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  #21  
Unread 09-10-2019, 02:58 PM
Erik Olson Erik Olson is offline
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If it were my poem, it would annoy me too if folks read masturbation where I intended no such thing. For the record, I did not read it that way before Walter's comment, and even after it, only could not deny the possibility of reading it thus. While I am here, I might as well also mention that it seems I failed to make the crits of my crits or my points of praise emphatic enough. In any case, I like the poem.
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  #22  
Unread 09-10-2019, 05:53 PM
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R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is offline
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Precisely, Matt.

But, Julie, it's implicit, that "it" after touch. It's repeated ad infinitum in the stanza before, where it has already been identified as "a snapshot in ivory of travel and of trade". I just don't see any problem.

Annie, that works!

Jim, years ago I sat reading that Coleridge tome on an airplane on my way home after four months in Southeast Asia. I never picked it up again after the plane arrived and it's gone clear out of my head now (like so much else), but I was quite impressed at the time. It's an interesting formulation you've constructed, but I must repeat, there is no masturbation in the poem, so it may serve an illusory purpose ultimately.

I'll consider dropping the quotation marks, but they seem to me to supply a that's-what-they-told-me or so-they-said tone.

I heard you and hear you, Erik. Thanks.

*

There is a bit from one of Rilke's later French poems that I am going to use as an epigraph for the whole series of Ordinary Objects poems.

Toward what fated oblivion
are things helping
one another? Does the vague joy of being matter
seize them again, returning them to the blind mother
who touches and hardly reproaches them
for having suffered human thought?

..............................--Rainer Maria Rilke
..............................(trans, A Poulin Jr.)


Nemo
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  #23  
Unread 09-11-2019, 09:32 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi Nemo,

You’ve said a couple of times recently, and your recent posts bear this out, that your poetic instincts are moving toward the minimal. I kind of hope this is a recently written poem, because as much as I like those pieces it’s wonderful to see this delicate but expansive flow of words from you again. I love this poem.

It evokes the imaginative world seen through the “child’s wild eye” brilliantly, particularly in S3. It immediately sent me back to toy soldiers, dinosaurs, castles – gazing at them from low and unusual angles with my cheek on the bedroom carpet, so they were huge deep-focus vistas. They absolutely came alive. The poem gets that. In fact, rediscovering, or maintaining, that “wonderstruck” eye is the key to the ending. The last sentence, “Beneath time’s crust, / eye to former eye, I set to sea” has a sense of girding the loins for work, almost. What once came naturally now takes work, because the adult eye sees “those forbidden things” as merely “those imported things” and “the bones of kings” become the more uncomfortable “illicit tusk”. But it’s necessary work. That you’re using a pencil is nice, too.

So much to like here, really. I love how the metre becomes anapaestically over-excited at the final line of S1 as the child gives in to temptation and raises the ship to ‘stare right through its middle’, before the adult voice blares in.

I didn’t see the ambiguity in these lines


I feared it
might tip them from their tiny flights of stairs
and wash them, voiceless, unprepared
to what was once more just a waveless floor.
The wreck replaced, I offered prayers,
and pocketing smaller pieces, swam for shore.


I read it that the child carefully put the thing back, unbroken, where it was displayed and that the ‘smaller pieces’ were perhaps other little trinkets kept on the same display shelf or in the same room: shells or something maybe, that wouldn’t be missed as much. It seemed to fit with the 'Boy’s Own' piratical thing: the adventurer misses out on the main treasure haul, but manages to snatch a few doubloons as he flees. (Edit: Hmm. But then why is it a 'wreck' here. I'd pictured a working ship...)

I only have one tiny nit. This line:


Adventure involved such betrayals of trust—


I know the word ‘such’ is being used in its sense of ‘the kind previously mentioned’ (betrayals of trust such as touching forbidden things). But even though I know this, I keep wanting to read ‘such’ as meaning ‘to a great degree’ (that is such a betrayal of trust). It throws me a little.
Would a change like “Adventure always involved betrayals of trust” work, or even “involves” in present tense which seems to work nicely with the next lines:


Adventure always involves betrayals of trust—
the rebel hand outstretched towards the unknown,
things near, things dear, all overthrown


or “must involve” maybe? Or you may well not see a problem. Nobody else has mentioned it (I don’t think)

From the opening, the poem began to remind me of one of yours from a while back, about a picture, or cameo locket of female family members. I think? Forgive me if I’ve got that wrong, it’s blurry in my memory. Anyway, maybe that kept my mind pure of any 'subtext'.
To paraphrase Brian’s mum in The Life of Brian (“there’s no messiah in here! There’s a mess alright, but no messiah!): there are masts here, but no masturbation.

