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  #1  
Unread 01-18-2020, 08:47 AM
Andrew Mandelbaum's Avatar
Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is offline
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Default Extinction

Extinction


What does this voice sew
hither, beyond

Paul Celan



You drop the stones
down the mouth of the well,
recounting the silence
from finger to sea.
You cistern the ruins
in a spiraling shell.

Past wax-capped combs
into the middle,
the buzzings of wings,
the windings of sibyl,
you drop the stones
down the mouth of the well.

Fingertips wedded
in ferrous and talc
where they should be ringed
red in berry,
you cistern the ruins
in a spiraling shell.

Each tilt of the palm
is a rung in the spell
of the dowser that rings
at the gates of the sea.
You drop the stones
down the mouth of the well.

By the tooth, by the tine,
by the clench of the tell,
you word into water
what's silent in sleep
You cistern the ruins
in a spiraling shell.

This watching, this counting,
this keeping's a swell
you touch to your lips,
you name from your knees.
You drop the stones
down the mouth of the well.

Sister, this cistern's a spiraling shell.



This was a published piece that never sat right with me. I realized the polarity, the addressee was wrong as well as a fair few other lines. Revised here.

Extinction



What does this voice sew
hither, beyond
Paul Celan


You drop the stones down the mouth of the well,
recounting the silence from finger to sea.
You cistern the ruins in a spiraling shell.

Past wax-capped combs, into the middle
The buzzings of wings, the windings of sibyl.
You drop the stones down the mouth of the well.

Fingertips wedded in ferrous and talc
where they should be ringed red in berry.
You cistern the ruins in a spiraling shell.

Each tilt of the palm is a rung in the spell
of the dowser that rings at gates of the sea,
you drop the stones down the mouth of the well.

By the tooth, by the tine, by the clench of the tell
wording to waters the sort sent to sleep.
You cistern the ruins in a spiraling shell.

This watching, this counting, this keeping's a swell
you touch to your lips, you name from your knees.
You drop the stones down in the mouth of the well.
Sister, this cistern's a spiraling shell.







Phrases is italics is an echo from Celan's Snowpart

Last edited by Andrew Mandelbaum; 01-23-2020 at 07:21 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 01-19-2020, 12:37 AM
R. S. Gwynn's Avatar
R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
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I don't think the form of the villanelle, which calls a lot of attention to itself, mates very well with this four-beat meter, which also chimes in the ear rather loudly. Do you pronounce "ruin" as two syllables? If so that gives you three unstressed syllables in a row several times.
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  #3  
Unread 01-19-2020, 02:03 PM
Andrew Mandelbaum's Avatar
Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is offline
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I never thought about the fours. I tend to like these spell-ish poems sing- songy but I get that many don't. I will try an experiment and add a beat to each line here and see if something interesting happens.

I say ruin like rune when I read it.

Good thoughts.

Thanks.
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  #4  
Unread 01-21-2020, 08:40 AM
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R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is offline
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Andrew, the poem is excellent. I suppose there are little blips in the meter, but I think they might be smoothly absorbed by some radical re-lineation, dividing each line in two. This would also help a reader to slow down and thus pay proper attention to each and every word of your as-usual dense tone. There is, to my ear, never an unstressed moment in your poems, never a beat of rest. They have an unceasing intensity that often blurs me at the outset until I give them what they demand of my mind. Then I often love them.


Extinction


What does this voice sew
hither, beyond
.....................Paul Celan



You drop the stones
down the mouth of the well,
recounting the silence
from finger to sea.
You cistern the ruins
in a spiraling shell.

Past wax-capped combs
into the middle,
the buzzings of wings,
the windings of sibyl,
you drop the stones
down the mouth of the well.

Fingertips wedded
in ferrous and talc
where they should be ringed
red in berry,
you cistern the ruins
in a spiraling shell.

Each tilt of the palm
is a rung in the spell
of the dowser that rings
at gates of the sea.
You drop the stones
down the mouth of the well.

By the tooth, by the tine,
by the clench of the tell,
wording to waters
the sort sent to sleep.
You cistern the ruins
in a spiraling shell.

This watching, this counting,
this keeping's a swell
you touch to your lips,
you name from your knees.
You drop the stones
down in the mouth of the well.

Sister, this cistern's a spiraling shell.



