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  #1  
Unread 05-18-2024, 01:03 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Default The Flowers Sang

The Flowers Sang

Awake before the new day opens
I watch as sleep slips down the hall

until the walls begin to tell me
to step outside where fresh spring calls

blowing its oldest muted horn.
New life moves shyly in morning light.

Flowers naturally sing fresh lyrics
of life so short, beauty fading,

words ignored by evergreen shrubs,
trees contained within themselves.

The flower’s sad songs do not lull
as I, slow-paced, move past, a man

worn by scraping winds, who gathers
the courage to concede defeat,

a vapor as thin as the lightest myth,
borrowed feet touching borrowed earth.

Last edited by John Riley; 05-22-2024 at 08:43 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 05-18-2024, 02:09 PM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
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Hello John,

I am sorry, but I just want it more regular:

Awake before the new day opens
I watch as sleep slips down the hall

until the walls begin to tell me
to step outside where fresh spring calls.

It would be a tidy lyric if it was more regular. Yeah!
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  #3  
Unread 05-18-2024, 03:02 PM
Glenn Wright Glenn Wright is offline
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Hi, John

I like the multiple personifications in the opening lines (day, sleep, walls, spring, flowers) to animate the scene. The tone shift from upbeat to sad in S4L2 was unexpected. I wondered if the flowers singing the “fresh lyrics” were aware of the shortness of their lives, or if the speaker, aware of his own mortality, was saddened by the oblivious happiness of the soon-to-die flowers. “Scraping wind” is nice, and the last line is resonant.

I agree with Yves that the tetrameter is a bit stretched in a few lines. I was unable to scan S2L2, S3L1, S3L2, and S7L1. You use quite a few spondees, too (“fresh spring,” “horn,new” “songs do,” “slow pace”). Could you see if there is a way to even out the meter? Nice work!
Glenn
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  #4  
Unread 05-18-2024, 03:40 PM
Carl Copeland Carl Copeland is online now
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John, I shy away from suggesting greater regularity, since the Sphere tends to equate it with monotony, and you aren’t keen on counting syllables and feet (which is your inalienable right). Emboldened by Yves and Glenn, though, I’m forced to agree—especially about “spring,” which seems to be a one-syllable foot (like “lull” later in the poem), and “new” in the next line, which is not only extra where it is, but has a space open for it in the headless line that follows. Ok, you’ll say, forget feet: it’s accentual, four beats to a line. But you begin with three lines of regular iambic tetrameter and largely maintain it, with some standard variations, throughout, so it’s hard not to trip over the odder deviations.

I’m not sure what the vapor is—courage perhaps—but that doesn’t stop me from greatly admiring the final couplet.

Oh, and you need a comma after “pace,” I think. But don’t mind me. This is the kind of niggling I get off on in Met. I’m not good for much else.
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  #5  
Unread 05-18-2024, 04:30 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Iím certainly ready for help. I welcome any suggestions on meter. Thanks
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  #6  
Unread 05-18-2024, 05:28 PM
Glenn Wright Glenn Wright is offline
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Hi, John—

Yves’s suggestion for S2L2 is good, I think.

For S3L1-2:
has blown its oldest muted horn,
new life moves shyly in morning light.
[or]
new life moves, shy in morning light.
[This isn’t perfect because I still want to treat “new” as a stressed syllable, but you can see if Carl will let you get away with it.]

For S6L2-S7L1:
as I, slow-paced, move past, a man

worn by scraping winds, who gathers
[This has the added advantage of imitating the slow, shuffling, two-beat gait in S6L2.]

I also wondered why the title is in past tense when the poem is in present tense.
Glenn
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  #7  
Unread 05-18-2024, 06:06 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Riley View Post
Iím certainly ready for help. I welcome any suggestions on meter. Thanks
Most of Timothy Steele's book on meter is now online, and you can download the pdf. The first chapter, 71 pages, is found here. When I read these pages almost 20 years ago, it completely transformed my understanding of metrical poetry. I strongly recommend you read it (it's fun as well).
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  #8  
Unread 05-18-2024, 06:43 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Iíve read Steelerís book and will again. I have a problem with hearing the beats. My successful nonmet poems usually have a strong rhythm and pace. (I think so.) But organizing them in a received form alludes me often. I keep trying because I know the restraint can sometimes bring up good stuff.

Reading what Yves did helps. Thanks. Iíve always found it curious that on a workshop board often the first response is to move a poem that needs metrical help to nonmet.

Thanks
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  #9  
Unread 05-19-2024, 11:17 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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I made the changes suggested. I grabbed them up like a hungry dog. I will continue to look at the lines.

Does anyone have something to say about the entire poem?
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  #10  
Unread 05-20-2024, 12:17 AM
Glenn Wright Glenn Wright is offline
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One more nit. . .
In S3L1, because of the change Yves proposed in the previous line, change
“has blown its oldest muted horn”
to
“blowing its oldest muted horn.”

I like the poem overall. I’m left with the same confusion Carl had about “vapor.” It could just as easily refer to a weak, illusory kind of courage, or to the speaker himself whose spirit (vapor) in the “borrowed feet” of his body struggles to touch and stay connected to the “borrowed earth” of nature in spite of the “scraping wind” that forces him to confront his inevitable death. This might be one of those happy ambiguities that are best left unclarified.

Last edited by Glenn Wright; 05-20-2024 at 12:21 AM.
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