoes gone, it’s for remembering.
What? Whatever. Flame goads thinking on,
and tempts the beetles and moths toward its mock sun
of paraffin. They also think there’s something
.....in the light.

***
L3 added "the"; it was in my draft but messed up, and Yves quoted it without the fix
L4: was I like this season so much more than Spring
L8: "Autumn's" --> "This season's"

Last edited by Andrew Szilvasy; 10-19-2020 at 04:51 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 10-18-2020, 05:52 PM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
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Hello Andrew,

The one thing that stands out to me: I really question whether the image-set of this poem needs a scorpion. But apart from one I think of the thematic and emotional and imagistic incongruency of the scorpion image, the lines around the image seem to me like the poem clearing its throat before it gets into its cadence, its movement: I find the sting/of loneliness less like a scorpion’s/than a friendly dig that squirms at pain it brings. Mostly it is the contruction "a friendly dig that squirms at pain it brings" which sounds to me as proper laboured in comparision to the rest of the poem's easy movement, easy cadence.

Apart from that, the poem just does not quite cohere for me, in the way the images relate, but it will take me longer to explicate why, after some more readings.

Yeah!
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  #3  
Unread 10-18-2020, 07:26 PM
Jason Ringler Jason Ringler is offline
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Hi Andrew,

Line 3 could be looked at. Than the friendly squirm of pain it digs, or, and more like a friendly dig.... Either way, using "the friendly" in place of "a friendly" seemed to sound better to my ear. Or, " then the friendly dig it squirms and the pain it brings".

Lines 8 on down are interesting. And that last line is really good! I like the feeling throughout, it has a fall spirit to it.
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  #4  
Unread 10-18-2020, 09:32 PM
Coleman Glenn Coleman Glenn is online now
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Hi Andrew,

This poem really captures the feeling of an autumn evening, when the breeze carries the hint of a sharp bite and everything is very crisp and clear. I can smell someone burning leaves nearby.

As I read it, the narrator is experiencing, reflecting on, and appreciating the honesty of a season that admits death as opposed a season that falsely promises eternal youth. (Does the “loneliness” in L2 suggest a recent loss?) The casual tone keeps it from falling into either melancholy or overwrought philosophizing, and the hint of bitterness in the narrator’s voice matches up well with the chill in the early autumn night.

A few specific notes:

Like Yves and Jason, I’m tripped up by line 3: I can’t tell who (or what) is doing the squirming and who (or what) is being stung. I wonder if a physical image here might work better than this analogous emotional one?

As I said, I think the casual tone is vital for making the poem work, but it slips a little too much into flat language for my taste in L4 (“I like...so much more). I’d rather hear the n describe their experience than tell me what they like or don’t like.

Not sure what I’m supposed to get from “nothing like a yawn” in L5 - the rest of the poem seems to have spring as hiding its true ominous nature, but a yawn to me says boring, not ominous.

From that point (L6) onward I think the poem really hits its stride and holds together well.
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  #5  
Unread 10-18-2020, 10:14 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is online now
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Hi everyone, thanks for your thoughts. I've given a revision to the first half. Obviously L3 was posing problems so I've tried to address that, and it led to other revisions as well.

I liked the idea of spring as a "yawn"--but I can't quite explain now what I was going for: cosmic meaninglessness, essentially. But that's not something that's likely to come through in that. So the revision went in a different direction there.

Thanks Yves: I'm not entirely sure I follow, but look forward to hearing what you think when you feel you can more adequately address why the poem doesn't cohere.

Thanks Jason. I reworked L3 entirely and made it something more concrete.

Coleman, thanks for your thoughts. I wanted something less physical to pair with the scorpion, but sort of split the difference here in a way that reshaped 3-5, which just happened to be where you had all your nits.
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  #6  
Unread 10-18-2020, 11:30 PM
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Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is online now
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Working from the revision (only compared L3 and surroundings, which are much improved; otherwise ignored the original)...

I like this a lot, Andrew. It's very evocative, especially once you get to the fifth line and onwards. I love the way L6 itself "stumbles with the fawn"—technically pentameter, but a thick one, full of anapests that drag rather than spring. Positively Popesque (Papish?).