Arranged like this, it seems far easier to let each carefully chosen phrase chisel itself into one's ear. I also changed some of the punctuation, dropped or added a comma or two. The only phrase that suffers a bit in isolation is 'the sort sent to sleep', but I am a bit confused by that anyway, I think that stanza needs a bit of work. The mixture of forms that Sam complains about seems moot to me once this further linear wrenching is performed, and dividing the repetends up makes them surrender to the chantlike tetrameter rhythms that might have been working at cross-currents against them.

The poem seems to me almost a spell to ward off death. And it tricks the fear of death by opening that death and making the chanter enter it like the stone enters the well. And equating the depths with a spiraling shell gives that emptiness of death/extinction its own voice, for a shell held to the ear does sing. I feel like that gorgeous final line holds that revelation, that emptiness does have a voice, and that faced with extinction we can resist heroically, but in the end we will simply have to listen. Beautiful.

Nemo

Last edited by R. Nemo Hill; 01-21-2020 at 09:56 AM.
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  #5  
Unread 01-21-2020, 01:27 PM
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Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
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Hi Andrew,



I thinks it's quite good. I see Sam's points better now that Nemo has addressed them. It isn't a Hoyle villanelle to start with, so extracting it from the form and crafting stanzas that make the repetition seem less formulaic really improves the poem.


Rick
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  #6  
Unread 01-21-2020, 01:41 PM
R. S. Gwynn's Avatar
R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
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I like Nemo's lineation. You might also consider using the imperative throughout:

Drop the stones
down the mouth of the well (etc.)

Macbeth's witches use the imperative.

Last edited by R. S. Gwynn; 01-21-2020 at 07:01 PM.
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  #7  
Unread 01-22-2020, 07:07 AM
Andrew Mandelbaum's Avatar
Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is offline
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That works for me, Nemo! Chrissy says that is how I read it out loud.
I was working on that sort line. I couldn't get what I wanted out of it so I went another direction. I think it stumbles less now.

By the tooth, by the tine,
by the clench of the tell,
you word into water
the silent gone deep.
You cistern the ruins
in a spiraling shell

You really are a great editor. Thanks.

Glad it takes some of the issues out of the mix, Sam. I don't like the imperative there. Takes away the agency of the addressed.

I agree, Rick. I don't even know what a Hoyle is or how I have let this Hoyle down. But I will go look it up later.

Sorry for the short note. Late for work.
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  #8  
Unread 01-23-2020, 05:19 PM
Tim McGrath Tim McGrath is offline
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Things I like in your revision:

"gates of the sea," which reminds me of Dylan's "between the windows of the sea" in "Desolation Row." I'd probably add a "the" to the phrase, giving the meter a bit of a lilt.

The whole notion of a well as a gateway to the sea is thrilling to me, as is the preceding line "from finger to sea," both echoed in "spiraling shell." Dickinson played with the same idea in "What mystery pervades a well!"

I like the way you verbalize nouns--turn nouns into verbs--not only here with "cistern the ruins" but in other poems of yours.

"By the tooth, by the tine, by the clench of the tell": Wonderful.

As you have recognized, the commentary here is very good.

Things that concern me:

Like Nemo, I am bothered by "the sort sent to sleep"

A cistern is a hole in the ground, not a synonym for a well. But maybe the similarity erases the difference. I don't know.

"middle" doesn't rhyme with "sibyl," much less with "well." As a friend of mine once said, "Nothing causes me more anguish than a rhyme that doesn't rhyme."

And then in the succeeding stanza you have no rhymes at all. Talc, berry, shell? I may be alone in this, but I see the off-rhymes and the lack of rhymes as glaring flaws. In the interest of perfection, I would rework those stanzas or delete them.
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  #9  
Unread 01-23-2020, 07:16 PM
Andrew Mandelbaum's Avatar
Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is offline
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Evening Tim. Welcome to the Sphere.

Thanks for the comments.

That missing the the gates of the sea line was a typo. Thanks for the catch.

I hear you on the cistern/well issue. I guess I think it underlines the paradox of soul being open to the sea some moments and closed in at others. Collective vs individual maybe? Also what you said, maybe I just squint.

I revised that sort line in the latest edit.

I think your tastes for rhyme are fair game. I don't feel that way about it myself but I understand many do. I like how the search for rhyme leads me into new places. But sometimes after rhyme has done its work of showing me what I didn't know I was on about I find some other vein and can't leave it. Such was the berry stanza. Like I said, though, fair complaint.

Thanks again.
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  #10  
Unread 01-30-2020, 01:44 PM
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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Excellent revisions, Andrew.

I'm too late to add much besides my general approbation, and my specific approbation of this inspired edit:
you word into water
what's silent in sleep
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