Eratosphere Forums - Metrical Poetry, Free Verse, Fiction, Art, Critique, Discussions Able Muse - a review of poetry, prose and art

Forum Left Top

Notices

Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Unread 05-11-2019, 05:27 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is online now
Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,612
Default Necromancy

Revision 1

Shadow Theatre

Shao-weng began the festivities by announcing
.....he could summon spirits.

Now Emperor Wu paces behind a curtain,
.....killing Time with hope.

Then the mage places the sea-carved jade
.....inside the magic lantern.

They watch, beyond the silk, a shadow surge
.....that moves like Lady Li:

The undulations of the darkness seem one
.....with the drapery,

and Wu sees in it too the Silver Stream
.....of Heaven ever flowing.

He becomes for just a moment the Herdsman,
.....and she his Weaver Girl.

How did Shao-weng lead the Lady out
.....of Death’s domain?

How can the king imagine anything
.....except that moment when

he stood among the April cherry blossoms
.....that had no thought of fruit?

Original
Shadow Theatre

Shao-weng began the festivities by announcing
.....that he could summon spirits.

Now Emperor Wu paces behind a curtain,
.....killing Time with hope.

Then the mage places the sea-carved jade
.....inside the magic lantern.

Behind the silk a shadow surges
.....which moves like Lady Li:

The undulations of the darkness seem
.....one with the drapery,

and he sees in it too the Silver Stream
.....of Heaven ever flowing.

He becomes for just a moment the Herdsman,
.....and she’s his Weaver Girl.

How did Shao-weng lead the Lady out
.....of Death’s domain?

How can the king imagine anything
.....except that feeling when

you stand among the April cherry blossoms
.....that have no thought of fruit?

Last edited by Andrew Szilvasy; 05-18-2019 at 08:39 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Unread 05-11-2019, 05:49 PM
Mary Meriam's Avatar
Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: usa
Posts: 7,220
Default

How amazing to read this just after seeing the video here. This is terrific, Andrew. My only hesitation is in the penultimate couplet:

How can the king imagine anything
.....except that feeling when

Is it too abstract? It's the only couplet without strong imagery.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Unread 05-12-2019, 07:30 AM
Aaron Novick's Avatar
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Posts: 1,699
Default

Yes, this is excellent. I see Mary's point about the penultimate couplet, and you might play around with it, but even as is, it sets up the final stanza's stunning image well, so I'm not too bothered by it.

A winner, this one.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Unread 05-12-2019, 07:53 AM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is online now
Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,612
Default

Hi Mary and Aaron,

I'm glad this one is working. The piece is 3+ years old and that final image was the first final ending I thought I nailed as a writer.

But the beginning languished. I gave the poem a thorough revision a few days ago. That penultimate couplet was the place I struggled the most. I'm going to tinker to see if I can get an image.

Thanks!
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Unread 05-13-2019, 05:47 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 3,951
Default

Hi Andrew,

I like this too. It is crisp and mysterious, good things for poetry to be.
How would putting your opening couplet in the present tense work? I was a tad thrown by the shift from past to present in couplet two, and not sure you need it.

Cheers,
John
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Unread 05-13-2019, 04:54 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is online now
Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,612
Default

John,

Thanks for the feedback. I like the past there to suggest time has past.

Would the past perfect work? Or is that just too confusing? (I'm not sure I like it, but I'd toy with it.)
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Unread 05-14-2019, 01:43 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 3,951
Default

Hi Andrew,

Well, if you like it, then of course feel free to go with your gut not with mine. But here's my argument. This is, I assume, the same set of festivities the main narrative is set in; whereas the summoned dead are from a period contrasted with that. I think your opening past tense loses or blurs that sharp contrast, which I find unfortunate. It doesn't really matter whether the festivities began minutes or hours ago; they continue, and that irrelevant point (hey, it's been hours since we started to party) distracts from your whole premise regarding the dead, which is I think a very good one. If you'd started, "So-and-so died ...," I could see keeping the past tense. You don't do that. And even in that case, where it supported instead of concealing your contrast, I'd find the tense shift lopsided (a single stanza) and a bit heavy-handed. I find a sustained present here more elegant, more tactful, more true to your telling. My 2c, but that is all they are.
A good tip I got recently is find the core point of your poem and remove everything which doesn't directly contribute to it.

Cheers,
John
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Unread 05-14-2019, 07:44 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 2,016
Default

x
From my first read I found the imagery and especially the final image of cherry blossoms intriguing. I hadn't noticed the title at first but once I did things began to fall into place (with a little googling).

Necromancy is a new word for me. I've always been fascinated by those who pose as conduits to/for the dead. Shadow puppetry is very much an echo of the past to my eyes.

I have used a shadow screen/shadow puppetry in my work with children on stage. We opened our performance of Lion King with a procession of animals arriving at Pride Rock to celebrate the birth of Simba from behind a shadow screen. It was awesome. So much so the rest of the performance bogged down and was something of a long, drawn-out anticlimax to the opening visual spectacle.

I like the style: vignettes in couplets. The language is ekphrastic and precise. The questioning at the end creates a wondrous, riddle-like feel to the final couplet.

Nice writing Andrew.
x
x

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 05-14-2019 at 09:20 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Unread 05-14-2019, 10:22 AM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is online now
Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,612
Default

John,

Thanks for coming back and giving me detailed reasoning. It's given me some food for thought.

Jim,

I'm glad the piece is working for you and I like the language you use to describe how the piece is working. That's what I was going for.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Unread 05-14-2019, 12:59 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 3,951
Default

Hi Andrew,

Just a quick note to reiterate my liking and respect for this work of yours. I'm just niggling as one does with the tenses in that couplet.

Cheers,
John
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



Forum Right Top
Forum Left Bottom Forum Right Bottom
 
Right Left
Member Login
Forgot password?
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Statistics:
Forum Members: 7,976
Total Threads: 19,616
Total Posts: 251,132
There are 92 users
currently browsing forums.
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Sponsor:
Donate & Support Able Muse / Eratosphere
Forum LeftForum Right
Right Right
Right Bottom Left Right Bottom Right

Hosted by ApplauZ Online