Eratosphere Forums - Metrical Poetry, Free Verse, Fiction, Art, Critique, Discussions Able Muse - a review of poetry, prose and art

Forum Left Top

Notices

Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Unread 02-22-2021, 05:17 PM
Sergio F Lima Sergio F Lima is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Kansas City,MO,USA. There is also Kansas City,KS but I don't live there.
Posts: 2,281
Default Unfinished Landscape

Nobody
in this family has ever died of love.
Their grief turned into smiles, their days flew fast
and they vanished without a causa mortis
or two coins to cross the Styx.
On a wall calendar hanging in a kitchen
that has seen its fair share of cooking and baking, a red circle
was drawn around a Friday in April.
Inside the circle, across its diameter, a reminder
of what may or may not happen - a debt to be settled,
a birthday celebration, two hours of thought,
three hours of laughter. And why not also Venice in the spring,
and an unquenchable sudden passion,
the stuff of forbidden dreams? Early morning
the sun crowds in through the windows
and warms up palazzi and colonnades that are strong enough
to take the load of human fate. To lovers lining up
for a romantic gondola ride, a caveat:
the gondolier will sing a song or two, if paid extra
there and then.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Unread 02-24-2021, 09:35 AM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: London
Posts: 226
Default

Hello Sergio F Lima,

I do not tend to hang around these parts of less regulated stress patterns, but for some strange reason no one is commenting on this poem, so let me have a go.

The line writing for the most part is good, so here I am thinking mostly about structure, the divisions and transitions and repetitions of the poem. Roughly, the sections for me of the poem are as follows:

1

Nobody
in this family has ever died of love.
Their grief turned into smiles, their days flew fast
and they vanished without a causa mortis
or two coins to cross the Styx.

2

On a wall calendar hanging in a kitchen
that has seen its fair share of cooking and baking, a red circle
was drawn around a Friday in April.
Inside the circle, across its diameter, a reminder
of what may or may not happen - a debt to be settled,
a birthday celebration, two hours of thought,
three hours of laughter.

3

And why not also Venice in the spring,
and an unquenchable sudden passion,
the stuff of forbidden dreams? Early morning
the sun crowds in through the windows
and warms up palazzi and colonnades that are strong enough
to take the load of human fate.

4

To lovers lining up
for a romantic gondola ride, a caveat:
the gondolier will sing a song or two, if paid extra
there and then.


For me the whole poem is a thematic expansion/elaboration of the opening absence of the modern concept of romatic love motif in "Nobody/ in this family ever died of love". The beginning of section 3 is a neat turn/transition to set up the Venice scene. Using Venice in the elaboration is a bit like using Paris to denote romantic love, is an easily predictd move.

For me the main bulk of how this poem could improve would be in the specifics of the description of Venice. I think the following is a waste of lines in being too much generalized cliche: "and an unquenchable sudden passion/the stuff of forbidden dreams. "The lines are not bad, per se, in the context of the poem's voice, but surely something more interesting can be found. At the moment the description of Venice is something like what I would write, and I have never visited Venice, as the writing is more like an outine of stock images, stock emotional impressions of Venice.

Section 4 is more succesful as it is trying to express some kind of first-hand insider view of Venice that lifts it about romantic generalities about the city, and it is a good enough ending.

It might be worthwhile exploring the theme of the modern conception of romantic love in sections 3 and 4 without leaning on all the ready made associations centred on the city of Venice.

Oh, and I am not really getting the relation of the title to the subject at the moment.

Ill est suffit.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Unread 02-25-2021, 10:18 PM
Sergio F Lima Sergio F Lima is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Kansas City,MO,USA. There is also Kansas City,KS but I don't live there.
Posts: 2,281
Default

Hi Yves:

Thank you for looking at this, and for your thoughtful critique. Your points are well taken.

Let me tell you about my decision against a more detailed description of Venice. In fact, in one of the preliminary drafts, I included some of the postcards depictions of the "Serenissima", such as the Piazza San Marco, the Rialto bridge, the Grand Canal etc. But then it occurred to me that even those who had never set foot in Venice knew those landmarks well enough to dispense with a description that ran the risk of sounding like a travelogue.

Moreover, a description of the city would add a few more lines to the poem without much benefit to its central theme. I wanted the reader to be curious about the rationale of a circle drawn on a calendar in the kitchen of a house whose inhabitants had already departed this life. Why a Friday in April was important to that person, and, alternatively, what other engagements he/she was careful not to forget. Since the date suggested a spring escapade, I brought the personage to Venice. And being as sexually repressed as the rest of the family, he/she had to deal with falling in love for the first time, alone in a strange city.

Initially, the title was to be Unfinished Heaven, but then I remembered a poem by Tomas Tranströmer titled Half-Finished Heaven, and had to find a last-minute substitute.

Thank you again for your critique, and regards:
S
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Unread 02-26-2021, 02:15 PM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: London
Posts: 226
Default

Hello.

The amount of detail of Venice is to me a secondary point. What would change if you swapped out Venice with Paris? What would change if you did not already have a store of well known romantic cliches and stereotyped associations to finish the development of the poem? Could you finish off the poem just using an encounter in some random town? What would that look like?
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Unread 02-26-2021, 04:59 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: England, UK
Posts: 3,953
Default

Hi Sergio,

Mostly I'm going to give you my reading of this, since that's something I always find useful when I post my own poems.

When I read the first two lines alone I understand that no one has died of (too much) love, and think the family a loveless/unloving family.

But reading the next two, I think that "nobody has ever died of love" means that nobody has ever died of heart break - the departure or death of a loved one. That's seems to be the only way I can understand "grief" in this context. This family is resilient rather than unloving. I like the magical realist vibe of what happens to them instead: vanishing with no cause.