Cheers

Mark
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  #24  
Unread 09-11-2019, 10:30 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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FWIW, I'd read "smaller pieces" the same way as Mark.
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  #25  
Unread 09-11-2019, 11:55 AM
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R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is offline
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It is a recent poem, Mark, though one from a series I began awhile back—a series of poems that call for the sort of description that conjures each specific thing, so they tend to get wordier. And anyway, my mood changes from week to week. Really, I think part of the motivation for the more minimal pieces of late is that I find it harder to write; and rather than fight that difficulty, I simply surrender to it and navigate language accordingly.

Those lines about the wreck and the smaller pieces are ambiguous, as I explained to Julie, because I couldn't clearly recall what had done the damage to the 'junk'. So I made it somewhat hypothetical, in keeping with the child's flights of imagination. Your reading (and yours, Matt) is fine with me, as my own lack of clarity there invites divergent readings. Such readings (and those like Annie's) would only upset me if they resulted in a substantial change in the intent of the poem as a whole. But these reading don't seem to narrow the implications, or wholly divert them; they simply complicate and expand them without contradicting my own thoughts while composing. Whereas, the masturbation angle, well, that seemed more of a red herring, and so it grated on me a bit (although Jim seemed able to tie that one in too).

As for the word such, I think it ultimately carries both of your meanings. Ideally I wanted the word just before such, "just such betrayals of trust", but the meter forbade it. In my reading aloud, I can give the line the precise emphasis I want. But given your dual reading, I now think it works as-is on the page.

Yeah, that poem about the photo was one of the series.
I've posted others up here as well.

Nemo
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  #26  
Unread 09-11-2019, 12:54 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Yes, looking at it again both readings of 'such' do work there. Forsaking home and hearth, nearest and dearest for adventure. Such betrayal. No nits, then! Ha.
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  #27  
Unread 09-19-2019, 10:06 PM
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Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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Nemo,
I've been away a while, but I have to say that I love this. I haven't read the other crits, but it is such a strong series of images, so expertly linked, the child's wonder at the heirloom, his guilt at dropping it and trying to hide the damage, and then the man, years later, cleaning it and seeing his own child's vision of the boat carved out of ivory. I love the double meaning of "junk", the unsentimental affection for the past, the layers of time and space.

Sorry to gush.

I guess I'll go read at least your comments.

Thanks for the delight,
Martin
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  #28  
Unread 09-19-2019, 10:12 PM
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Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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All right, I have a mini-nit--"guileless" seems too expected, perhaps just filler.
Is there an alternative?

Thanks again,

Martin
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  #29  
Unread 09-20-2019, 12:39 PM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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I never was able here to make “masturbation” work as an explanatory lens. It does remind me a lot of the last part of Yeats’ “Lapis Lazuli,” which was dedicated to Harry Clifton, a notorious homosexual British wastrel peer, who gave an expensive carving to Yeats that is described in Yeats’ poem. Photos of the carving are available in some books. Here’s a link to the entire poem. I’ve pasted to relevant portion.

Two Chinamen, behind them a third,
Are carved in Lapis Lazuli,
Over them flies a long-legged bird
A symbol of longevity;
The third, doubtless a serving-man,
Carries a musical instrument.

Every discolouration of the stone,
Every accidental crack or dent
Seems a water-course or an avalanche,
Or lofty slope where it still snows
Though doubtless plum or cherry-branch
Sweetens the little half-way house
Those Chinamen climb towards, and I
Delight to imagine them seated there;
There, on the mountain and the sky,
On all the tragic scene they stare.
One asks for mournful melodies;
Accomplished fingers begin to play.
Their eyes mid many wrinkles, their eyes,
Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay.
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  #30  
Unread 09-20-2019, 05:40 PM
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R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is offline
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Boy, things sure are slow here that this one rises to the top of the almost vacant queue. Thanks Martin--I guess guileless is a bit expected, though the alliteration is in its favor--I will review. Allen, there is no child's eye in the Yeats, that's a big difference.

Nemo
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