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Old 07-09-2018, 04:21 PM
Patrick Murtha Patrick Murtha is offline
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Kansas
Posts: 217

Jayne, while I do like the double "light," I am going to follow the advice of the more experienced members here. I switched out one of the lights for glow. We'll see if it works.

The extra syllable in the last line has been bugging me too, but I am going to take "shows" on advisement. I want the idea of revealing, unveiling, etc.

Michael, thank you for the compliments, particularly to the connection to Herbert and Donne. (They are not my ideal poets, but they are not shabby. To follow, even somewhat, in their footsteps, is not nothing.)

In S2 L1, no comma. The "that" in the next line is a relative pronoun to "them" and the clause is restrictive. I think what may be confusing is the use of the word "home" as a verb--as in "to make a home." Regarding the missing foot, you are correct. I don't know how I missed that.

The pane is indeed a pun for "pain" as well as a metaphor for "their faces." And I think you are right also about the title--Pariah alone.

Thank you for the Bach. My knowledge of Bach is so limited.

Ralph, thanks. I will ponder the "far in my younger years." It is true that "far" is awkward. I had another term--I forget which--in its place earlier, but then I went with "far" because it was better than what I had had.

Mark, I am sorry that it is not working for you. It is good to know that. I will take a closer look to see if I can add some spunk. As for falling asleep with so short a poem, are you being overworked? (I jest.) There is no intent on my side to establish any metaphor for rejection by a divine being. It is really about the lose of friendship due to one's own blundering. It is one of my few poems that I pull from a personal experience.

Jan, as I said to mark above, I will look to "invest" some feeling into it. But I thank you for this remark.

Aaron P., I always look forward to your line-by-line commentary. You are a tough critic, but it is much appreciated. I see what your saying in each of your points. The coffee stays. This is one thing that will not go. The garden idea seems too cliche--I cannot believe I just wrote that! Over the next day or so, I will revise.

But you do mistake Kansas. It is not so bad. You should come over some time. (How about in September? We have our Shakespeare Festival--The Merchant of Venice. It is far more polished and draws a much larger crowd than the sonnet contest.)

David, the Job reference comes from the narrator's cause of guilt is himself. He cannot defend himself because he is the fault. I don't know if it plays well into each other. But that quote, which I had read at the time, sparked the poem. So I've kept the two together.

Edward, thank you. S1, L3: "They freed their cares for me" is to mean that they put aside their own worries to make the narrator feel at ease and carefree. With regards to the slogging, I tend to like it. It gives the sense of being heavy-footed. I will definitely consider the "future hour," though I find it somewhat likeable.


Last edited by Patrick Murtha; 07-09-2018 at 04:27 PM.
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Old 07-09-2018, 05:00 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Join Date: May 2016
Location: England
Posts: 2,342

Hey Patrick,

I apologise for my line about finding it hard to stay awake. I get carried away when I crit sometimes and allow the line between humour and rudeness to blur. Sorry. I've read this several times now and remained conscious! And I am overworked, yes.

It's interesting that you say this is drawn from life. It does make me stand firmer in my other crits. It doesn't feel like real life to me.
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Old 07-09-2018, 05:35 PM
Patrick Murtha Patrick Murtha is offline
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Kansas
Posts: 217

Mark, no need to apologise (apologize). It sent home the critique, and I found it not rude. If it had been, I might have thrown a tantrum. Only so much is drawn from personal experience. Nevertheless, I posted a slight revision, which, I fear, has not answered your crits. I will try to get more heart-felt into it.

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Old 07-09-2018, 08:16 PM
R. Nemo Hill's Avatar
R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is offline
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Location: Halcott, New York
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It really doesn't feel like real life, Patrick. There are so many artificially literary layers that life seems lost beneath them, scarcely excavatable. It's not that it's a particularly bad poem, but that it is bloodless.

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Old 07-10-2018, 03:28 AM
John Riley John Riley is offline
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 3,936

To me, this type poem is the reason free verse has become dominant. It is layered with artificiality in an artful way and isn't alive. If you take them at their word, these type poems being so prevalent convinced the Modernists to do something radical to bring poetry back to life.
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Old 07-10-2018, 07:18 AM
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Michael F Michael F is offline
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Location: a foothill of the Catskills
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Hi Patrick,

‘Home’ as a verb, of course. That was dull of me to miss, thanks.

Some unsolicited advice from someone who feels older: first, don’t be too quick to revise. Give yourself time to take in and weigh what people have said. Second, reveal yourself more. I want some hint at what you’ve done or been that causes the hurt. I am curious. Maybe not in this poem, but maybe in another, maybe in one adjacent. Finally, keep working on the diction -- study poets like Frost and Bishop, maybe Auden and Wilbur, and some poets around here -- modern poets who write in form with such apparent ‘ease’.

