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  #11  
Unread 01-09-2020, 02:07 PM
Roger Welsh Roger Welsh is offline
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Matt,

I think titling it just "Washed Up" would focus it better, especially, given the figurative meaning of that term; the reader will learn soon enough that it's about this whale. The repetitions, the tone, and the insistent questioning draw me in. The frog story foreshadows the demise of the whale and underlines a burgeoning sense of the speaker's angst, which is so subtly and admirably developed as the questioning becomes more and more intense and desperate. As the behavior of the frog seems irrational to us, so it makes us complicit with the speaker--and the whale--through that parallel. I mean, that juxtaposition of the tiny frog in a saucepan and the huge whale in the great muddy river is, I would say, in the British sense, "brilliant."

The poem's scope of implication is broad and powerful. Much appreciated!
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  #12  
Unread 01-09-2020, 02:28 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is online now
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Get rid of the question thing, Matt. If you read this straight, descriptively, without the horseshit, it's much better. Imo
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  #13  
Unread 01-09-2020, 05:23 PM
Jake Barnes Jake Barnes is offline
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James,

That's so stupid. What crap! It changes the whole POV and undermines all the tension. Imo.
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  #14  
Unread 01-10-2020, 12:03 AM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is online now
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Don't be shy, Jake. Tell me how you really feel. Really, though, he might be right, Matt. I saw the questions as more of a device, and therefore an obstacle, but perhaps it's more essential to the poem than I originally thought. I do like the gist of this.
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  #15  
Unread 01-12-2020, 04:17 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Bill, Roger and James, & Jake

Many thanks for your comments on this.

Bill,

Thanks, it's useful to know how you hear the tone here. I was hoping it would come across that the whale's situation is a metaphor for the N's, so that the N is wondering disbelievingly at his own actions/inaction. (Though Andrew's reading of the whale as metaphor for the world works too). Did that come across for you? I'd hoped this would add an note of desperation/disbelief to the tone. But I may have buried the metaphor too deeply.

Roger,

Many thanks for coming back, and I'm pleased my intention here seems to come across, and I really like what you've drawn from the size disparity between the frog in the pan and the whale in the river.

James,

Thanks. As I said to Bill, I'm intending that the whale's situation is a metaphor for the N's own situation. Hence I want a genuine not-knowing on the part of the N, a genuine "how did I not notice? Why I am still not taking action to avoid this?". Does the metaphor come across? I was concerned that leaving it implicit might be too subtle.

Anyway, by losing the questions, do you mean something like this?

This whale in the Thames doesn’t taste
the slurry of land
behind the brine, doesn’t feel

the particulate of the city
stripping away the waterproofing
of its skin. Perhaps

this about gradient, BANNED POST
like the legend of the frog
in the saucepan of cold water

over a slow flame. But then
there are the ship-strikes,
and the barnacled keels

that rip through blubbered flesh.
And still the whale swims
upriver towards an ending

where the need
to breathe will suck it
from salt-tinged wetness

to a final stuckness
on the muddy edges
of a riverbank.

I don't know if works as well without the questions.

Jake,

Thanks for commenting. I think I'd agree that the questions are necessary because the N just doesn't know and can't really comprehend the whale's (and his own) actions/inaction here.

Thanks again all,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 01-12-2020 at 09:27 AM.
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  #16  
Unread 01-13-2020, 10:20 PM
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Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
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One of my favorites of yours, Matt. I read it when you first posted it and felt it was perfect. I'm not sure if behind/brine is alliteration overkill, slightly. Likewise, fable/frog. But I do feel sure you need the part that talks about this: "notice itself / boiling to death"
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  #17  
Unread 01-14-2020, 04:26 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Thanks Mary, I'm glad you liked it.

I think you're right on "behind" and "fable", and for the latter "legend" is a bit more unexpected.

Just wondering: Is the frog in a pan thing something you already knew about? I changed it largely it because John had said it was well-known to the point of cliche, which I hadn't been aware of. My recollection is that on the few the occasions I've mentioned it over the years, the people I was talking to hadn't heard of it.

thanks again,

Matt
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  #18  
Unread 01-14-2020, 08:44 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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x

Matt: I was thinking in more personal terms than global, but the latter works too. Interestingly enough, Bateson's next sentence after the one I quoted above is " Is the human species changing its own environment with slowly increasing pollution and rotting its mind with slowly deteriorating religion and education in such a saucepan?"


There is some misdirection going on in this and I like it. You do it often, I think. The poem seems to lead to a more global/macro condition but actually (according to you) is focused on the personal -- which then turns out to be, because of your skillful use of metaphor, universal.

But because of my/our preoccupation with manufactured global warming I am/we are conditioned to think immediately about the issue of our planet being slowly, surreptitiously boiled to death vs. seeing the metaphor work through the lens of a person, the speaker, reflecting on his own fate as he observes the whale's dilemma. Human condition succumbing to the natural world in a kind of disorienting circle of life.

Regardless of the debate over the frog metaphor and the use of questioning by the speaker, the poem unfolds with such vulnerability and continues to speculate through to the end (though not to the end of the whale's tale) is music.
x
x
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  #19  
Unread 01-14-2020, 03:28 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Thanks Jim, I'm glad you liked it. As I said, I hadn't considered the global/environmental reading, though whales tend to be associated with that, don't they. Me, I'm probably too caught up in myself

Mary, I've reposted the original. I think I probably do need explanatory line for those readers who don't know the fable. Alternatively, I need a new metaphor/analogy for the gradient, but that's eluded me so far.

Thanks again, both

-Matt
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