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  #1  
Unread 06-19-2019, 07:17 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Default For All of Death

For All of Death

For all of Death, for all his kidskin glove
is reaching toward us from the big Above,
I do resolve, like this is Near Year’s Eve,
to start all over. Henceforth I believe
in second chances. Hope is for the brave.

So spoke a dying man, no more a slave.

To catch the difference of this, conceive:
among the trees where grackles live to grieve
like victims of a disappointed love,
there is a fluttering and, whoosh, a dove-
excitement rising. Hope is for the brave.

That’s the advice my dying hero gave.

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 06-19-2019 at 07:28 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 06-19-2019, 10:18 PM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Hi Aaron, I like the rhyming and the use of the Yeatsian refrain in this, but the premise of the poem—hope despite (amorous) disappointment—seems to come out of nowhere. It’s not grounded in some detail about the N that makes it emotionally convincing. I am guessing that he implicitly compares himself to a dying man because of loss in love, and he is free because hope makes him free from that pain, but the state of dying seems exaggerated for a short lyric that doesn’t contextualize it. Or is this part of a longer poem or sequence?

On a more micro-level, wouldn’t the idiomatic phrase be “For all that death . . . is reaching toward us” etc., to mean “Despite the fact that”? And I don’t get why grackles live to grieve in trees. Apart from their color, what is mournful-like about them?

Interesting that “difference” is 3 syllables for you. I definitely slur it into 2, so had to strain to scan that line.

Anyway, overall this is not really working for me as it stands, for the reasons stated, apart from the sonics, which as usual are very nice.

I’ll be curious to see what your and others’ thoughts are on it.

Best,

Andrew
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  #3  
Unread 06-20-2019, 12:12 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
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Hi Aaron,

I too very much like the sonics, the relentless circling of the rhyme. I think I'd change resolve - the internal off-rhyme jars me a bit - and I also found the formula "for all of Death" odd.
I'm less bothered by the argument than Andrew. I think the disappointed love is metaphorical here and the hero is quite literally dying, probably young; the act of dying trumps the proposed relationship narrative. He faces Death much as the dying Gaul does. That's my take. I remain though puzzled as to where hope fits into this narrative, or second chances. Facing Death stoically involves doing so despite hope's absence and death's certainty. So color me curious.
Finally, I see a lot of grackles, and I like their unexpected appearance here. I'm fine with them grieving - they're black, after all - but I'd never compare them to doves. Perhaps lucus a non lucendo?

Cheers,
John
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Unread 06-20-2019, 02:26 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

This is pleasant. A couple of things:

I'm not sure the onomatopoeia of 'whoosh' works here. It's something of a trademark of yours, and often works well in your more frenzied narrative poems, but here it feels like an easy substitute for an actual image.

The last line — does the second stanza, or any of the poem, actually constitute 'advice'? It seems the N, the dying man, is making statements and resolutions for himself, not giving advice. Even to himself.
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  #5  
Unread 06-20-2019, 04:11 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Thank you, gentlemen.

I like the construction "for all of X" I am going to do Y, and I think it is necessary here because it can take a clause as well: "for all (that) blah does blah." No other construction would allow me to do that.

The alternative is not as striking:

In spite of Death, despite his kidskin glove
descending toward us from the big Above. . .

The dying man, whoever he is, resolves to be hopeful in spite of his imminent death (Why? For the afterlife?) and the inevitability of death for us all.

"difference" can be either two- or three-syllable, depending. We have so few poetic licenses left, why exclude that one as well?

Grackles strike me as broody dark birds and the "disappointed love" shows up in a simile, not as the actual reason why they grieve. If people find the pathetic fallacy too much, I would consider revising to "seem to grieve".

The avian contrast in the second stanza is set up as a "thought-experiment" by the verb "conceive"--imagine a tree in which there are broody grackles and fluttering doves that are about to take off in an exaltation.

"whoosh" is the take-off for the poem. It will either take readers along or it won't. I accept the risk.

That all that the dying man says constitutes "advice" is a surprise at the end--the reader then has to stop and think, "What exactly is the advice given?" I like that.

Best,

Aaron

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 06-20-2019 at 04:30 AM.
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Unread 06-20-2019, 04:25 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Aaron – 'advice' didn't strike me as a 'surprise', since the poem's message (have hope in the face of death) is a kind of advice. But, since it isn't actually worded as advice, it struck me more as just inaccurate word choice. It isn't surprising enough to make me think "What exactly is the advice given?" Could just be me.
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  #7  
Unread 06-20-2019, 04:35 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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If to you what the speaker says is a kind of advice, then "advice" is fine. If to you what the speaker says is not advice, then "advice" is a surprise. Either way, I'm covered.
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Unread 06-20-2019, 04:58 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Well, whether you feel covered or not, it still sounds wrong to me. What I meant was this:

1) Since what the speaker of the two main stanzas actually says isn't worded as advice, in that it isn't addressed to anyone in the imperative, 'That’s the advice my dying hero gave' felt a little off to me.

2) But, yes, there is a sense that the poem's overall message can be interpreted, or taken, by the reader as a kind of advice (have hope etc), so the word didn't come across as an interesting surprise either. Just as not quite the right word. 'Wisdom' or 'insight' maybe...


As I say, could just be me.
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  #9  
Unread 06-20-2019, 06:28 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
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Hi Aaron,

How about changing is here to comes? "there is a fluttering." Then the doves work for me, their appearance makes sense and "conceive" will have less work to do.
Other than that, I like the "For all ..." construction, I've just not seen it before to my knowledge. And hope still strikes me as atypical of bravery in the face of certain and imminent death; if you're hopeful then where's the bravery? Viz. the dying Gaul. I've not quite wrapped my head around that.
All the rest of your remarks make sense to me. For instance, Frost's "that has made all the difference," where the word difference clearly (to my ear) has three syllables (as it does when I speak).

Cheers,
John
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  #10  
Unread 06-20-2019, 03:30 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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John, thank you for commenting. Let's talk about the "thought experiment". What part exactly is not working for you?

conceive:

among the trees where grackles live to grieve
like victims of a disappointed love,

there is a fluttering
and, whoosh,
a dove-excitement rising.
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