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Unread 01-17-2021, 12:45 PM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Default Beleaguered in Upper Lazio

Removed for cleaning

Last edited by Andrew Frisardi; 01-31-2021 at 09:51 AM.
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Unread 01-17-2021, 12:47 PM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Some of you might remember this poem, since it's a revision.

Last edited by Andrew Frisardi; 01-17-2021 at 12:50 PM.
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Unread 01-17-2021, 11:23 PM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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I shall start this off by saying that so far upper Lazio is one of my favorite regions in continental Italy, along with Lake Garda and the Autostrada to Bari. There are many others of course. Vice Versa on the train route to Pompeii also has great charm. The Appian Way goes south, and an old restaurant on it is terrific too.

Poem-wise, I have no complaints right now, and will wait for others to declare theirs. As I still live in two worlds at once, this overwhelms me with thoughts of the Gracchi. A nice read! As I said, I shall wait and maybe return, once I can get a more up-to-date perspective. Someone complained to me that Italy is a museum; to me, itís one of my most favorite fragrant kaleidoscopes.

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Unread 01-18-2021, 01:19 PM
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Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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To me, the ending is a good punch. I crave for a conclusion, but I guess the chaos without one is the point.

"talk shows detonate a bomb
of blame that shudders down the motorway."

That was a freaking awesome line. Freaking awesome.
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Unread 01-18-2021, 03:20 PM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Location: San Diego, CA, USA
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Hi, Andrew!

I missed this the first time, so my eyes are fresh, if that matters.

In S1 and S3, I like the simultaneous contrast and parallel between the high, gray clouds on the move and the milling crowds (literal and figurative) beneath them (also literally and figuratively).

I've never seen the phrase Pax Romana uncapitalized. That seems obligatory to me in S2.

I love this:

Candidate-vandals, having seized the Quirinal’s
pomp, graffiti voting booths like walls of urinals.
I've been translating some !-filled poems from the 19th century lately, so I'm hyper-aware that exclamation marks rub some contemporary readers of English the wrong way. I think I'd prefer the first two lines of S4 without the !

Also, at "Lightning bolts are charging" I get an image of a row of them plugged into a multi-outlet surge protector, like a row of cordless vacuum cleaners. Not sure what, if anything, you can do about that, but I thought I'd mention it.

I'm not sure to whom or what "Many are called, the last will be the first / to drown" refers, although I catch Matthew 20:16, and of course the notion of Noah's ark saving only a few, and perhaps some reference to immigrants being latecomers who should suffer consequences before native-born citizens.

Is Romulus "old and vatic," or is the River Tiber?

Does "with pairs from every species, almost democratic" refer to a political coalition composed of strange bedfellows? I am profoundly ignorant of current Italian politics, although authoritarianism in support of nationalism seem globally pandemic just now.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 01-18-2021 at 03:28 PM.
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Unread 01-19-2021, 01:12 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Location: Lazio, Italy
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Allen, Daniel, and Julie, thank you for stopping by. I’ve made a few small revisions. One thing I’m trying out is adding asterisks between stanzas, since the movement from one stanza to the next might less continuous than the white space between them suggests.

What do you think? Thumbs up or thumbs down on the asterisks?

I also added the date and place at the end, since current events are important to the poem's theme.

Allen, I agree with your feeling about Upper Lazio: it is a beautiful and interesting place. It’s not high on the tourist agenda either, which is nice.

Daniel, I’m glad you like the ending’s punch, inconclusive as it is. Also the line about the bomb of blame shuddering. Glad you enjoyed it.

Julie, thanks for your detailed reading. I’ve capitalized “Pax Romana,” and changed the exclamation points to periods. Also, I added a comma near the end to clarify that Romulus is the old and vatic one, not the Tiber.

For “lightning bolts are charging,” now that you mention it, I see the double-meaning. I think I like that about it, though I originally was thinking about lightning bolts like charging like horses or bulls. The allusion to Matthew is not specifically about the immigrants, though they would be part of “the last.” I have in mind there any marginalized group, in the context of the populist rhetoric and authoritarianism or nationalism, which, yes, really is a pandemic. In my own mind, I almost can’t separate the pandemic itself from Trumpism and the far right in Europe and elsewhere, though of course there is no causal connection.

The pairs at the end are meant to extend the ark motif, as well as being tongue-in-cheek about “democratic,” since the ark is all-inclusive. I hadn’t thought of the possible allegorical meaning, but that’s an interesting thought.



Last edited by Andrew Frisardi; 01-19-2021 at 01:26 AM.
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Unread 01-19-2021, 06:52 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Hi Andrew, The current that runs through this is unabashedly current. It has a Yeatsian vibe to it in the very best way. And a bit of Wordsworth, too. But it has a strong vein of esotericism in it that makes it distinctly yours. But, I think the poem could use a killer line to begin (or to end) — though as Daniel pointed out there are some great lines already there. The one that I like best is "graffiti voting booths like walls of urinals." I just question whether or not this gels/comes to a point like I think poems of this nature should (I'm thinking of Yeats' "The Second Coming" and Wordsworth's "The World Is Too Much With Us")

It saddens me to know that the political/social climate in Italy is in lock-step with what we are experiencing here in the States — although I do know of the rise of the far-right in Germany, England, Scandinavia. Something is coming...
I like the biblical connotations in the final stanza. It may well be that we must huddle together and ride out the storm.

I think I like the asterisks but think they should be left-justified vs. centered/indented.

I think you could improve on the title but don't have any specific suggestions. The word "Lament" keeps coming to mind, though...

Stay well in the beauty that is Italy.


