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Unread 07-04-2020, 10:55 AM
Mary Meriam's Avatar
Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
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It's great, Matt, like a 12-line epic. When I reached the last line, I wondered what happens next, but on re-reading, I'm happy with what's here.
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Unread 07-04-2020, 02:38 PM
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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For me the motivation for your poem appears to operate on two levels. The first is as a straightforward poem with a Dadaist irony like a mustache on the Mona Lisa but in reverse, because the anomaly of the modern item is projected into the past, rather than a modern mustache on an old painting. I have to assume this face value reading is what you fundamentally intend. It’s humorous that way, and worth its ink.

The second imaginable motivation that occurs to me is that the shopping cart (Americans use that term) is a symbol of something you might want to bring out for someone formerly and still important to you, someone you might have written other poems about that you posted here, someone you enjoyed shopping with, or who perhaps had a personal shopping trolley as part of an apartment’s amenities. This poem would be a great way to remind that person of you and simultaneously amuse us outsiders with the practicality of those Saxons who were contemporary with a real Beowulf. (There’s a Wiglaf in the history of this leader as well as in Beowulf.)

I like it, either or both ways.
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Unread 07-06-2020, 04:28 PM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
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The ending is a fine close, a richly resonant ironic clear-cut image, the kind I might imagine ending a Monty Python sketch, and, yes, this has the feeling to me of a British comedy sketch.

My only quibble is about the lexical texture, in that I wonder if you might have the splash of the olden colour of "brook no argument" in each strophe in counterpoint to the running through orthographic texture of "Burgræd".

The poem is a good example of how to efficiently paint a world, by using common enough known reference points.
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Unread 07-09-2020, 05:29 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
Join Date: Aug 2016
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Another pleasure in a string of pleasurable poems you've workshopped lately. This one is, as Mary alludes, epic in its tone and subject and expertly told. It's cinematic. A pleasure.
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Unread 07-11-2020, 04:22 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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I echo the praise everyone else has given this--that final image an evocation of Odysseus/Aeneas.

The one wrong note, to me, is "brook." Mark flagged it as part of the larger phrase, and I think he's right to. I don't know if he thought the "self-importance of the phrase" stemmed from it seeming out of step with the voice in general (I think I'd agree) or, what my nit is, that the phrase feels too clever because we have "brook" and your Burgræd finds it in a, uh, brook...or at least a confluence of them. It just draws too much attention to itself for me with no real poetic upside.
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Unread 07-12-2020, 01:17 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
Join Date: May 2013
Location: England, UK
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Many thanks everyone for reading and commenting, and sorry to be so slow to reply. I've not had a chance to spend much time thinking about a revision, all the comments have been useful.


I tried replacing that line with an image -- of the wheels getting clogged, but couldn't seem to make it work. I'm hoping the line suggests this though.


Thanks for flagging the typo. I'm not sure why you think that the deer isn't an interesting image to end on. I tried it the other way round (ending on the king speaking), but I do prefer ending on an image. And I don't really want to put more weight on what the king says; making the poem perhaps seem like it's striving more for meaning than I intend to, if that makes sense.


On the sonics of 'deer', I tried a few other animal possibilities like "stag", "hog" and "boar", but nothing really grabbed me. I tried other animal possibilities ; "stag" has maybe better sonics with the 's' sounds, but seemed somehow to have other associations that perhaps confused things.


Ok, that's useful to know, and similar response to Cameron, perhaps. I hadn't seen it as punchline, more as just an image juxtaposing the old and the new -- and how the warriors would have suggested the mode of transport to each other.


I was definitely going surreal humour, and now you mention it, I see the Python link: shades of the Holy Grail.


I'd been reading Hill's Mercian Hymns when I wrote this, and I'm definitely borrowing his conceit: locating a Mercian king in the (small) town where I grew up and mixing old and new; Burgraed (not sure why Wikipedia doesn't also give the 'ae' spelling) was married about five miles from there from that town. The main supermarket has a car-park which is bordered on two sides by small rivers.


I did wonder about Anglo-Saxon metre after I'd written it. That might be another poem, though, with a different feel to it, but definitely something to play with.

Mary & Cally,

Thanks both! I'm pleased you liked it.


Thanks for the link to The Motel of Mysteries. Sounds like a good read.


Thanks, and that's an interesting reading.


Welcome to the Sphere. I'll give some thought to the consistency of voice/tone.


I didn't really notice the "brook" wordplay when I wrote it. It was there for the alliteration, and tone really. I wanted to suggest that the warriors tried to persuade him to leave it behind. I'll think on alternatives.



Thanks again everyone,


Last edited by Matt Q; 07-12-2020 at 01:48 PM.
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Unread 07-13-2020, 01:49 PM
Andrew Mandelbaum's Avatar
Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is offline
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This is a keeper for sure. Funny how the word some objected to was my favorite. I think brook does a great deal of work setting a tone of heirarchy from another time than this.
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