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  #21  
Unread 08-25-2019, 08:18 PM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Kemper View Post
Allen, you're absolutely right: these are two separate poems. And I did think of them that way, but I did not exactly post them that way. Each could sort of stand alone, but I *think* there's a net effect when they're juxtaposed. Yes, maybe part of a cycle. Or series. Or a Vita Nuova...
Or a Petrarch: Rime sparse ("Scattered rhymes")
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  #22  
Unread 08-25-2019, 11:43 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Daniel, I like the poignant rondeau. I suspect that the narrator's assessment of the situation is flawed, but I can empathize his very honest and understandable pain.

I don't care for the sonnet at all. Its position right after the more spare and eloquent rondeau makes the female narrator look like a shallow chatterbox, even while she's not saying a word. She's a self-centered jerk in the rondeau, and she's still a self-centered jerk in the sonnet--just in a different way than the male narrator of the rondeau had thought. But the difference isn't dramatic enough to justify all the extra verbiage, in my opinion.

My negative reaction to the sonnet detracted considerably from my positive experience of the rondeau.

Just one person's opinion, of course.
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  #23  
Unread 08-26-2019, 08:07 AM
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Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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Julie, oh no!

I have been hoping for your take on this for some time. I'm going out on a limb with the voice of the sonnet. I didn't think the female looked like a chatterbox at all-- and that was not my intent. My intent was to show that she'd observed all his efforts, but interpreted them in an entirely different way than had ever crossed his mind. In retrospect, I did think the sparser rondeau highlighted the typically masculine and the more relaxed sonnet highlighted the typically feminine.

He only perceives himself as passionate, creative, detail-oriented; she perceives his excesses as insecurity, as trying too hard.

She wants him to engage her on these kinds of things so she is doing what she thinks is the most matter-of-fact way to initiate discussion with him: read something in front of him that in her mind she clearly couldn't be interested in (and so clearly couldn't really be reading) and so is clearly placing herself in his attention so he'll start speaking with her.

She thinks that for him to miss the obvious invitation indicates some obvious conclusions he must have drawn about her character. He must think she's really interested in artifice. Wrong conclusions. Frustrating conclusions.

Or else he's ignoring her intentionally, which would be an act of retribution for women, but she can't fathom anything that she's done wrong which would merit such a reaction. So that's her trying to engage him in some sort of resolution to an obvious disconnect.

Back to the main: Her provisional solution to the discomfort she feels from his over-indulgences, since she sees them as his insecurity, it to positively re-inforce his efforts, to praise them excessively.

She's not self-centered at all: she's submerging her discomfort in an effort to re-assure him. She's taking on the burden to improve the relationship for the both of them. (Of course the man in the rondeau thinks he's taking on the burden as well...)

Irony being what it is, he only perceives her efforts as loving the gifts but not the giver. She's actually trying to care more excessively for him. What you say about the flaws in the rondeau-narrator's assessment is exactly what I'm trying to point up in the sonnet. He really thinks she only loves the gifts. He's rather self-absorbed in his suffering about that.

In sum, each one loves the other, but both are equally insecure and in trying to overcompensate, each is distancing the other. He doesn't get why his gifts don't better lead to closeness; she doesn't get why her over-appreciation for his gifts doesn't make him more confident about their bond.
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  #24  
Unread 08-26-2019, 08:36 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi Daniel,

I'm sure you didn't deliberately intend the effect, but I can see what Julie is saying here. The tone of the rondeau is wistful and elegantly melancholic, while the sonnet is full of judgment and lots of questions that give it a slightly hysterical feel. And there's no real 'turn', she just keeps analysing and complaining. It could be just that the two forms are a mismatch here. I do quite like the 'two sides of the story' idea. I wonder if you could do both using the same form?
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  #25  
Unread 08-26-2019, 10:17 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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[Cross-posted with Daniel and Mark]

For me, the poem is better with the sonnet (i.e., for giving the other side, rather than specifically that form). For me what the sonnet adds is that it shows what's lacking here is communication on both sides. It also shows the nature of the dynamic they're caught in. Rather than talk to her, or be emotionally available to her, it seems, he gives her things in lieu of giving more of himself. The rondeau, on its own, shows us the stereotype of men as emotionally-inarticulate providers. And what he provides seems to buy into a certain (upper/middle class?) romantic stereotype: what he thinks she (and women, generally) want -- fine wines, romantic 'moments' not to mention a bracelet in a box of chocolates. I'm guessing, he never actually asks her what she really wants and is interested in. (That seems to be further shown in the sonnet, when it appears that he's bought her a fashion magazine not knowing she's not that interested in fashion). She, as a unique being, is overlooked. And ironically, part of what she seems to want is to be asked what she wants, how she is, to be noticed. He offers things rather than himself, and thinks, as a consequence, that she only appreciates things, and not him.

