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  #21  
Old 01-17-2018, 02:31 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Matt, Jan, Fliss, David,

And thank you very much for these visits! Now i feel I have something to go on with revision, and to get some poetry across here to a reader.
Matt: I plan to adopt just about all of your suggestions. I like prose, but agree that "but" is better. The priest and monastery were in the Algerian War, that's tighter. Glad you came around somewhat to my line break (update: though I just killed it). I'm deleting the Julian the Apostate Nazarene line. And I like that you like the messengers with the coins.
Jan: I'm glad you are enjoying this. Yes, the coins were likely obols, at least to me.
Fliss: amaranth was a food staple in Mesoamerica. But I like that it is immortal in Greek mythology, and to Milton for instance. It is a charged sight on the hillside, like the laurel. No deities though.
David: I'm glad you like the Seferis poem. My God, how full of joy!
I think the ending works better Matt's way.

Thanks all, thank you,
John

Update: revision posted.

Last edited by John Isbell; 01-17-2018 at 02:35 PM.
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  #22  
Old 01-20-2018, 12:21 PM
Felicity Teague's Avatar
Felicity Teague Felicity Teague is offline
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Hi John,

Well, I'm back, but I haven't had much time for Seferis because I've been writing about safaris. (I refer to my latest copywriting project, woo-hoo!)

However, I have a couple of suggestions here, which may or may not be of use to you.

1.
I think you might not need to tell the reader that you're reading Seferis, because you've already indicated this with the opening quotation. You could begin with the contrast set up at the beginning of the poem, for example.

2.
It might be useful to take some time to form a clear idea of what the poem is about – I note you're not too sure! (See page 1, #10.) There is potential, but I find it difficult to comment further because, in turn, I'm not sure how to help at this stage :-/

Best wishes,
Fliss
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  #23  
Old 01-20-2018, 04:20 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Good afternoon Fliss,

And thank you for your return visit and your thoughts. Going from safaris to Seferis seems worth it in purely lexical terms.
I guess the bottom line for me is that I'm working on a kind of kaleidoscopic, meandering, prosy style, in which odds and ends bob up and slip under again, in which it's not immediately apparent what the theme of the piece is, since after all that is a constant in lived existence. So I'm less perturbed than one might anticipate by my remark that I'm unsure what this is about. I also value what you might call "l'ivresse de l'incomprehension", that drunken feeling of not getting it. I'm not planning to be Ashbery, but I think there's room for such an art in poetry.
OK, that's my manifesto for today.

Cheers,
John

Update: I'm also happy for this to drift down the table now toward relegation.
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  #24  
Old 01-22-2018, 01:13 PM
Sergio F Lima Sergio F Lima is offline
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HI John:

What follows is the best translation from Greek I could find in the web. I would not be surprised if was just nonsensical internet verbiage: "We have no pleasure. Spoke the martyrs".

I was not familiar with George Seferis. Until now, Cavafy was the only Greek poet I had ever read.

I like a poem that is so clear and straightforward that it reads itself to the reader. Favorite lines:
This is a story that returns to me often.
The messengers have coins on their eyes,
they have come a long way.


It reminds me of:
He who has gone the furthest has a long way to go. (Tomas Tranströmer )
And Seferis wrote a poem named Hades.

Can I suggest a slight change in the ending? To avoid repeating Inexplicable? Which is fine, but perhaps something more intriguing would make the reader scratch his head a little harder. Such as:
No deity in sight. It is inexplicable,
say the old men in the village.
A shipwreck?

Think of all those gods lost at sea. And then reappearing after millennia.

Best regards:

Sergio
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  #25  
Old 01-22-2018, 02:48 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Good afternoon Sergio,

And thank you for visiting with my poem! I especially liked this sentence of yours: "I like a poem that is so clear and straightforward that it reads itself to the reader." To my mind, that is a lovely image.
I like your idea of ringing changes in the ending, and picking up on your discussion, I might try "Old gods lost at sea" to close.

Cheers,
John
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  #26  
Old 01-22-2018, 05:34 PM
Sergio F Lima Sergio F Lima is offline
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John:
Exploring your poem further, I wondered about the gunman and the Algerian priest. As you know, Algeria is a Muslim country. What would a Catholic priest be doing in Algeria? Then I remembered that when Algeria was a French colony there were some Catholics converted from Islam, and there was even a monastery in the Atlas mountains. The monks' lives and fate are shown in a French film: Des hommes et des dieux (2010) (Of Men and Gods)

From Wikipedia:
In 1996, in Algeria, eight French monks of The Monastery Notre-Dame de l'Atlas of Tibhirine have a simple life serving the poor community that was raised around the monastery. During the Algerian Civil War, they are threatened by terrorists but they decide to stay in the country and not return to France.

Sadly, it did not end well for the monks.

So even if you were not thinking about those particular monks, yes - there were Catholic priests in Algeria.

I think your idea of giving the ending a tweak will enhance the poem. Of course all those gods lost at sea were Roman-Greco statues being shipped around.


Best:

Sergio
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  #27  
Old 01-22-2018, 06:05 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Sergio,

You are the first person to track down where my Algerian priest came from. He's from that exact film, and his answer to the gunman, which I still find quite moving, is that they do of course have a choice: they can stay and be killed. Which, as you note, is what they choose to do in the end.

I agree, the new ending may be better. Thank you so much for the suggestion!

Cheers,
John

PS I should add that the monks all take a vote first, after a comparatively heated discussion. It's a great film.
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  #28  
Old 01-22-2018, 10:57 PM
Sergio F Lima Sergio F Lima is offline
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Yes, I saw the movie some time ago and I remember the monks taking a vote. They decided to stay put and continue their work. A fatal decision.
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  #29  
Old 01-22-2018, 11:08 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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I'm glad you had a chance to see the movie!

John
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