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Old 05-29-2001, 06:30 PM
Tim Murphy Tim Murphy is offline
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Caleb has had the great good sense to introduce our own Alicia to "Mastery." See poems from contemporary masters??? Next week Alicia will take up the Lariatship for two weeks in my absence, and for you benighted souls who haven't read Archaic Smile, here's another of her sonnets, the final poem in this stunning first collection.

Night Shift

Two a.m. The freight train files its grievance
Into the tall cabinet of the night.
Beyond the street lamps, stars grow recondite.
The insomniac is listening to distance
Shifting register, a kind of sorrow.
The train is keening in concatenations,
"It is too late. It's already tomorrow--
Even when nothing happens, time is ever
Ticking down the track between two stations."
The hours are numbered, and then they elide.
The sick child is tossing in her fever,
The bridegroom turns him from the bride.
The insomniac turns the cool, white page. The lover
Turns the pillow to the cooler side.
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Old 05-30-2001, 08:30 AM
Richard Wakefield Richard Wakefield is offline
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What a splendid selection. Am I alone in hearing a rather distant echo of Whitman in that series of parallel lines / parallel images at the end? And of course there's the very train-like effect of the repetition, and the suggestion of all the scenes linked by the train's passage. That very strange and very assured opening image ("The freight train files its grievance / Into the tall cabinet of the night") is masterful.
Richard
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Old 05-30-2001, 11:07 PM
robert mezey robert mezey is offline
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Terrific poem. I just bought ARCHAIC SMILE and
look forward to it keenly and in expectation of
a lot of pleasure. Of course there's an echo of
Whitman---a particularly lovely one. Lots of
good things; I thought "they elide" a sweet bit
of wit. And the lines move well. My only little
quibble probably isn't much more than a personal
idiosyncracy: I think one should be fairly sparing
with headless lines. Chaucer of course has lots of
them, but considering that he probably invented our
gorgeous meter, we mustn't carp---his poetic license
allows him to do anything, even drive drunk.
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Old 06-05-2001, 01:02 PM
A. E. Stallings A. E. Stallings is offline
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Thanks Tim for posting this. I'm honored.

And thank you Richard and Robert so much for your kind words. They are especially appreciated since this is one of the most recent poems in the collection, and in fact I never got around to sending it to journals. So I never had any real external confirmation. (Nevertheless, for some reason, closed the book on it!) It is nice to know it is not a disaster.

Robert, bless you for buying a copy of the book. (Though I fear it is haunted with many a headless line...)

thanks again,

Alicia
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Old 06-10-2001, 09:43 AM
Terese Coe Terese Coe is offline
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Oh, so fine! Thanks Alicia and also Tim for posting it. I'd call it "ethereal" but the word seems to have lost so much of its honor of late.

Question "The bridegroom turns him..."

Why "him"?

Terese
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Old 06-10-2001, 11:44 AM
A. E. Stallings A. E. Stallings is offline
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Thanks Terese for your kind comments.

I liked the archaic flavor of "turns him" (and indeed of "bridegroom" instead of just groom). Grammatically, I'd call it a middle verb, if such a thing exists in English. (I think it would have to be "himself" to be properly reflexive). Rather like "now I lay me down to sleep," a phrase I have always loved.

Good question!

Alicia

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Old 06-28-2001, 04:15 AM
Solan Solan is offline
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This one got too complicated for me: I try to dig out the meter to learn from in the poems I read here, but with no success in this case. Could anyone spell out or name the meter?

[OK, I didn't get the rhyming scheme, either.]

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Svein Olav
http://nonserviam.com/solan/
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Old 06-28-2001, 12:14 PM
robert mezey robert mezey is offline
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It's not very complicated, Solan. It's a sonnet,
and like almost all good sonnets, it's 14 lines
of iambic pentameter. The rhyme scheme is irregular:
it looks like it will be an Italian sonnet, starting
ABBA, but then it goes off on its own; every line
rhymes but in no particular pattern. The meter is
strict (though four headless lines are perhaps a bit
many for one sonnet). There are two somewhat unusual
(but perfectly permissible) lines, one lacking a
syllable---I guess you could call it a headless iamb
(ha ha)---and one that ends with two anapests. You
should be able to find these; if not, let me know.
(The use of two anapests in place of three iambs was
at one time unheard of; the first example of it I know
can be found in PARADISE LOST, where Milton writes,
"Burnt after them to the bottomless pit." But Frost
took it up as a variation---in the last two dozen lines
of "A Servant to Servants" there are five or six such
lines! It's a variation to be used rarely, but it can
be beautiful, as it is in Alicia's sonnet.) I hope that
clarifies things for you.

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Old 06-28-2001, 05:52 PM
Tim Murphy Tim Murphy is offline
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Solan, I too hope that clarifies things, and let Professor Mezey's answer serve for the question you've posed on the Lariat board. I'm sure that Bob would agree with me that the best way to accustom your ear to what works is the memorization, or at least the reading aloud, of great poetry. If you want to study an exhaustive analysis of variation in the English line, read Tim Steele's new prosody manual, All The Fun's In How You Say A Thing, from Ohio University Press.
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Old 06-29-2001, 01:35 AM
Solan Solan is offline
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Thank you, Tim. Steele's book should arrive from Amazon in two weeks or so.

Robert: My understanding of meter so far is very simplistic. I know iamb, trochee and anapest, but my first act when trying to flesh out the meter is to count syllables. I reason that iambic pentameter means 2 x 5 = 10 syllables, for instance. But I was thrown off already at that stage, because the syllable length of the lines seemed to me to vary. I counted L13 as having 13 syllables, and L14 as having 9. So my problem lies at what is perhaps an even more elemental plane.

If I understand the response, I should not be counting syllables, but feet: Headless iamb means 9 syllables instead of 10, right? I might also have counted the syllables wrong, of course.


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Svein Olav
http://nonserviam.com/solan/
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