That’s my advice. Price refundable.
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Old 07-12-2018, 04:07 PM
Erik Olson Erik Olson is online now
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Location: Portland, OR
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I fancy the distinct music of a broad range of registers, formal to colloquial. I welcome an opportunity to add variety to my readings. This showed promising features but ultimately disappointed me, however. I did appreciate the elegance of constructions, as ‘shards of laughter,’ and the harmony of cadences. But I agree that some life is missing; further, the lack of which is fatal. In consequence, the otherwise fluently inhabited idiom appears more mannered. I can scarcely detect the anguish such as I would expect from one cast out by his former host from the hearth of home to a ditch. Where is the urgency and distress in the voice?
I approve the change to the third verse: ‘Guest’ and ‘brother’ is enough. I have little doubt that you could do better than rhyme ‘there’ with ‘there,’ which is why I presume to urge it. Likewise for rhyming ‘cause’ with ‘cause’ and ‘light’ with the same.
But I have lost myself to all
That home within that house. I watch
improves very little over the original:
But I have lost myself to them,
That home within that house. I watch
Yet I like neither; sorry. I am uncertain about ‘home within that house’. It is appropriate to amplify where the narrator reflects on the home he has lost. While this turn here is neat, I am afraid it does not serve to enhance the emotion for me. I reckon Techne should be ideally marshaled in the service of Mimesis, such as a metaphor to impress some sentiment with more force as due. But here, it ornaments the surface instead. This is an example of many. I think
For I, Pariah, am condemned
To slog these streets alone, and snatch
is not improved upon by your replacement:
A life that I yet fondly recall
As now I slog these streets and snatch
Is ‘yet’ not a bit filler-ish? I think the original admits more of what this poem lacks, emotional potency. I suppose condemned is mostly why, but I am not crazy about the original either. I venture that fond here belies the bitterness towards those who rejected the narrator, sorrow for what he lost, and despair at what he can no more recover.

My favorite epithet is ‘shard of laughter.’ This rhetorical flourish, the apt paradox, does amplify the sense of the pained condition of the narrator. It depicts the embittered perspective such an outcast would easily be believed to have. It makes good sense all around.

The last stanza sounds too comfortable and collected for one so wretchedly condemned; more like a man reflecting in his easy chair than an outcast in the gutter. Or that was my impression at any rate. I cannot tell how to remedy it exactly.

I enjoyed some features of this, some technical proficiency is in evidence and that encouraging to see. But, alas, the portrait wants the semblance of life, which it is fatal to want. I indeed almost had to remind myself that it was an outcast I was reading about.


Last edited by Erik Olson; 07-13-2018 at 12:15 AM.
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Old 07-13-2018, 10:47 AM
Patrick Murtha Patrick Murtha is offline
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Kansas
Posts: 217

Nemo and John, I hear you that there is a lack of life. I will work on adding some "blood" to the bones. Thank you.

Michael, I appreciate your advice on revisions. They are wise words. Have you heard Alan Sherman's song "Good Advice." There is a line in it--"Good advice costs nothing and it's worth the price!"

Erik, Thank you for the in-depth analysis. I work on the emotional up-tick, and re-look at the lines you particularly commented about.

Now the common consensus is laid out--lack of life--, we can let this sink into oblivion while I ponder and work on this piece.

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Old 07-13-2018, 11:44 AM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Location: San Diego, CA, USA
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[Edited to say: Sorry, Patrick, we cross-posted, so I missed your request to let this sink into oblivion.]

For me, the poem's most serious problem is that both physics and human nature seem stacked against the closing scenario. Even if the narrator is standing directly in, rather than behind, the streetlight outside the window, it's hard for me to understand how he can be reflected in any detail on the glass of a window that is illuminated from the other side. And that's with or without the occupants of the house seeing this creeper and calling the cops on him.

That didn't seem to bother anyone else, though, so maybe that's just me.

With the epigraph, I think you should either:

a.) switch to a translation that uses "it" in the second half, rather than the extremely distracting and misleading "he," which implies an external judge rather than the self-incrimination you seem to be going for, since there's no contact with anyone else in the poem; or
b.) shorten it to just “If I would justify myself, my own mouth shall condemn me” (Job 9:20a); or
c.) get rid of it entirely.

Personally, I would vote for c.). The passage may have sparked the poem, but so what? Its presence just makes me think, "Okay, the poem begins with a quotation of Job self-flagellating, so I guess it's bound to be a downer. Do I want to keep reading?"

Not that there's anything wrong with poems that are downers. Most of mine are. But as I reader, I prefer to discover a poem's downer-ness for myself, after I have been given cause to care about the feelings of a particular narrator. Here, the downer-ness is pre-advertised by both that and the title.

Speaking of the title, that would be much better simply as "The Pariah," rather than as "I, the Pariah." I don't see any advantage to underscoring the "I" in such an emphatic way, unless it is your express intention to make the narrator seem self-aggrandizing--an impression reinforced by his seemingly equating his own situation to Job's via the epigraph.

The word "owed" in L2 is not doing the tone any favors. It's hard to buy the idea that the narrator looks back with poignant longing on the relationship he enjoyed in that house, if the first emotion he actually shares with us about that relationship is obligation. Obligation is not a particularly dramatic, passionate feeling, and I think that the prominence you've given to the word "owed" in L2 is setting the anemic tone of the whole poem.

I hope something in here is helpful.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 07-13-2018 at 11:59 AM.
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