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Old 08-11-2018, 12:41 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Default Anant Chaturdashi II

Anant Chaturdashi

Sticks cracked with rhythm, and the barn cats scattered:
a late-night stranger. On my property.
Hey, what you want? A feline tenor chattered
the moon was urgent, and a holiday,
urgent, and could he please please bathe his Shri
Shri God Ganesha in my reservoir?

Soon as I shrugged and muttered, Well, okay,
a whole family gathered. One, a daughter,
cradled no dolly, no mere avatar,
but him, they clamored, him! Could I not see
the tusks, the trunk, the pudgy little belly?
The deva'd flown here all the way from Delhi.

The whole family waist-deep in the water
took turns immersing him. The moon was full
and satisfied at last. What they possessed
was what possessed them—a reciprocal
devotion. They were home, and I, a guest,
observed, from my own land, their festival.

. . . . .

L1 was "Leaves up and rustled, and the barn cats scattered:"
L12 was "Everywhere, he had flown here out of Delhi" was "The god had flown here all the way from Delhi." was "He had flown here, immortal, out of Delhi."

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 08-14-2018 at 10:18 AM.
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  #2  
Old 08-11-2018, 12:44 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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This is a revision of a poem I posted here a while back. This poem is integral to my manuscript "American Divine," and I want to be sure to get it just right.

Here's the earlier draft:

Anant Chaturdashi

Rustle and snap and then the farm cats scattered:
strangers were out there. On my property.
Hey, what you want? It’s late. A tenor chattered
the moon was urgent, and a holiday,
urgent, and could he please please bathe his Shri
Shri God Ganesha in my reservoir?

Soon as I shrugged and muttered, well, okay,
a whole family gathered. One, a daughter,
cradled no dolly, no mere avatar,
but him, they clamored, him! Could I not see
the tusks, the trunk, the pudgy little belly?
Baba had brought him all the way from Delhi.

The whole family waist-deep in the water
took turns immersing him. The moon was full
and satisfied at last. What they possessed
was what possessed them—a reciprocal
devotion. They were home; I was a guest,
watching, from my own land, their festival.

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 08-11-2018 at 12:51 PM.
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  #3  
Old 08-11-2018, 01:28 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

I still like this one a lot. Two details I might tinker with: you've got whole family twice, and for me, the enjambed urgent is a bit awkward.

Cheers,
John
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Old 08-11-2018, 01:39 PM
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Woody Long Woody Long is offline
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Aaron —

I liked this poem the first time around & am glad to see it back. Generally: a good image with good feelings.

L1 as now: Leaves up and rustled, and the barn cats scattered:

better, I think:

Leaves rustled and up, and the barn cats scattered:

arguably:

Leaves rust/led and up,/and the/barn cats/scattered


but in any case:

• more accurate in time sequence
• more striking both in poetic effect & sonics
• helps to avoid the possible misreading that leaves up is a verb phrase like e.g. holds up, gives up, etc.
• puts the leaves more closely in parallel with the barn cats

— Woody

Last edited by Woody Long; 08-11-2018 at 01:47 PM. Reason: syntax
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Old 08-11-2018, 01:48 PM
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Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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Aaron, there's a lot to like here, but I have a couple critical notes:

I really don't care for "up and rustled" in the first line. I get that you're going for colloquialism there, but to my ear it's a very unnatural way to describe the leaves. So it ends up feeling both casual and strained—an unpleasant combo.

I'm with John about "whole family" and might go a step further: can you cut both of them? I find them both rhythmically awkward. The first, especially, grinds the poem's momentum to a halt.

I think "little" in "pudgy little belly" is a missed opportunity. I get "little" from the fact that the daughter is cradling him. I think you should use that spot to be more informative about the idol. What's it made of? What color is it? Or whatever else you think is relevant.
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Old 08-11-2018, 05:34 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Gentlemen, thank you. Yes, the opening line wasn’t working. I have decided to go for:

Twigs cracked in rhythm, and the barn cats scattered:

John and Aaron N., I am thinking about the “whole family” (used twice). The first is important because the visitor uses the singular (“he”), and it’s supposed to be charmingly funny that, as soon as I agree, a whole bunch of people come out of the darkness. The second “whole family” is meant to emphasize the collective nature of their worship in contrast to the lone “I” observing from a distance.

John, I understand that the second “urgent” is emphatic—this intentionally odd way of talking is meant to suggest the speaker is not a native English speaker and is translating in his mind from Hindi.

Woody, thank you. You persuaded me to change the opening line. I prefer your suggestions to what I had. I decided to get rid of “up” entirely.

Aaron N. thank you. I have changed the first line. The “pudgy little belly” is part, as I see it, of implied indirect discourse—that is the narrator is repeating what he heard the Hindus saying about Ganesha. Thus, “little” has its merit as a term of endearment (and a very non-Judaeo-Christian way of talking about a god).

Thank you all,
Aaron
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Old 08-11-2018, 06:11 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

My favorite bit of South Asian English was written by E.M. Forster in A Passage to India: "Are we not in the same boat with a vengeance?"

One thing I love about English is that it is, like French or Spanish, a world language with a tremendous dialectal range.

Cheers,
John
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Old 08-12-2018, 01:13 AM
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Woody Long Woody Long is offline
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Aaron —

S2L1-L2, as now:

Soon as I shrugged and muttered, well, okay,
a whole family gathered. One, a daughter,


1. Begin the sentence with the idiomatic As soon as... making the 2nd foot an anapest. (The truncated version as is reads as forced.)

2. Change gathered in L2 to the natural appeared. I don't think gathered states the image accurately. It should be from the point of view of the N, especially if the passage is to be humorous, as you say.

So:

As soon as I shrugged and muttered, well, okay,
a whole family appeared. One, a daughter,


The poem already has some metrical variations, and these suggestions would add more, but they sound good to my ear & preserve the beat counts.

I think ordinary readers are more likely to stumble on odd phraseology to no apparent purpose in the sense, rather than on minor variations in meter.

— Woody
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Old 08-12-2018, 04:17 AM
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Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is offline
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I may well be going mad, but I think there's another changed line from your first version (I mean the first version here, not the earlier version).

I was terribly worried about the Delhi/belly rhyme, carried it about in my head for a while and remembered it as "father had brought it all the way...etc". Not quite the same as the earlier "baba" (which I'd have preferred to see as dada-ji, but never mind since it's no longer relevant).

The change (it is a change, is it not?) to the idea that "the god had flown here" is a great improvement, clarifying the idea that the object "is" what it represents, but I am now wondering if "all the way" is a waste of words. I am still thinking. My head is full of icons and trans(s)ubstantiation.

Or does that phrase contribute to the N's overall scepticism, his delight in the realisation that they truly believe it...?

Just planting an idea to see if it wants watering.
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Old 08-12-2018, 04:40 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Thank you, everyone.

John, you have inspired me to re-read E.M Forster. It's been a while. I have very fond memories of his "worst" novel, "The Longest Journey," about poetry.

Woody, I am looking at the lines you point out. "Soon as" is colloquial English--that is, I say it and others around me do. I like it because the speaker as a simple "farm" guy--at least he has "barn cats." I am looking at "a whole family gathered." Perhaps some other word than "family"? Something like "congregation" but not that?

Ann, good morning to you. Yes, the ol' "Baba" line struck me as patronizing, and I dumped it. I do like Dada-ji.

You are right: "all the way" is a waste of words.

Perhaps

The god had flown here on a plane from Delhi.

That line starts with Ganesha flying like the Greco-Roman gods and ends with a statue flying on a plane from India. What do you think?
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