I can read it: they don't die of love (heartbreak), but they do vanish. And being as how they die without a cause of death or money to pay the ferryman, it sounds bit like they do die.

So, next the calendar on a wall in a kitchen. Whose? We're not told. Maybe the N's, or maybe a family member's; these are main options I guess, and I imagine, from the impersonal "a kitchen" I imagine the latter. And I tend to imagine it's the calendar of a family member who's dead/vanished. And hence the calendar with its red circle presents a mystery.

We don't know what the circled date signifies, but one possibility would be Venice. So, I wonder if this family member, having lost their lover one way or another, rather than being dead, has vanished to Venice, maybe with a new lover, or to look for one ...?

Now the close: The money to pay the gondolier is nicely echoing the money to pay Charon. And maybe that's all "if paid there and then" is signifying, however it also seems to have a cynical and maybe also anti-romantic vibe. I'm not sure how to relate that to my reading of the rest of the poem. Maybe it says something about the family's attitude to love and helps explain why they deal so well with break-ups? But ultimately, I'm not quite getting the close, I think.

I think my main nit is with the opening. I really like the opening two lines, they certainly grab my attention, (even if they misled me a little), but going another two lines without an image, I liked less. Four lines of abstraction is too much for me. I'd imagine there would be ways to weave some imagery into this, though.

best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 03-17-2021 at 02:02 PM. Reason: typo
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Unread 02-27-2021, 04:09 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: *
Posts: 2,169
Default

Don't go half way, Sergio. No one has ever died of love.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Unread 02-28-2021, 08:31 PM
Nicholas McRae Nicholas McRae is offline
New Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2021
Location: Canada
Posts: 6
Default

First Impression

This is my first critique at Eratosphere so bear with me; I'll try to add some thoughts that haven't already been expressed by others.

The first thing that stood out to me about this piece was it's strong word choice. You've been economical about your use of words, but still managed to add a lot of colour and warmth. There is very little that is completely unnecessary in there, which I assume is a part of your craft. This adds a lot of strength to the poem.

Minor Bits

I found it interesting that you gave the word Nobody it's own line but didn't use any other similar, stylistic elements across the poem. I wouldn't say this is a good or bad thing, but it is a strong entrance that seems to have been given a bit of a disjuncture. Maybe a matter of personal preference.

I believe the phrase 'cooking and baking' could be improved. Rhythmically the poem flows well, but when I hit this line the spell that you've got me under from the first four lines is weakened a bit. The line still works, but seems to have lost a bit of the initial flow.

The phrase 'and an unquenchable sudden passion' might denote more power and rhythm by becoming 'an unquenchable sudden passion'.

I'm not fully in agreement with some others about your use of cliche' here. Some of your phrases work well within the context of the poem, and I believe you'd only break up the overall effect by trying to be too original.

Overall Impression

You've opened and closed the poem with very strong lines, and the piece as a whole is warm, which I enjoyed. However, thematically I had trouble cracking the meaning of the poem, or seeing the relationship between the opening and closing lines.

It is cohesive and reads well but I couldn't quite pinpoint what you were aiming for, and I think if you were able to make that clearer it would add to the strength of the poem.

Other than that, a touch more rhythm, and even more of the warmth that you've done so well and I think you've got a very beautiful piece.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Unread 03-07-2021, 09:06 PM
Sergio F Lima Sergio F Lima is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Kansas City,MO,USA. There is also Kansas City,KS but I don't live there.
Posts: 2,281
Default

Hi Yves:

Thank you for coming back.

In my mind, Paris stands for gayety, no matter this has not been the case since Baudelaire wrote Les Fleurs du Mal. And since I read Death in Venice, I can't help associate Venice with a dying city with throngs of tourists and almost no local people.

As you can see, my mental associations can be narrow-minded and quite unsophisticated. But thank you for asking why I chose Venice and not Paris or some other city.

Regards:

S
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Unread 03-07-2021, 09:41 PM
Sergio F Lima Sergio F Lima is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Kansas City,MO,USA. There is also Kansas City,KS but I don't live there.
Posts: 2,281
Default

Hi Matt:

Thank you for looking at this and for letting me catch a glimpse of your unique interpretation of this piece. There is a lot more I could have said to smooth things out, but since I can be quite loquacious, I have learned to police myself in order to keep my ideas from becoming a large salad bowl. Also, I think that only superb poets can keep going on and on without loosing the readers halfway through. So I have several incentives to not test other people's patience. I much appreciate your comments, and your viewpoints are well taken. If they are up for adoption, I may sign up for them.

Thank you again, and regards:
S
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Unread 03-07-2021, 10:01 PM
Sergio F Lima Sergio F Lima is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Kansas City,MO,USA. There is also Kansas City,KS but I don't live there.
Posts: 2,281
Default

Hi James:

Glad to hear from you.

OK, you may be right that real people do not die of love. But real people seldom inhabit the ethereal world of poetry. Romeo, Samson, Hercules, Achilles, and Jesus, either died of love or for love.

Just do not try it yourself.

Cheers:

S
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



Forum Right Top
Forum Left Bottom Forum Right Bottom
 
Right Left
Member Login
Forgot password?
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Statistics:
Forum Members: 8,158
Total Threads: 20,498
Total Posts: 260,291
There are 197 users
currently browsing forums.
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Sponsor:
Donate & Support Able Muse / Eratosphere
Forum LeftForum Right
Right Right
Right Bottom Left Right Bottom Right

Hosted by ApplauZ Online