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  #11  
Unread 08-31-2019, 11:36 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi Julie! — when I wrote this I wasn't thinking of any particular form. I keep wanting to write a ghazal but this wasn't that attempt and I didn't know what a kyrielle was (I do now because I looked it up!). I just wanted it to have a dreamlike, urban (or suburban) folk song feel to it and the repetitions just came seemed to come naturally where they wanted to.

I guessed you meant S5. I've changed that line, for good or ill. I like your choir story ha! Cheers!

Thanks Roger — I'm happy with that whiff.

Thank you Rick — Yes, I was in an out of fashion mood I think, even down to the initial caps which I very rarely do. Glad you like it.

Hey Matt — I scan it like you, but I can see the ambiguity and the objections so I've changed it. Hope you return.

Hi Andrew — I'm pleased you like it. HB is more a categorisation than a brand name. I was going for something deliberately generic and mundane that the characters would be familiar with from their school stationery, where all the pencils are marked HB (or 2B, 3B etc). I don't think they would recognise the smells of an individual wood like cedar.

https://pencils.com/pages/hb-graphite-grading-scale

Hi John - well, I've varied the rhyme scheme in S1 slightly, yes. I used 'mean' in its most common sense of 'cruel', which I hoped was authentically childlike, rather than drab or inane. Hmm. Glad you like lots of this, thanks.

Hi Susan — I'm glad you like the repetition. Hypnotic was how it felt to write, so I'm glad that works for you. I've changed that line, but I really wanted to keep 'bicycle' rather than 'bike'. I'm really averse to the word bike here, for some reason ha. So, there is a slight anapaestic thing there, but I hope in an appropriate place in the poem as the stanza hints at a sort of end to the hypnosis and the intrusion of harsh reality. *

I removed that comma. Good idea,thanks.

Hi again Andrew! — 'summer's' seemed to fit with the slightly old-fashioned tone to me. Shakespeare didn't compare anyone to a summer day after all. But anyway, yes, I think I'd be as likely to say it in my contemporary speech tbh ('what a lovely summer's day...'). Maybe it's an English thing, I'm not sure.


So, a couple of changes based on suggestions echoed by a few people. Varied the rhyme scheme of S1 and changed the 'bicycle' line for metrical reasons.

Thanks folks.

* Edit: re my comment to Susan. I've now got rid of the word 'bell' so the word 'bicycle' can hopefully be heard with a slight stress on the final syllable giving four beats and no anapaest (it was briefly 'A bicycle bell rings sharp and clear')
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  #12  
Unread 09-02-2019, 11:59 AM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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I think you need the bell, Mark. I like "A bicycle bell rings sharp and clear," which I hear as "a BI-cy-cle BELL RINGS SHARP and CLEAR."
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  #13  
Unread 09-02-2019, 12:31 PM
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Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
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I concur with Julie re the bell.
RM
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  #14  
Unread 09-02-2019, 01:19 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi Mark,

I like it, the mixture of child and nostalgic adult, and the song-like vibe, end-stopped lines, refrain and rhyme.

On the contested line:

since 'ring'/'ringing' is superfluous once you have that bicycle bell, how about:

a bicycle bell, sharp and clear

The scansion is similar to that which you originally had, but maybe the comma helps somehow? I don't know, I didn't hear the original problem.

'mud' and 'would' are the only imperfect rhymes here (though doubtless they rhyme for some people somewhere) and stick out a little for that.

I preferred 'We said we'd meet and run away' to what you've replaced it with, which to me, sounds a little awkwardly phrased, plus "stray" kind of takes out of the child-like voice, which "run away" doesn't. If you were to change one of the 'away' lines, I'd go with 'We tried to wish the world away', which I didn't like as much as the rest of that stanza, but for reasons I can't quite put my finger on (maybe a little too stock-phrase-y?).

In S3, the enjambment seems to break with the end-stopped, folk-song vibe you've got going on. Maybe a comma on the end of L2 and then "the snaking green"?

I'm not quite clear about the long walk home and the fear. They run away and then walk home together, fearing the consequences? Or the N walks home (away from Bracken close)? In the latter case, what does he fear? His daddy has a similar soul?

best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 09-02-2019 at 04:45 PM.
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  #15  
Unread 09-03-2019, 05:21 PM
Erik Olson Erik Olson is online now
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Mark,

This is an effective, good poem. I fancy that the list construction lends itself to an airy effect and of things in stasis, which strikes me as apt for evoking the dog days of summer when everything seems static in the sultry heat. My only nit is that the brand name HB on the pencils seems rather incidental than integral in contrast to the other details in the poem. Much enjoyed.

Best,

Erik
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  #16  
Unread 09-03-2019, 05:36 PM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Erik, you're not alone in thinking that HB is a brand name, but it's not. As Andrew explained to Andrew F. above,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark McDonnell View Post
HB is more a categorisation than a brand name. I was going for something deliberately generic and mundane that the characters would be familiar with from their school stationery, where all the pencils are marked HB (or 2B, 3B etc). I don't think they would recognise the smells of an individual wood like cedar.

https://pencils.com/pages/hb-graphite-grading-scale
HB is written on a lot of pencils, but isn't a brand name (like Ticonderoga or Blick). It's a softness rating. I think in the United States the emphasis is on the "No. 2" part of the "HB No. 2" rating, rather than the "HB" part. But answers on fill-in-the-bubble type tests at school might not be readable by the correction machine if students use pencils with any other softness rating than HB No. 2.

I think the inclusion of "HB" does a good job of communicating that the two principals of this drama are still school-aged.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 09-03-2019 at 05:39 PM.
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  #17  
Unread 09-03-2019, 05:57 PM
Erik Olson Erik Olson is online now
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Thanks for pointing that out, Julie. If HB in the UK be as No. 2 in the US, as Julie suggests, then that detail works well with me. After translation, I see the function of it. Never mind.

Cheers,
Erik

Last edited by Erik Olson; 09-03-2019 at 06:05 PM.
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  #18  
Unread 09-05-2019, 01:43 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi Julie and Rick - thanks for coming back. I've gone back to 'A bicycle bell rings sharp and clear'.

Erik - thanks, I'm pleased you like the poem. And thanks Julie for jumping in to defend/explain my pencil specificity!

Matt - Thanks for the useful crit, as ever. See above re: the 'bicycle' line. I see merit in all the different versions, including your new suggestion, and it's a little maddening. It'll be one of those which ends up a last second dice throw probably, just before I send this out, if I ever do.

'Wood' and 'mud' are a pretty good rhyme to my Lancastrian ear, so that's my only defence.

I've taken your advice on the 1st stanza: reinstated L3 and changed L2. Cheers. Hope it works. And the enjambment across that line in S3 is 'sprawl / All snaking green' now, which I quite like. It gives the line more integrity, I think, than starting with 'Of' and I like how it starts and ends with 'All'.

As to clarity at the end, well, I'm usually not averse to explaining what's going on in my poems but here I really want the reader to think and interpret how they like, and hope they will find pleasure in that mystery, that ambiguity. I hope (without sounding too hifalutin') that the mystery comes across as integral to the poem's lifeblood.

Cheers all. Little revision up.
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