Back to add that although I like the biblical allegory in the final stanza, it may fall apart logically. But logic and imagination swim in different oceans : ) A good story can sometimes defy logic and still be effective.


Last edited by Jim Moonan; 01-19-2021 at 09:01 AM.
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Unread 01-19-2021, 08:36 AM
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Jane Crowson Jane Crowson is offline
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: UK
Posts: 207

Hi Andrew,

I’ve read this a few times now, and it works very well for me. The sense of approaching storm threads through and builds up beautifully (I enjoy how it is still ‘about to burst’ at the end - the reader left waiting for the feel of rain rather than the storm breaking).

I enjoy how lessons from classical history are threaded through this, and although I don’t understand them all there is either enough context for me to make an informed guess and/or the narrative shares the story as a kind of embedded vignette.

The introduction of the Ark works as an ending, blending biblical and classical (I wonder if it’s worth considering a small hint of biblical earlier too as then there’s a bit of progression with that idea).

The introduction of Pax Romana and the mirroring of history is interesting, too, plus the fact you lead with the politicians, moving to the effect of media in inciting disruption.

So, I nearly didn’t comment as the formative point I have is so small. I think it might be worth considering starting S1, S2 and S3 with an alternative to ‘The’.

With the addition of the asterisks, I’m noticing ‘The’ less than I did in the first few readings (I like the asterisks, for what it's worth). But for me, the repeated article detracts from the sense of build-up/progression and makes the poem less cohesive somehow - and less immediate.

As you can probably tell I like the rest of it (although I also agree with Jim's point about the title).


Last edited by Jane Crowson; 01-19-2021 at 08:47 AM. Reason: trying to type while home-schooling leads to multiple small errors
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Unread 01-19-2021, 04:47 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is online now
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Connecticut, USA
Posts: 6,840

Hi Andew,

I like the asterisks. Alternatively, you could number each stanza from 1-4. The mood of the poem as a whole and the theme certainly touch on the strange attitudes and events of these times. I also really like the imagery.

The sentence from the second half of L4 through L6 is a comma splice. My suggestion is to start L6 with “as.” Or just put a period or a semi-colon at the end of L5.

We feel the glut
of fellowship in never-ending distance,
as masks inter our faces at our breath’s insistence.

In S2L3, maybe put an apostrophe at the end of “politicians.”
of politicians’ “for the people” (sic).

Or a colon
of politicians: “for the people (sic).

S3L2 has six beats:
cumulus-cloudy, while the modern populus

Maybe something like this:
like cumuli, while the modern populus

The last stanza is the hardest one for me to grasp, but I get the basic gist.

I like the processional of clouds, the looming storm (a premonition), and the talk shows detonating a bomb of blame. I also like the rhymes, especially “Quirinal’s/urinals.” The mix of bits of allusion from the bible, classical mythology, and history is interesting.

Pretty much all that has been developing lately is a result of social media, fake news, and coverage bias, among other things.


Last edited by Martin Elster; 01-19-2021 at 04:49 PM.
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Unread 01-20-2021, 03:13 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Location: Lazio, Italy
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People’s comments have helped me to revise this further. I really needed the mirroring so I could see the poem better (often the case for me), so I am glad I posted it. Remarks on the storm conceit that runs through the poem got me to highlight that aspect more, with a few changes to key words and images, including the new title: “Storm Watch in Upper Lazio.”

Jim, I’ve tried out some tweaks to the end, since I agree with you that the ending wasn’t strong enough. I’ve tightened those last two lines, getting rid of redundant words such as “River” (“Tiber” alone is enough) and adding a quality to Romulus, who is now bearded as well as old and vatic. Is this closer to what you were feeling was needed? I feel that ending on the satirical note (“finally democratic” now instead of “almost democratic”) is in keeping with the poem’s tone, e.g. that line about turning voting booths into urinals, but I might be missing the point.

About that allegory at the end, combining biblical and classical motifs, flying in the face of logic is part of its meaning. I’m thinking along the lines of Abraham and Isaac in Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited.” Since Rome is a cradle of western civilization though not of democracy (that was Athens), as well as the western seat of Judeo-Christian culture, the poem is going back to those roots.

At your and Sarah-Jane’s spot-on suggestion, I’ve changed the title as well.

The far right in Italy, as in many places, has quite a bit of power at present, though for now they’re mostly just heckling from the sidelines, trying to find a way to grab power. Steve Bannon is a good friend of theirs, and is a main fomenter of vicious political crap in Europe, just as he was of Trumpism and very well may have been in the coup attempt on the 6th.

Sarah-Jane, thanks so much for your as-ever helpful reading. Your observations about the motif of the approaching storm got me see I should bring that out more in the poem, in some of the language and imagery as well as in the title.

You are also right about the “The” that was opening those three stanzas in a row—something I hadn’t noticed. It turns out that it was easy to cut back on them, so now that distraction is gone.

I’m glad you and Jim have given your thumbs up to the asterisks. I like them too.

Martin, I’ve gone back to a period to end line 5, to fix that comma splice you mentioned. For S2L3, I had more in mind “politicians [who are] ‘for the people’ (sic),” rather than that phrase being of or by the politicians, so I’d rather leave it as is.

For S3L2, I was reading populus as a dactyl, like English “populous,” but I agree that the context makes that ambiguous and the meter was too sloppy there, so I’ve made some changes. As often happens in making metrical fixes, other things also come more into focus, such as the redunancy of the modifier “modern,” which I deleted, and I made a couple other changes in response to that. Thanks for pointing it out.

Best to all,

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