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  #1  
Unread 05-19-2019, 07:07 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Default Sonnet about now

Hush (rev 4)

Even as I laugh, my focus flits —
the past, or someone lost who would have loved
these kids tonight, the silly vaudeville skits
they rustle up: bad jokes, they both get shoved,
one ducks then comes up smiling. That's the end!
I clap for more, but even now my mind
speeds on — five years, ten — some unseen bend
in the road ahead, what troubles they might find.

All evening, back and forth like this, until
the pull of then or then makes me forget
to say goodnight. They're sleeping, so I allow
the moment just to hang, my gaze to still —
look closer, listen keener — this is now.
So perfect, this advice, so true. And yet...




changes from rev3:
L1: 'I'm laughing' --> 'I laugh'
L6: 'Then, even as I clap for more, my mind' --> 'I clap for more, but even then my mind'
L7: 'is racing' --> 'keeps racing' --> 'speeds on'
L10: 'the pull of then and then' --> 'the pull of elsewhere time' --> 'the pull of then or then'
L12: 'the gaze' --> 'my gaze'
L14: 'perfect' --> 'simple' --> (and back again)






Hush (rev 3)

Even as I'm laughing, my focus flits —
the past, or someone lost who would have loved
these kids tonight, the silly vaudeville skits
they rustle up: bad jokes, they both get shoved,
one ducks then comes up smiling. That's the end!
Then, even as I clap for more, my mind
is racing — five years, ten — some unseen bend
in the road ahead, what troubles they might find.

All evening, back and forth like this, until
the pull of then and then makes me forget
to say goodnight. They're sleeping, so I allow
the moment just to hang, the gaze to still —
look closer, listen keener — this is now.
So perfect, this advice, so true. And yet...




back to Petrarchan structure
various small changes mainly to the octave. Sestet back how it was in rev2
L2 - 'or someone lost' was 'and family lost'





Hush (rev 2)

Even here, this moment, a sudden pall —
a weight — somebody gone who would have loved
the kids tonight, the silly music hall
routine they do: bad jokes, they both get shoved,
one ducks then comes up smiling. That's the end!
Or even as I laugh, the way my mind
speeds on – five years, ten – some unseen bend
in the road ahead, the fear of what they'll find.

All evening back and forth like this, until
I climb the stairs. They're sleeping, so allow
the moment just to hang, the gaze to still —
look closer, listen keener — this is now.
So perfect, this advice, so true. And yet
the pull of then and then makes me forget.




L10 moved to become L14
What was L11 (now 10) altered slightly





(revision)

Hush

Even here, this moment, a sudden pall —
a weight — somebody gone who would have loved
the kids tonight, the silly music hall
routine they do: bad jokes, they both get shoved,
one ducks then comes up smiling. That's the end!
Or even as I laugh, the way my mind
speeds on – five years, ten – some unseen bend
in the road ahead, the fear of what they'll find.

All evening back and forth like this, until
the pull of then and then makes me forget
to say goodnight. They're sleeping, so allow
the moment just to hang, the gaze to still —
look closer, listen keener — this is now.
So perfect, this advice, so true. And yet.



changes to L1, 2, 3 and 5
Got rid of 'dice/cards' line
Changes to sestet.
Got rid of parentheses.
Trying 1st person.
Changed 'in the moment' to 'this moment' in L1 (live 'in the moment' being a bit of a stock phrase, perhaps)
Separated octave/sestet


Hush

Even here, in the moment, a glimmer still —
a flash — somebody gone who would have loved
the kids tonight, the silly vaudeville
routine they do: bad jokes, they both get shoved,
one ducks and comes up smiling. That's the end!
Or even as you laugh, the way the mind
speeds on – five years, ten – some unseen bend
in the road ahead, the fear of what they'll find —
we can't control the dice, which cards are dealt.
All evening back and forth like this — you forget
to say goodnight. So as they sleep, allow
the moment just to hang, your gaze to melt —
look closer, listen keener — this is now.
(So perfect, this advice, so true — and yet)
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  #2  
Unread 05-19-2019, 10:50 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is online now
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Mark, I assume the omission of the final period was deliberate, to leave the poem hanging. But I don't think you need the parentheses to set off the last line. The whole poem consists of comments on previous comments. The fragmentary nature of the statements mimics the thought process.

Susan
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  #3  
Unread 05-19-2019, 01:12 PM
Ashley Bowen Ashley Bowen is offline
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If this were mine, I'd clean up the meter in the first line to establish a recognizable meter between the poem and reader.

I'm wondering about that wrenched rhyme of "still" and "vaudeville." Not sure that it's working for me. Is there a foot missing in that line? I only count four stresses.

Are there six stresses in the "All evening back . . ."?

All EVEning BACK and FORTH like THIS — YOU forGET

I'm also struggling to get a firm grip on who is speaking and about whom the speaker is speaking.

If the gaze melts, does it get "look closer"? If a gaze melts, it seems it would actually lessen in strength. Seems to be illogical to me.