A few thoughts on places that might stand further improvement:

L1-L4: I really like the images here, but can't help but feel they're disconnected from the rest of the poem. The absent friend matters, shaping how the poem's autumnal feeling is read. (I've got a poem thinking about the inappropriateness of spring to feelings of loss, and can't help but see this one as of a piece.) But, rich as the scorpion and barnacle images are intrinsically, they're from another world than the world of the poem. Or so it feels.

L5: "mutters" is a stock poetic word, and perhaps also semantically inappropriate. Spring, after all, is loud, and this is a contrast to the quieting of Autumn and the light breeze of this poem. Why is it "mutter[ing]" of eternal dawn?

L7: "she helps engender" -- is there a reason other than meter that you aren't just saying "she engenders"? (And I note that "she engenders only to abandon" is perfectly good pentameter.)

L10: (a) I scan this as hexameter; the rhyme elevates the "-ing" in flickering, and (b) I hate "plus" anyway. Just say "Tonight, I've got..."

L13: This line is metrically adventurous but I'm not sure it works—it ends up kinda baggy, and you get an awkward enjambment to boot. I'd suggest something like:
Flame goads thinking on,
tempts beetles, moths to its paraffin sun.
Point here is less the exact phrasing than the idea of economy, including the point that "paraffin sun" obviates the need for "mock". Of course this will require filling out L14 some other way, but you're more than up to that.

Edit: oh, also, title feels like a placeholder, not what you actually want to call this when all is said and done.
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Unread 10-18-2020, 11:40 PM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
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Hello Andrew,

About what I interpreted as the incoherence of the images, it is more succinct to say that I am unconvinced about the poet's progression from the rhyme "sting" to "Spring":

In the light breeze of Autumn, I find the sting
of loneliness less like a scorpionís
and more an absent friendís, whose quips still cling
like barnacles to my brain. Forget the Spring:

The standard expectation with the mention of a season in poems, is that if natural imagery is going to be used, than the imagery is normally aligned with the season. This alignment is there in the lines that follow about Spring. However, in the movement from the rhyme "sting" to "Spring", which parallels the movement from the words "Autumn" to "Spring, we have both a "scorpion" and a "barnacle" which strike me as the most convenient to hand images upon which to hang he end words "sting" and "cling". Also "scorpion" strikes me as another concesssion to the (half) rhyme chain that follows with "dawn", "fawn" "abandon", "on", "sun".

In summary, for me, the rhymes and the images are not yet to me, in perfect synergy, with the rhymes leading the images, and therefore to me what I interpret as the incoherence of the image-set as a whole.

Yeah!
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  #8  
Unread 10-19-2020, 06:01 AM
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Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
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Hi Andrew,

I like the revision in line 3, but I think it would be better if you end the sentence on "barnacles". Barnacles to the brain is a bit much, and starting a new sentence sooner would give you more room to work with "Spring".

The poem settles into it strength in the second half, not that the first needs to change with the revision. It's a good set-up.


Rick.
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Unread 10-19-2020, 08:02 AM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is online now
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Thanks again everyone!

Aaron: I've taken most of the revisions. They are, as they often are, precise and helpful. I'm still thinking on "paraffin sun." I see some value to it, but need to think about what way I might work around the other issues if I go that direction.

I don't know that you're wrong on the first four lines, but I don't know that it's a problem...I've taken Rick's suggestion and maybe now they're better tied together.

Yves: Thanks for coming back. I feel as though there are a bit of contradictory suggestions here: make the images more traditional, but the reason they don't work is partially that their stock. That might be oversimplifying, a bit, but if the images work it's because they're disjunctive.

The scorpion one, in context for instance, doesn't strike me as convenient because the "spring" images would suggest bees or something and certainly scorpions and "autumn" don't go together. Further, the grammar of the first sentence suggest that it is the "breeze" that stings, which would indeed be stock, but it is instead loneliness. I'm more on your side with "barnacles," though the initial idea of the brain as a ship seemed/seems compelling enough to me still. For better or worse, I do tend to embrace variegated rather than focused imagery. To be clear, though, I do appreciate the specificity of your concerns and am mulling them over.

Rick, I'm glad that you like it and I took your suggestion on "barnacles." The new half line is from an earlier revision, and I may revise it, though I liked then and now the "outshines," for obvious reasons. Thank you.
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  #10  
Unread 10-19-2020, 08:28 AM
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Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
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I like that, Andrew. Maybe take out the colon and go with ...outshines Spring / who shouts out always....

RM
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