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  #31  
Unread 09-17-2019, 03:59 PM
R. Nemo Hill's Avatar
R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is online now
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John,

If a poem of mine was as constantly revisable as this one seems to be, changing with almost every suggestion made, I would deem it not at all ready for publication or contest entry.

Nemo
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  #32  
Unread 09-18-2019, 02:46 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Good evening Matt, Anka, and Nemo,

And thank you for stopping by.
Matt: this piece has a lot of monosyllables. Given that, i think you're right to regret the loss of confirms and fashioned. NB I'm avoiding the word reveals since I have reveal in S2. I have, in consequence and after some thought, restored "confirms the god" and "But ... fashioned" - and given the relative tightness of the piece, other changes have required attention. First, I've got "the god" twice in S1. I've tried other words - "this/that" in particular - but have no fix as yet. I think the repetition may be OK, since the second time, it performs a slightly different grammatical function, which I think the mind picks up in context. Second, I don't quite see how I get from smoke rising to surmising Khnum's works may have perished. However, you as an attentive reader have no problem with that, and no-one's yet objected to it, so maybe I'm making this harder than it has to be. I do prefer fashioned to "shaped then," which is rather flat. Anyhow, that's where I'm at. Those are my only remaining concerns about the piece.
Anka: hi. Yes, this piece has been gradually evolving. To answer your questions. First, I don't know how much you know about pagan gods, but they are traditionally identified by their attributes. In Khnum's case, like the case of the Pharaoh with his double crown for Upper and Lower Egypt, the crown tells us he's not some random god, he is the demiurge who created all gods and all men. That's why I put it there. We're also led into the crown, if you look at the link I provided, by the discussion of the ram's horns on Khnum's head, naturally I think. Second, Khnum is old enough that the ram he in part is - to this day - has become extinct. I find this unusual and worth a mention - it is the genesis of the poem. Third, yes, I do repeat the opening idea twice. But I find it unexpected enough that it bears repeating, and since nobody else has objected to it yet - readers have instead tended to favor S1 - I think I'll keep it. Fourth, I'm uninterested in the colloquial sense of bull. If a reader finds it here, fair enough, but I don't think it's in keeping with the poem's tone. I myself mean bulls as timeless symbols of, well, sacrifice for one thing. It also happens that the next poem is "Sargon and the Holy," about the lamassu or winged bulls that guarded Sargon's palace in Khorsabad. So I like that. Fifth, here is a short link to the traditional heaven of ancient Egypt: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaru ; and here is another to Egypt's sky goddess Nut: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nut_(goddess)
It seems pretty clear, in short, that Egyptians would not find the concept of Heaven, as I use it, terribly alien. There remains the question of whether they would in fact offer burnt offerings to gods. Here are two sources on that topic: http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/offering.htm ; https://www.ucl.ac.uk/museums-static...dailycult.html
If you take a look, you will I think find that offering was fundamental to Egyptian ritual, and that burning offerings certainly had a role. So: yes, I could use a small h, but Heaven is a word I capitalize throughout this MS. and in general use. I don't feel that Egyptian practice compels me to use lowercase in this instance. Sixth, I could indeed use silt. However, I have river birds in the next line, and since Egypt notoriously has, in essence, one river running the length of it - the Nile - I feel that is all the hint an alert reader will need. If they happen to know or find out that Khnum rose up from beneath its First Cataract, so much the better. To conclude: thank you for engaging me in this review of some Egyptian data. I don't think, at present, you've given me reason to change a word, but you've certainly led me to think about the poem's various implications and resonances.
Nemo: welcome. i see you've ended up with a comment on this poem, and I appreciate it. You are quite right, the poem has much evolved since its posting last week. We have, i think, different views of the value of that process. I like my poem as it has evolved - indeed, that's why I have revised it here - and I'm quite happy opening my religion MS. on it, though again, I do appreciate your advice. I am sorry i don't comment on your poems more often, I certainly intend to do so when one catches my fancy.

Thank you all,
John

Update: mild revision posted.
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  #33  
Unread 09-18-2019, 07:57 AM
A. Sterling A. Sterling is offline
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Hi again, John

My concern with the crown is that the mere fact of Khnum wearing one doesn’t communicate much, as many Egyptian deities were portrayed with them. I feel like it needs to be more specific if it’s going to be there. Likewise with age – I would assume just from Khnum’s being an Egyptian god that he’s been around for a while.

And my concern with ‘Heaven’ is not with using it as a generic term for a pleasant afterlife realm but rather that the Egyptian version does not seem to have been located in the sky, and so the image of smoke rising to it doesn’t make much sense. The article you link to locates it “in the east.”
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  #34  
Unread 09-18-2019, 08:36 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Good morning Anka,

And thanks for stopping back. To address your points in reverse order:
Heaven. I have removed the word still, which I believe will solve the issue you note. I'd wanted to indicate continuity of sacrifice from Khnum to us (Julie's argument), and actually, I think the word persist in the previous line does just that, still was redundant. Moreover, your point that while Egyptians had a sky goddess (Nut), and had a heaven, the two are not contiguous, is quite true. So still has two reasons to have to go.
Second, the crown. I could write "this crown" to address your concern, but I find that heavy-handed on the page. I know authors like Virgil or Homer better than Egyptian sources, but Virgil for instance is quite comfortable saying "the such and such reveals this particular god," which at the end of the day is precisely my construction. *This* crown, which is specific to Khnum, confirms for the curious that they are looking at Egypt's demiurge. That's how they'll know. Further, you are quite right: all Egyptian gods are pretty old. But this one's age is underlined for us by the fact that the horns on his head are the only remaining trace of a species of sheep that became extinct millennia ago. It all comes down to taste, but I think "he's not young" to underline that point is warranted.
Bottom line: thank you for pushing me to think about these questions. Still in particular, from my perspective, was quite wrong and I am glad to have removed it.

Cheers,
John
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  #35  
Unread 09-18-2019, 10:36 AM
A. Sterling A. Sterling is offline
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I'm glad I was able to assist in some small way. Personally, I'd like to see more of a description of the statue, crown included - as you seem to have had in an earlier draft - but I think you'd have a different sort of poem at that point. Better to work towards making it a stellar example of the sort it is.
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  #36  
Unread 09-18-2019, 12:39 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Anka,

That is very generously put. Thank you. Yes, earlier versions of the piece had details of various sorts regarding the statue in particular, doing such things as stepping into the room - since having a statue take a step was a big moment in art history. But brevity is the soul of wit, as they say.

Cheers,
John
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