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  #1  
Unread 03-09-2021, 11:38 AM
David Callin David Callin is offline
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Default Permission to travel

On the imagined balcony we sit at a table
where bread has been brought, and honey, and frothing milk.
It is warm already, and Greek
rises like steam from the seething street below.

The sun is moving across the tiles,
awakening each row in turn
as though they were the plains of Thessaly.
We yawn and pour the coffee,

and wonder what saint’s cave,
what god’s birthplace or tamarisk-shaded gorge
our rented car will take us to today,
before returning to sit under a large plane tree

where we will speak Greek very badly,
but not so badly
that the effort is resented.
We will take a little tsikoudia before turning in

and we will dream
of sailing to Gramvousa,
how on the boat back we’ll observe
the White Mountains nodding in the moonlight.
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  #2  
Unread 03-10-2021, 07:08 AM
Joe Crocker Joe Crocker is online now
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Hi David

The title and the “imagined” in the first line seem to be a nod to current lockdown conditions The narrator is dreaming about a holiday in Greece. But it feels more like a wistful recollection of an earlier visit rather than an “imagined” one. So it’s a yearning to re-visit an already familiar place.

I’m not sure you need to specify “Greek” as the language heard in L3. The narrator already knows that its Greek and it seems a heavy-handed way of telling the reader where we are. The location becomes clearer as we proceed, with place names etc. I don’t think you need to signal it from the start.

I don’t know the places mentioned, Or the vegetation or the liqueur. But perhaps that doesn’t matter. (Perhaps they are imagined). The names in themselves give a sense of a world I’d enjoy visiting. (On second thoughts, if the names were all completely imagined/imaginary I think I would enjoy it more!)

And back at your lodgings where you are speaking bad Greek. That, might be imagined, but would you also imagine the detail that the locals didn’t mind your inexpert attempts. Again, that sounds more like reminiscence. But that may just be me having a poor imagination

I do like the last line with the nodding mountains. It captures nicely your journey back on a boat on a bobbing sea.

Last edited by Joe Crocker; 03-10-2021 at 07:22 AM.
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  #3  
Unread 03-10-2021, 12:43 PM
David Callin David Callin is offline
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Hi Joe. Thanks for that. I think you're pretty much spot on with your comments. I'm not sure I would need to correct any of your impressions of what the poem is about and where it's come from.

Specifically, it's Crete, mainly, but with lots of other Greek memories and experiences thrown in. But, in another sense, you're right about this too: it comes from being stuck in lockdown, and pining for the Aegean (which is a notch or two up on the fjords).

I am looking forward to a holiday like this. I suppose we all are.

Cheers

David
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Unread 03-14-2021, 10:20 AM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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I think the idea of the mountain nodding in the moonlight is intended to capture the moon shadows going over it or a change of perspective that gives a nodding effect? I like that but it does take a bit of pondering. When I first read it, it struck me as too-too. Mountains don't nod. If I'm correct about the shadows can that be suggested earlier--a little scene-setting? I like the poem but for me, the similes in S1 and S2 are a stretch too far. Steaming Greek and floor tiles awakening to being plains of Thessaly both seem like they are abbreviated metaphysical conceits. That is more true of the second. Beyond that, it is a nice poem about euphoric recall in a time of stress. I suppose knowing that should cast it into a milkier light. Um. Enjoyed.

Best
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  #5  
Unread 03-14-2021, 11:41 AM
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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Love it. Every word. As is. (Except maybe “badly.” Try the Pimsleur language approach that teaches pronunciation from the word end and works forward. Pimsleur.) Nodding mountains is sublime. Crete is a very special place. One of three or four for me.
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  #6  
Unread 03-15-2021, 03:56 AM
David Callin David Callin is offline
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Thanks Allen. I appreciate that - very much. Crete is very special, I agree.

I have never heard of Pimsleur, so I'll take a look at that.

I'm glad you liked the nodding. I think I can see (at least) three meanings of the word, where it is, but I may be miscounting.

Cheers

David
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Unread 03-15-2021, 09:42 AM
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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In my opinion the Pimsleur spoken language approach is by far the best. Forget Rosetta Stone etc etc etc etc, which are all over hyped and don’t measure up to their claims which are often bolstered with cutesy pictures as vocabulary builders. Bull shit !! Pimsleur is wholly auditory apart from some later vocabulary lists. Pronunciation of polysyllables is introduced progressing from the last syllables forward, with practice, one syllable at a time, by native speakers. Short realistic conversations are introduced that correspond to common situational needs, including very mild flirtation on occasion. Travel needs are included. The vocabulary range is limited but well chosen. We felt that if modern Greek could be seen as a wall, the Pimsleur results were like somewhat narrow but extremely effective loopholes all the way through the wall. Loopholes big enough to enlarge by our own efforts; loopholes big enough to let salads pass though, gasoline purchases be effortless; hospitals be located, and just about everything one needs for a fast Olympic start. Pimsleur programs are language acquisition done by people who are language people, not faked up corporate crap.

Last edited by Allen Tice; 03-15-2021 at 09:44 AM.
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Unread 03-15-2021, 09:54 AM
David Callin David Callin is offline
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I relied on a BBC language course from 1983. (I first went in 1985.) Still looks pretty good to me, and with lots of footage of (relatively) unspoiled Greece. Here's an example - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxCy64Neh5s

I'm intrigued by Pimsleur, though, and will follow that up.

"Very mild flirtation on occasion" ... then all my language needs are catered for.
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  #9  
Unread 03-15-2021, 02:46 PM
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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Prices as quoted on the Internet link I found for Pimsleur are very much higher than formerly. Try a resale site like eBay. We got a set of eight CDs that were not unreasonably priced then, and spent some weeks working with them. All audio. A bit like school. Very much worth it. Kali taxidi! (KAHlee tocksEEdee.)

Last edited by Allen Tice; 03-15-2021 at 02:57 PM.
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  #10  
Unread 03-15-2021, 03:17 PM
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Jane Crowson Jane Crowson is offline
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Hi David,

I like much of this - it's a lovely, evocative description of a place that the narrator & their companion clearly know well and remember fondly. It's a nice travelogue, full of picture-book description and visual imagery. I'd love to read a few more scents and tactile elements in there, but that's just me.

I think the formative comment I'd offer is that the title suggests that this is a lockdown poem, and I'd consider moving away from that. For me, it adds little to the poem, which speaks to me more as a straightforward remembrance/reminiscence and works well on those terms. Once you start introducing lockdown, it becomes political, placed on a continuum of fragility, in a way. And not getting a holiday in is probably the least of many people's worries, so you may risk more than you gain & alienate some readers before they start, which would be such a shame for a lovely postcard of a poem!

Sarah-Jane
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