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Old 08-05-2018, 11:21 AM
Ann Drysdale's Avatar
Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is offline
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Revision 2.

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It took me back, the talk of Salisbury,
to a bright morning in the V&A
and my first vision of the little picture,
John Constable’s Cathedral from the Close
glittering like a jewel on the wall.
Now, through a parting in the canvas weave
I’m flying effortlessly into it
over the Avon and the water meadows.

The intervening miles, ideas and years
are arc-sparks spinning from the piercing eye
that drills through centuries, through the cathedral
into the buzz of a late winter evening.
Traffic and laughter, now and then a shriek
from a bright knot of teetering jailbait
half-balancing on impossible heels.
Gasps of delight, murmurs of disapproval,
the borborygmus of a living city.

A couple walking home. Warm conversation.
Safe steps along a wide suburban street
towards a single well-appointed house.
Their shadows fall across the entrance, dimming
the sparkle that preceded their arrival;
glass splinters in the gravel on the pathway,
a shimmer on the handle of the door.



Revision 1.

Zoom

It took me back, the thought of Salisbury,
to a bright morning in the V&A
and my first vision of the little picture,
John Constable’s Cathedral from the Close
glittering like a jewel on the wall.
Now, through a parting in the canvas weave
I’m flying effortlessly into it
over the Avon and the water meadows.

The intervening miles, ideas and years
are arc-sparks spinning from the piercing eye
that drills through centuries, through the cathedral
into the buzz of a late winter evening.
Traffic and laughter, now and then a shriek
from a bright knot of teetering jailbait
half-balancing on impossible heels.
Gasps of delight, murmurs of disapproval,
the borborygmus of a living city.

A couple walking home. Warm conversation.
Safe steps along a wide suburban street
towards a single well-appointed house.
Their shadows fall across the entrance, dimming
the sparkle that preceded their arrival;
glass splinters in the gravel on the pathway,
a shimmer on the handle of the door.



First version:

Zoom

Two large glass cases at the V&A.
We are standing between them, looking at
John Constable’s Cathedral from the Close
thinking of something tenuously connected
till through a parting in the canvas weave
we’re flying effortlessly into it
over the Avon and the water meadows.

The intervening miles, ideas and years
are arc-sparks spinning from the piercing eye
that drills through centuries, through the cathedral
into the buzz of a late winter evening.
Traffic and laughter, now and then a shriek
from a bright knot of teetering jailbait
half-balancing on impossible heels.
Gasps of delight, murmurs of disapproval,
the borborygmus of a living city.

A couple walking home. Warm conversation.
Safe steps along a wide suburban street
towards a single well-appointed house.
Their shadows fall across the entrance, dimming
the sparkle that preceded their arrival;
splinters of glass half-hidden in the doormat
and something sticky shining on the knob.

Last edited by Ann Drysdale; 08-07-2018 at 10:27 PM. Reason: revision. And again.
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Old 08-05-2018, 11:42 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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For those, like me, unfamiliar with the Victoria and Albert Museum and the featured painting:
http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O8...ohn-constable/

Ann, I am going to read this several more times before commenting. Right now, I’m hung up in the second stanza. The viewers seem to zoom both through space and time (“through centuries”). I assume they go back in time but the “traffic” and jailbait on her “impossible heels” are contemporary.

If I have a son, I will name him “Borborygmus Primus Poochigian”

Love,
Aaron

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 08-05-2018 at 11:44 AM.
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Old 08-05-2018, 12:01 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Ann, I like these lines very much

from a bright knot of teetering jailbait
half-balancing on impossible heels

but no amount of scanning and rescanning can get them into Iambic Pentameters. What are we going to do?
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Old 08-05-2018, 12:20 PM
Aaron Novick's Avatar
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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double iamb / iamb / double iamb
double trochee / trochee / trochee / iamb
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Old 08-05-2018, 12:26 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Thanks, master Novick. Your scansion has proven my point.

I can scan all kinds of prose into ten/eleven-syllable strings of metrical units. That still don't make 'em lines of IP.
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Old 08-05-2018, 12:55 PM
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Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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Is your point something more than retrograde conservativism, though?

As far as I can tell, you think that those lines, though five-beat lines, employ inappropriate substitution patterns, since they are not dominated by traditional* iambs. Given that you like the lines, you can't agree with me that substitutions are justified by their effectsówe agree the effects are good. It must be, rather, that you think there's a general purpose canon of acceptable deviations from ye olde ti-tum-ti-tum. I don't think my scansion supports that point at all.


*I'd dispute your denial that a line with two double iambs and one traditional iamb is properly iambic, but that's not really the issue. The second line is definitely not dominantly iambicóno disagreement there.
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Old 08-05-2018, 01:03 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Dude, you're wrong. Suck it up.
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Old 08-05-2018, 01:19 PM
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Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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Ann, sorry for letting myself get distracted. I like the poem a lot, especially how it never leaves the revelatory vision to return to the museum. Your use of metrical variations is excellent and expressive throughout.

I do think it takes a while to get off the ground. The second line, in particular, is a weak point: "looking at" is drab and gives you a bleh enjambment to boot. I think you should find a way to describe how you're looking, maybe something that hints at your mind being elsewhere (as L4 confirms).
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Old 08-05-2018, 01:50 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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Ann,

While Pooch is right that the lines (really the second) don't really scan IP, and I'm skeptical and "half-balancing" works as a "double trochee," I think the genius of the lines is that the form matches the function in a pleasing way to my ear.

The second of the two lines, I think, doesn't really get to 5 beats and perhaps should be fixed, but first seems perfectly fine and I think you can get away with the second.
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Old 08-05-2018, 02:04 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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I remember a book on Bob Dylan made a similar point about the effectiveness of this line:

You know it balances on your head just like a mattress balances on a bottle of wine -
Your brand-new leopard-skin pillbox hat.

I like this poem and am glad to see it posted for discussion.

Cheers,
John
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