Now she, similarly doesn't talk to him about what she wants. That's the symmetry here. She appreciates, I think, why he gives her things, what he's trying to show, and so shows appreciation of the gifts, but like him, she wants something deeper than a gift-exchange. And like him, she seems unable to talk about her needs and feelings or address the issue head-on, if at all. She wants him to be bold, but won't be herself. They treasure each other, but can't find ways to effectively communicate that.

Now here's her bind, I think: If she praises the gifts, he takes this as further evidence that she loves the gifts and not him (and withdraws). But she also knows that the gifts are his way of trying to say he loves her (or whoever he imagines her to be, because it doesn't sound like he's made too much effort to find out). Presumably, if she instead doesn't show appreciation of the gifts, since these are tokens of his love, he'll also take this as a lack of love, a rejection of him.

I imagine what happens to these two is that they carry on as before, each waiting for the other the other engage an act of mind-reading. Hopefully they'll see a relationship therapist who'll knock their heads together (in a caring compassionate manner, of course) before the relationship breaks down irretrievably.

I like the symmetry and the dynamic, but overall, I do find myself a little frustrated with both of them, and wonder if perhaps they're a little overdone as characters, a little too dysfunctional, a little hard to believe. Why doesn't she just say something. She seems to have worked out why he offers the gifts -- to show his love, something that he's possibly insecure about, but somehow can't guess what response would be helpful here: an appreciation of him, and her love for him, rather than even more appreciation of the gifts. Possibly it's easier for her to say: "I love you, you don't need to prove anything with gifts, but I would like you to take more interest in who I am and what I want and need" than it is for him to risk everything by asking if she really loves him and have to deal with the answer if it's "no". But still, why doesn't he say something, talk to her, make some effort find out what she really wants rather than just treat her as a romantic stereotype; why can't he express his feelings, his needs, discuss what he thinks is lacking in relationship? Why doesn't he work out that giving her more things won't make move things forward and won't make him happy, how ever much or little appreciation she shows for his gifts.

"fashion-forward shrew" seems a bit of an odd wording, and 'shrew' (with its Shakespearean overtones of nagging etc), seems rhyme-driven and not supported shown by the rest of the poem. Though I guess you can argue for shrew as mousiness, timidity, though I don't know that that's really show by the poem either.

-Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 08-26-2019 at 11:00 AM.
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  #26  
Unread 08-26-2019, 10:57 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Daniel,

Interesting discussion, continuing the one begun in your pair of poems. I'm kind of reminded of this scene from White Men Can't Jump: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajBHZKoKYbU

Cheers,
John
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  #27  
Unread 08-26-2019, 11:09 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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I thought of this Larkin, inevitably. As so often, grumpy Phil seems to have the definitive word. From his reality, at least. I always find the ending fairly devastating.

Talking in Bed

Talking in bed ought to be easiest,
Lying together there goes back so far,
An emblem of two people being honest.
Yet more and more time passes silently.
Outside, the wind's incomplete unrest
Builds and disperses clouds in the sky,
And dark towns heap up on the horizon.
None of this cares for us. Nothing shows why
At this unique distance from isolation
It becomes still more difficult to find
Words at once true and kind,
Or not untrue and not unkind.
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  #28  
Unread 08-26-2019, 11:17 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Or as Billy Bragg put it,

"The most important decisions in life
Are made between two people in bed."

Cheers,
John
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  #29  
Unread 08-26-2019, 11:19 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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I was more reminded of this, by Stewart Lee. He's sending up observational comedy, but it's the punchline at about 1 minute 30 seconds in that seemed relevant here.
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  #30  
Unread 08-26-2019, 11:29 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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"If only we could ask them". Ha! Yes, thanks for that Matt. I do love Mr Lee. I've seen him three times now, because he's kind enough to make an annual visit to the Buxton Opera House, which is just up the road, over a moor.
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