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  #11  
Unread 02-24-2021, 06:53 AM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
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Hello Mark Mcdonnell.

Thanks for the clarification. The poem ends gentler than what I thought it did, and that suits the whole gentle rollicking, gentle jostling nature of the voice. I thought the poem was enjoyable. I have no nits: the poem does what it says on the tin and does it well.

Of course I used this opportunity to impersonate Scottish folk, and though I would never perform my attempts in front of actual Scottish folk (I try not to consciously insult people) with their varied accents and that, I felt the need to make use of a childhood of watching too much Nesbitt for the purpose of hearing new sounds. I suspect I favour the Edinburgh accent the most, though.
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  #12  
Unread 03-01-2021, 01:13 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Mark, I think there is a lot of poetic mileage to be made from the misunderstandings by children (and even adults) of what they hear and read. I enjoyed your poem, even though I think it wasn't quite fair to Keats, who seems to have been a much tougher outdoorsy type than many give him credit for being. Dying of TB was not his fault. But I was charmed by the mistaken linking of Lethe to Leith and by the speaker's imagining of a poet meeting a rough but affectionate bunch of Scots.

Susan
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  #13  
Unread 03-01-2021, 03:17 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is online now
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Susan, what about the poem suggests that Keats wasn't outdoorsy?
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  #14  
Unread 03-01-2021, 03:28 PM
Joe Crocker Joe Crocker is offline
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Sorry to hijack but someone mentioned Jake Thackray. He probably deserves his own thread on this forum. I guess his lewd and sometimes disrespectful musings on women are no longer acceptable But it was quite a long time ago and it was a different world. His lyrics were often quite quite wonderful. The Brigadier is one of my favourites.

Song

Lyrics
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  #15  
Unread 03-01-2021, 07:44 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Roger, I assumed that calling Keats a "cow'rin, tim'rous beastie" was playing off the typical stereotype of a poet as being weak and weedy. The 14-year-old speaker would probably not have known about Keats's walking tour of Scotland, Ireland, and the Lake District, for example.

Susan
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  #16  
Unread 03-01-2021, 10:35 PM
Yonathan Asefaw Yonathan Asefaw is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark McDonnell View Post
(It's the bicentenary of Keats' death today, so I thought I'd write a little, irreverent something)


What thou among the leaves hast never known

And Lethe-wards had sunk, I guessed must mean
the Leith near Edinburgh — my dad lived there
or thereabouts, you see — so as I'd lean,
chin in my hands, at the desk, a wobbly chair
beneath (too small for 4th year lads like me)
I pictured poor John Keats condemned to meet
some tangled, drunken branch of his family tree
and leave behind the flowers at his feet
(the ones he claimed he somehow could not see)
to tread through rooms of empty Tennents cans
and Broons annuals, to share his poetry
with some Scots cousin who'd clap him by the hands
and roar, "yon easeful Death yer half in love wi'?
Dinna fash, ye cow'rin, tim'rous beastie!"
X
X
X

L13: say —> roar
I am new here so take my comments with a grain of salt.

I think that this poem has some interesting qualities about it, mostly with the strophes and whatnot. I do find that it could be tightened a little more, you might want to get rid of the archaic language in there (even if it is supposed to be a poem about Keats) I think at L13 you say roar, why would someone roar out words? (That is odd) why don't you say "said" instead of the latter? My opinion though. Also I think the rhyming is pretty solid and works well here. I do find that you should do something about the lack of emotional impact.

Anyway thanks for sharing.
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  #17  
Unread 03-03-2021, 05:51 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi folks!

I just saw that this had some new comments.

Yves -- Hi. I PM'd you, thinking this poem had breathed its last. Cheers.

Hi Susan -- The poem, as Roger says, isn't suggesting Keats wasn't outdoorsy. After all it suggests that going to Scotland would entail his having to "leave behind the flowers at his feet" and the Scots milieu is presented as very indoorsy: "rooms of empty Tennents cans / and Broons annuals". But you're right that the poem plays on the boy's stereotypical view of the poet (any poet!) as being overly sensitive and weedy. In the head of a 14 year old boy, walking in the countryside while composing poems doesn't necessarily equate to toughness. I hope the implication comes across that the boy is empathising with, rather than mocking, his idea of Keats, being a sensitive soul himself.

"cow'rin, tim'rous beastie!" is a Robert Burns line, as I'm sure you know. The most frequent poetry I heard growing up, apart from at school, was Burns, usually delivered with the aid of copious amounts of alcohol.

Joe -- Hijack away. I love Jake and won't hear a word said against him. Start a thread! Me and David Callin will join in if no one else does.

Hi Yonathan -- Welcome to the Sphere! Is there any archaic language in the poem, apart from the bits that are either direct quotes or paraphrases from Keats or Burns? I'm not sure which lines you mean.
The Scots cousin "roars" because he's affectionate and enthusiastic and probably drunk. It's a friendly, though potentially intimidating, roar.

Cheers folks.

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 03-03-2021 at 06:08 AM.
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  #18  
Unread 03-03-2021, 07:49 PM
Lawrence Rhu Lawrence Rhu is offline
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Default words misheard

Thanks for this fine sonnet, Mark. Its single declarative sentence snakes its way gracefully through the exactions of rhyme for nearly 13 lines before the mood abruptly changes to interrogative and then imperative in the direct discourse of the couplet. Though my grandfather was born in Dundee, he left Scotland at age 6 almost a century and a half ago, so, I have no present-day native informant. But, thanks to Google, I was able to enjoy the Scottish details—Leith, Tennents, Broons, “Dinna fash”—with no significant delay in poetic gratification. I was momentarily puzzled by “4th year lads” who confuse “Leith” with “Lethe” since I cherish the memory of a detail in John Hollander’s discussion of the Psalms in Congregation: a fourth-grader who hears her teacher’s name in the final verse of the class recitation of Ps 23 as “Good Mrs. Murphy will follow me all the days of my life.” Besides the excellence of your easy-going progress through the end rhymes, “beneath” nicely echoes both “Leith” and “Lethe” from within, as though they are sounds it is easy to mistake for similar sounds. Both you and Hollander remind me of the imaginative possibilities in words misheard.
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  #19  
Unread 03-05-2021, 10:14 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi Lawrence,

After I posted this I did wonder if "4th year lads" might cause confusion among US readers. In English secondary schools in the 80s being in the "4th year" meant you were about 14/15, which is very different to the US "4th grade" (about 8 or 9?). It's changed now to something closer to the US system, so 4th year is now Y10. Confusing!

Anyway, thanks for those kind comments and welcome to the Sphere!

(this should probably sink now...)
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