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  #1  
Unread 09-07-2020, 12:45 PM
Carol Taylor Carol Taylor is offline
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Default Funeral Rain

Funeral in the Rain (rev)

You seldom see downpours like that anymore,
like the deluge the day they buried old Berry,
rain blowing sideways and dark coming down.

Old lady Sparks had hiked out from town
and stopped for a place to hole up from the storm
and a lift to the Fairland cemetery.

Likely she’d not even met old Berry,
but how could we leave her outside to drown
or be pounded by hailstones or lost in high water?

So we sat her to steam by the fire and warm,
her clothes dripping puddles under her chair,
and it fell to us kids to sit there and watch her

while our folks finished getting ready to go,
though at school kids had whispered if nobody died
she might kill a child, and it may have been so.

No funeral was ever too distant or private.
We’d see her sometimes out on 281
headed for Austin, riding her thumb.

I think of the rain, how it sounded back then:
the roar on a tin roof and wind in the rafters,
like an old woman mourning her next of kin.




Funeral in the Rain (original)


You seldom see downpours like that anymore,
like the deluge the day they buried old Berry,
rain blowing sideways and dark coming down.

Old lady Sparks had hitch-hiked out from town
and stopped for a place to hole up from the storm
and a lift to the Fairland cemetery.

Likely she’d not even met old Berry,
but how could we leave her outside to drown
or be pounded by hailstones or lost in high water?

So we sat her to steam in a chair by the fire,
rivulets puddling on the linoleum.
It fell to us kids to sit there and watch her

while our folks finished getting ready to go,
though at school kids had whispered if nobody died
she might kill a child, and it may have been so.

No funeral was ever too distant or private.
We’d see her sometimes out on 281
headed for Austin, riding her thumb.

I think of the rain, how it sounded back then:
the roar on a tin roof and wind in the rafters,
like an old woman mourning her next of kin.

Carol Taylor

Last edited by Carol Taylor; 09-16-2020 at 11:23 AM. Reason: revision
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  #2  
Unread 09-07-2020, 06:16 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Carol, it's good to hear from you again. I am interested by the story you tell here, but am finding it hard to scan. At first I mainly hear an accentual four-beat line, but it is hard to fit some lines into that pattern, so I lose it partway along. I also thought at first you had some kind of rhyme scheme going with "down/town/drown" and "cemetery/Berry" but that too gets lost, and the pattern is unpredictable. So, what are you going for here? Is it meant to be random, or am I missing the pattern?

Susan
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  #3  
Unread 09-08-2020, 12:55 AM
R. S. Gwynn's Avatar
R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is online now
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though at school kids had whispered if nobody died
she might kill a child, and it may have been so.


I like the local quality of this, but these two lines throw me for a loop in such a plain-spoken narrative. The latter of these is also a case where the monosyllables overwhelm the pentameter that seems present elsewhere.
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Unread 09-08-2020, 06:55 AM
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Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
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Hi Carol! I hear a pattern of anapestic tetrameter.
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Unread 09-08-2020, 08:10 AM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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I agree with Mary, though I think L4 has an extra beat which disrupts the rhythm considerably.

Apart from the meter, though, I think the poem reads well but at least for me I'm not really getting a grip on the pull of nostalgia that the poem apparently is seeking to create. Why has this woman become an important memory of the speaker's childhood? Why is the rain such an important element of that memory? If there's a deeper subtext that supposed to be making these memories resonate, I don't quite see it. Perhaps others do.
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Unread 09-08-2020, 12:00 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Hi, Carol,
I thought I would come back and tell you which lines are most metrically ambiguous and cause me to stumble.

Old lady Sparks had hitch-hiked out from town (sounds like five beats if you stress "hitch" in "hitch-hiked". I didn't know whether to stress "old" or "lady")

rivulets puddling on the linoleum. (If you give "puddling" two syllables, as I and the dictionary do, you aren't sure that "on" should take a stress)

while our folks finished getting ready to go, (no idea where to put the stresses)

like an old woman mourning her next of kin. (no idea where to put the stresses)

Anapestic rhythms can take a lot of variations, but they don't respond well to ambiguity.

Susan
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Unread 09-09-2020, 10:12 AM
Carol Taylor Carol Taylor is offline
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Thank you for comments and pointers, Susan, Roger, Mary, and Sam. They have really been an eye-opener to the metrical ambiguity I've got here. First, I was going for a loose anapestic tetrameter, as Mary and Roger got, though I know I have an extra unstressed syllable on the spondee in line 4. I was going for the local country dialect of N's childhood, a triple meter with the metrical stresses not always lining up exactly with the vocal. Susan, here's how it starts and how I read the lines you mentioned.

You seldom see downpours like that anymore,
like the deluge the day they buried old Berry,
rain blowing sideways and dark coming down.

Old lady Sparks had hitch-hiked out from town

rivulets puddling on the linoleum.

while our folks finished getting ready to go,
though at school kids had whispered if nobody died

like an old woman mourning her next of kin.

Clearly I didn't take into consideration how easily it could go south if you started off in pentameter, as Sam did, with stresses on see, like, and blow.

I didn't start out to rhyme, but sometimes rhymes happen. I don't hate a random or occasional rhyme, and lately when I write at all I've been going for a more casual voice. Maybe it's laziness on my part, but I don't feel compelled to go all or nothing as I used to. If you think it's important I can work on a regular rhyme scheme.

I'm going to start revising with L4 and try to tighten the meter and maybe the rhyme up a little. Thanks for the continuing help.

Carol
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  #8  
Unread 09-11-2020, 09:36 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi Carol,

I enjoyed this a lot. I seemed to fall easily into the loose anapaestic tetrameter that you intended, though L4 definitely stumbles. I feel it would be easier just to take out the word out.

I really like the casual, conversational tone and the strange story of the old woman gatecrashing funerals. The final image is odd, since the simile contradicts the behaviour of Old lady Sparks. She mourned people she barely knew. Im not sure what to make of it. If I suggested something like:

like a lonely old woman mourning for strangers

would I be completely missing the point?

Mark
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  #9  
Unread 09-12-2020, 10:24 AM
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Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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I'm reminded vaguely, differently, of "Maude" from "Harold and Maude". I hear it the same as Mary did. With the difficulties Susan did. The story has so much grit and local character. I'd read it just for its depictions of rain.

[edit: not so vaguely, just that Maude's visits to unrelated* funerals were somehow positive events.

*No man is an island, etc.

Last edited by Daniel Kemper; 09-13-2020 at 04:02 PM. Reason: add quick note
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  #10  
Unread 09-12-2020, 06:52 PM
Carol Taylor Carol Taylor is offline
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Thanks for the comments, Mark and Daniel. I will get rid of a syllable in L4, at least for the written version. But I really want "out." How would you feel about "Old lady Sparks had hiked out from town"?

Mark, I don't guess anybody knew what made her the way she was, but she wailed at every funeral as though the loss were her own.

Carol
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