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Old 06-25-2018, 01:31 PM
Edward Zuk's Avatar
Edward Zuk Edward Zuk is offline
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Surrey, Canada
Posts: 641

Hi John,

I hope you wonít mind another comment. I like thisóitís subtle and the slight archaisms create the voice of an older man taking stock of his life. The poetic echoes suggest a poet acknowledging and taking stock of his influences.

I donít like the present ordering of the stanzas, though: it seems like the conclusion comes at the beginning, which doesnít let the poem build. I hope you wonít mind my presenting a possible reordering with some fussing about typos and adding / taking out punctuation:

I am a blind man, sniffing at the air.
I hear the wild dogs snuffling as I pass.
The hurrying people do not care to care.
I hear them in the rustllng of the grass[.]

The inconsistencies just grow and grow.
I have the understanding of a child[ ]
who listens to the croaking of a crow[ ]
Perched on a branch, above the forest wild.

Where has it gone, the radiance and the laughter?
Where have they gone[,] the coruscating years?
It's little that I have, but what comes after?
I am a prey to nameless hopes and fears.

Nothing, or very little, do I know
Of time, of earth, and of oblivion.
[They] flicker past me, like a picture show
Of ladies in a silk pavilion.
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Old 06-25-2018, 04:01 PM
Perry James Perry James is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 91

Edward's re-ordering of the stanzas really helps the poem. It moves the stanza with the grandest language to the end, where it belongs. I realize that the problem I was having with the poem before was that it opened with grand-sounding language, thereby sounding grandiloquent right from the start, before you made your points. Grand language sounds more appropriate, and less pretentious, in a poem's conclusion. Ending the poem with the "ladies in a silk pavilion" image is also very lyrical and impressive.

Again, I'm sorry to come across as so critical, but using grandiloquent language is a writing defect of my own, and I saw myself in your poem.
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Old 06-25-2018, 05:26 PM
Erik Olson Erik Olson is offline
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 1,703

I would consider the diction of this poem literary but not archaic, because, excepting the inversions ‘forest wild’ and ‘do I know,’ the words and locutions do not fall outside the bounds of common use in prose writing. The lexicon seems drawn from philosophy and literature ‘time’, ‘earth,’ ‘oblivion’, which while distinct from colloquial is not therefore archaic. In everyday speech, we might not say ‘oblivion,’ insofar as metaphysics is not a common topic of conversation outside those involving philosophical inquiries; a word may be common enough but in certain contexts where it is more useful and pertinent. Here, there is certainly appeal to the practice of past masters and the traditional dialect of literature, whose graces it hones as Yeats and countless other poets.
The main issue, I believe, is rather that the poem condescends to illuminate the mysteries of the blind condition; yet, for all its pomp of diction, only to deliver a gloss without insight and claims that ring hollow. The man in his state is denied all ‘radiance and laughter,’ and all but condemned to walk the earth the ‘prey to nameless hopes and fears,’ and degraded to the level of ‘understanding of a child’ from that of an adult with its concomitant dignity. It is as if, writing on the deaf, my depiction reduced their actual pains to a life of interminable woe and privation of all joy.


Last edited by Erik Olson; 06-25-2018 at 09:17 PM.
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