If there is a person who is missing out on this--which I suspect--that's much more interesting material than "the wonder of kids sleeping." That's the kind of thing we've seen a lot of. As a reader, I'd like to read more about the person who absence is being lamented in the face of these marvels that the speaker here is recounting.
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  #4  
Unread 05-19-2019, 02:15 PM
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is online now
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I also had an issue with "vaudeville"—do you pronounce it with three syllables across the pond? It's only two in the states.

Line nine is a real weak point. First, because it's a doubling up of clichés, diminishing the felt "fear of what they'll find", which said enough on its own. Second, because it comes right where I'm expecting the volta. It should be an especially charged moment; instead it thuds. I'd cut it and expand the remainder of the sestet by a line.

Other than that, this is a solid poem, with a strong ending, although you've written better in the past and will write better in the future.
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  #5  
Unread 05-19-2019, 02:46 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi Mark,

So, in the first quatrain, the N is thinking of someone who's dead, I think, a grandparent of the kids', perhaps, who is missing out on enjoying the kids playing. Then he thinks of how he will be gone too, one day, and who knows when. He spends the evening going back and forth between being in the moment with his kids and thinking about death and how his time with them is limited, and as result (somewhat ironically) forgets to wish them goodnight. The message overall being to make the most of them now, while you still can: reflecting on death should hopefully bring us to better appreciate what we have while we still have it.

The poem presents a familiar reflection, perhaps, but one well worth being reminded of, as the poem tells us at the end. Though I wonder if there's a way to freshen some of the metaphors -- the bend in the road ahead, the roll of the dice, the cards we are dealt -- and replace them with something less familiar and/or more tied to the subject at hand. I guess the bend in the road does play off the speeding mind. But maybe the cards and the dice?

I agree with Susan about the parentheses in the last line. I think it would stronger without.

best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 05-19-2019 at 03:13 PM.
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  #6  
Unread 05-19-2019, 03:31 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi folks,

Thank you. I think you've made this better.

Susan - you're right it works better without the parentheses. Thanks.

Ashley - Hi. Nice to meet you. I think 'vaudeville' is a US/UK pronunciation sticking point. It has 3 definite syllables over here and ends on a reasonably stressed one (VAUdeVILLE). But, anyway, it's changed. 'Music hall' is basically British vaudeville. Also changed is the line you thought had six beats (though I didn't think it did). I'm happy with the metre of the opening.

I had the idea that a gaze could 'melt' into a sort of meditative state, so one was almost looking through, rather than at something. And that this could be a way of 'looking closer'. Though again (ha) the line has changed anyway.

The 'you' in the poem is the N referring to themself. I tried it with 'I' and it didn't sound as good.

I realise the poem maybe verges on sentiment, I often stand guilty, but it isn't really 'about' the wonder of kids sleeping. More that the busy mind does everything in its power to make us miss moments like that, or miss the present moment altogether. The details of the poem could be many other examples. Again, not the most revolutionary idea, I accept.

The missing person has had lots of his own poems: he's more of a functional bit player in this one.

Thanks for reading.

Aaron - I thought the cliches might be allowable in a folksy way, maybe, but you (and Matt) are right, I think. I do cross that line sometimes. I took your advice about expanding the sestet. Thanks for the faith in my past and future poems. Ironic, given the theme of this one haha. Cheers.

Hey Matt - We cross-posted with my revision, but I think I've covered most things. I'm glad you think the point of the poem is one worth making, despite its familiarity, and see how this familiarity is acknowledged in the last line. I hope it's a bit stronger now. Your reading is pretty spot-on, except in L7/8 it isn't so much the N death as his fear of what hardships life may throw at the children when they're adults. I'm hoping I've got more than 5 to 10 years left! Yikes.

Thanks all. Revision posted.

Edit: I'm trying it in first person. Coming around to the idea.
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  #7  
Unread 05-20-2019, 02:51 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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Hey Mark~ for sure I need to think about this a bit more, but I don't like "And yet." I do need more time to get my bearings on this. The then and then... forget line jumps out at me. Without the enjambement, just end stopped. Maybe even a possible close? I'll come back.

Last edited by James Brancheau; 05-20-2019 at 02:56 PM.
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  #8  
Unread 05-20-2019, 11:46 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi John - Thanks for coming back. I changed the 'sleeping' line, more for the sense than the metre (it reads as the N addressing himself now) but it might read smoother to you. Cheers.

Hi James - Yes, I can see how the 'forget/yet' rhymes could be switched somehow, with the former as the ending. Interesting. I'll have a think.

I see this isn't coming across as clearly as I'd hoped to a lot of people, or if it is it's not doing much. Ahh well.

Thanks folks
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  #9  
Unread 05-21-2019, 04:27 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi folks,

James got me thinking. I've tinkered with the architecture of the sestet to create a Shakespearean, rather than Petrarchan(ish) sonnet (see how I know stuff!?)

This loses the irony of the N forgetting to say goodnight, but maybe that isn't needed. The poem feels simpler and more direct, which could be a good thing.
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  #10  
Unread 05-21-2019, 06:50 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Mark,

I prefer your new ending - glad to see that closing "and yet" out of there. I wouldn't lay out your Shakespearean sonnet as octave and sestet, though - for me, it's three quatrains and a closing couplet, and that's hidden by your formatting.

Cheers,
John
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