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  #11  
Unread 05-14-2019, 05:59 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is online now
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John,

No need to say it. The pushback is necessary and important.

Thanks!
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  #12  
Unread 05-17-2019, 04:49 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Hi Andrew,

I really like this. You definitely did nail the close. On rereading, I thought it was made even better by the way it connects to S2's "killing Time with hope": time is killed (after a fashion anyway) in the timelessness moment of the emphemeral that has no concern for its impermanance, and no desire for an outcome.

I'm with Mary in thinking that it might worth looking at the penultimate stanza to see if there's a way to reduce/avoid the abstraction and incorporate some imagery. If I were being really picky, I'd wonder if he imagines the feeling, or feels it? He can imagine admiring cherry blossoms with no thought of their fading, but I'd think the feeling he feels as a result would be felt rather than imagined, if that makes sense?

On John's point, I was momentarily wrong-footed by the tenses in S1&2. I do think it's important to show that time has passed between S1&2. The present tense though seems like it would get in the way of that. Or you'd have two 'presents' which would be odd. Past perfect would technically be the correct tense for S1, I think, but "had begun" is potentially a bit clunky/prosey. So, hmm ...

A few very minor nits -- or possibly just stylistic prejudices on my part.

In S7, I'd consider "she" to replace "she's". It has a slightly more formal feel, which seems more in keeping with the voice.

Behind the silk a shadow surges
.....which moves like Lady Li:

I'd either put a comma after 'surges', or use 'that'. The former implies two separate but connected pieces of information (A shadow emerges. It moves like Lady Li). The latter if how it moves is essential to the meaning -- in which case 'that' is better / more formal in US English. That's my understanding anyway.

Something about the enjambment here bothers me slightly.

The undulations of the darkness seem
.....one with the drapery,

Maybe in part because it repeats the pattern of the previous S, breaking on the verb. Maybe because it seems a little odd to separate "seem" from "one". And if I pause slightly after 'seem' what follows seems a little anticlimactic somehow, if that makes sense? 'seem' also doesn't seem the strongest word to break on (and hence emphasise). I guess you could break on "darkness" to maybe bring out a double meaning of 'darkness' (his grief). Or if you broke on "one" the first line would have a slight meaning shift as you progress to the second line (the undulations seem one). But maybe I'm overthinking this.

best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 05-17-2019 at 11:09 AM.
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  #13  
Unread 05-17-2019, 09:21 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is online now
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Andrew, I enjoyed this very much.

I would suggest
1.) cutting "that" in line 2 (unnecessary)
2.) making the poem formally consistent (yes, I know this is the free-verse forum) by going for accentual stanzas of five- and three-stress lines. Right now the only the lines outside of that form are:

Behind the silk a shadow surges (4)

and he sees in it too the Silver Stream (4)

of Death’s domain? (2)

Best,

Aaron
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  #14  
Unread 05-18-2019, 08:49 AM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is online now
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Matt and Aaron,

Thanks for your comments. I'm glad you both like the poem, and the comments are helping me to refine it enough to hopefully send it out soon.

I tried to address each of them in the revision.

Matt

The penultimate stanza has given me trouble since Mary rightly critted it. I was okay with leaving it until you noted the logical problem inherent in it. I fixed the logical problem, though I'm not sure I made it better poetically. I also changed pronoun/tenses in the final stanza to match, though there's no reason I couldn't go back if that was a mistake.

On the tense, you point out the fix I tried to make and the reason I avoided it. I see your (and John's) point, but I can't think of a fix that doesn't make things worse and I guess I don't think it's enough of a problem to undo the whole structure.

I took your other suggestions ('that' for 'which' and 'she' for 'she's') as they struck me as excellent. I'm trying out ending the other stanza with "one," though I may go back.

Aaron

You're right on both counts. I deleted 'that' in L2.

And, really, the poem is sort of free verse in name only--the pent/tri rhythm developed in the revision of an earlier free verse draft and those lines were vestiges I couldn't quite work--though I left and continue to leave 'of Death's domain?' since I think that has resonance being a beat short. But that resonance needs to be earned.

I had read "and he sees in it too the Silver Stream" as five beats, so I spent time thinking about why it might not come across as such. I think the slight revision is a clear improvement while also making it more clearly 5 beats.

I'm a little less sold on my fix for "Behind the silk a shadow surges." I'm probably going to tinker with that line, but it was obviously 4.
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  #15  
Unread 05-18-2019, 03:41 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Hi Andrew,

Yes, I don't think the tense issue is a massive deal. I think maybe if you tie the announcement to the event (rather than have the announcement be the event) you might get round it. Does: "When the festivities began, Shaoweng announced ... Now, Emporer Wu" resolve the tense issue at least somewhat? I think it might do.

With L2 of the penultimate "that moment when" remains abstract, and it is arguably superfluous. It's not too much different to say:

How can the king imagine anything
but standing among April cherry blossoms
.....that have no thought of fruit?

So, maybe you could use line to add some concrete detail to the scene. Here's a bad example:

How can the king imagine anything
... but the caress of a spring breeze

as you stand among April cherry blossoms
.....that have no thought of fruit?

though you already have April to denote spring, spring seems apposite for life, rebirth, youth. A breeze seems something, if not ephemeral, but ungraspable -- something you can't hold onto, and also, in a way, it's also change/movement (kind of like shadows, I guess). I dunno, it could be a light rain, or "the moment before sunset" (maybe too cliche) or something else.

best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 05-18-2019 at 03:54 PM.
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  #16  
Unread 05-18-2019, 03:55 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is online now
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Matt,

You're right that the revision merely fixed a logical problem. Also, it's superfluous.

What about:

How can the king imagine anything
but the naked sun----EDIT: maybe sky?

as you stand among the April cherry blossoms
that have no thought of fruit?
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