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  #1  
Unread 11-03-2019, 07:20 PM
Jan Iwaszkiewicz's Avatar
Jan Iwaszkiewicz Jan Iwaszkiewicz is offline
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Default In Extremis

Below the ridge, a rabbit stilled
with swollen eyes that gleamed and filled
with dread.

I know of terror and the thud of blood that muscles squeeze from marrowbone.
I know constriction’s squeal and know how quickly one forgets to breathe in flight.
I need to breathe again and have the strength to face the quiet dark alone.
I know that death comes out from darkness. It is not a creature of the light.

Below the ridge, a rabbit shrilled.
Below the ridge, a falcon killed,
then fed.

I have posted a version of this quite some time aqo

Last edited by Jan Iwaszkiewicz; 11-05-2019 at 04:09 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 11-04-2019, 12:40 PM
Mark Stone Mark Stone is offline
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Jan, Hi.

1. This is a very interesting and chilling poem.

2. The first several times I read S1L1, I took “a rabbit stilled” to mean a rabbit that had been killed, i.e., “stilled” as an adjective. Then I concluded that you probably mean a rabbit that has chosen to remain perfectly still, i.e., “stilled” as a verb.

3. The first several times I read S3L2, I took “a falcon killed” to mean a falcon that had been killed. Then I concluded that you probably mean a falcon killed the rabbit, i.e. “killed” is a verb, not an adjective. I think it would be clearer if you put a comma after “killed.”

Best wishes,

Mark
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  #3  
Unread 11-04-2019, 04:24 PM
Ron Greening Ron Greening is online now
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Hi Jan,

I found this poem quite striking. The parallel variation of feet is effective visually as well as slowing and quickening the pace of reading. The rhyming and repetition serve the poem well. It seems to attach a feeling of inevitability. I didn’t experience the stumbles that Mark did and, though I am aware that he is a much better reader than me, I don’t want a comma after killed.

I have a few quibbles with the content that you might well choose to ignore. Bones are not squishy, so that idea didn’t quite work for me. (I’ve far over-stated the intended strength of my complaint.) I believe falcons tend to prey more on birds than on mammals like rabbits (but they are very cool). “Eagle” and many other types of raptor could work if this remark is correct in an Australian context and if ornithological accuracy is of any concern.

The second sentence of L4 S2 doesn’t add very much to the first sentence and they work a well mined territory.

The spaced parallel of “a rabbit stilled” and “a rabbit shrilled” was impactful and the two verbs are perfect. That really grabbed me, as did the swelling eyes.

I think first and third stanzas are great bookends but the book itself is less compelling. The repeat of “I know” doesn’t build on itself, for me, in the way you might intend.

Regards,
Ron
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Unread 11-04-2019, 07:19 PM
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RCL RCL is offline
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Jan,

I like what Ron said about this, mostly. The “I” lines seem to represent the human (macro) parallel to the rabbit/hawks (micro) condition. In other words, both human and fauna are existentially in extremis, nature being “red in tooth and claw.” The point is nicely made verbally and visually. No nits from me on life as the pits.
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Unread 11-04-2019, 10:17 PM
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Spindleshanks Spindleshanks is offline
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Jan, I do like this for its effective execution of your trademark bleak motif.
I wonder, though why you have chosen to intrude on the "I know" repetend with "I need" when a simple fix would be "I know the need . . . ." I think you could do without "quiet," not only to maintain the metre but also as a euphemism for death to signify the unknown and unwanted. "Quiet dark" suggests welcome tranquility, out of keeping with the general tone of menace that impending violent death brings with it.

Re the commas, I would eliminate them all except at the end of the penultimate line as a brief pause before the climactic final line.

Peter
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Unread 11-05-2019, 03:25 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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I think I remember this one, Jan. It seems in solider shape now. ,

You must like Robinson Jeffers, or if you don't know his poetry, you must. He wrote on this theme a lot.

I was relieved that "I have posted a version of this quite some time aqo" was not the last line of the poem, though typographically it appeared to be.
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Unread 11-05-2019, 05:45 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Jan,

Yes, I remember this poem, and I like what you've done with it in the meantime. It seems pretty tight and resonant to me. I had a couple of little thoughts to share, so here goes. I guess the rabbit's eyes swell in terror. Is there a factual basis for this? Or is it non-literal? Similarly, do muscles indeed squeeze blood from marrowbone? Nice line, but it seems quite specific. I think I'd prefer "I know terror," without the of, if you have a handy fix. And I'm not convinced that death is not a creature of the light. Plenty of things die in daytime. I guess globally, I'm suggesting that this poem hesitates between clinical, if not scientific observation, and a less literal world. That may be a two-edged sword, generating some mystery and looming dread, but leaving the occasional reader scratching their head. If so - and I'm no biologist - there may not be an easy fix. Good poem anyway, which certainly creates a mood.

Cheers,
John
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Unread 11-05-2019, 03:44 PM
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Jan Iwaszkiewicz Jan Iwaszkiewicz is offline
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Hello Mark

I am sorry that this confused you.

I think that I agree on the comma and will add it.

Hello Ron,

The preponderance of blood does indeed come from bone marrow.

Our falcons will take a rabbit kitten.

I am sorry that the centre does not work for you.

Thanks Ralph,

You read it well

Hello again Peter,

btw I have been reading your translation work but as only my toe has been in the water i am still a little hesitant to comment, but I will (soon)

To me, there can be more terror in silence as the unknown is then total and can be populated with abject fear.I will ponder that one Peter.

I do not follow your comment on metre and scan the line thusly:

I need to breathe again and have the strength to face the quiet dark alone

I am with you part way on the commas

Hello Andrew

You have mentioned Jeffers to me before and I did look at his work and can see a little of what you do.

I am also relieved that it was not part of the poem lol but I duly note it was open to misconstruction however briefly.

Hello John

Most mammals would open their eyes wider when danger approaches I do not know of exceptions and would think that that is hard wired

Muscles do contract in stress and naturally would squeeze bone, I believe in fits, even break bone. Blood does come from bone a little poetic licence perhaps in being squeezed out.

What death is is subject to enormous relativity and also would vary on circumstance

There is quite a difference between 'knowing of' and 'knowing'

My regards and thanks to all.

Jan
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  #9  
Unread 11-05-2019, 06:31 PM
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Spindleshanks Spindleshanks is offline
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Jan, I should have been clearer.
The scansion is fine as it stands. If you were to follow my suggestion for the line and begin it with the repetend thusly: "I know the need to breathe again . . ." it would introduce an extra foot that could be compensated for by removing "quiet," which I see as unnecessary and out of harmony with the image you have constructed.

In regard to the commas, I think removing them would give a breathless quality to the pace of the opening and concluding stanzas, with a single momentary pause before the climactic final line.

Best with this. I look forward to your observations on my translation efforts.

Peter
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  #10  
Unread 11-05-2019, 08:22 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Jan,

I appreciate your responses to readers' comments here. I agree that most mammals' eyes widen in fear, but wonder if the word "swollen" captures that. I agree that you've used a little poetic license in discussing marrowbone. I agree that death looks different to all. And lastly, I agree that knowing of and knowing are not the same thing. To me, knowing of terror is quite a bit weaker as a statement, and I would think that anyone old enough to be writing poetry would have experienced terror first-hand. I don't know if that's of any use, but I thought I'd clarify my thinking here.

Cheers,
John
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