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  #11  
Old 08-15-2018, 07:07 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Sam and Martin, thanks.

Sam, Martin, see below: "A hollow rectangle of grey stone ... half-filled with a fallen cross". It's clear when you can see it, right? How to make it clearer in the poem I don't know. Do you have graves like this in the states?

Sam, there's only one date on the grave (which I changed in the poem for the sake of a better rhyme), so I can't answer your question as whether he was a child. Though I can see how "saplings" and "infant" oak might have given you that idea.

Martin, ok yes, likely it's lichen. Guess I'm never going to make a nature poet. And that's annoying, cos I need the rhyme.

I may have invented blue campanula, but there's definitely oak, sycamore, daffodil and fern, and a yellow flower which might be leopard's bane. Actually the tiny pink flowers look like they might be Geranium robertianum, also known as "death-come-quickly" which I guess I could substitute for "blue campulana". It's certainly appropriate. Would even play into the child reading, I guess. I don't know if anyone would recognise that as a flower's name though. I wouldn't have if I hadn't look it up. I'll try it.

Matt



Last edited by Matt Q; 08-15-2018 at 07:55 PM.
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  #12  
Old 08-15-2018, 07:44 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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How about:

A slab of stone like a shallow coffin

By the way, I found an informative article about mosses and lichens.

https://canadianmuseumofnature.wordp...he-difference/
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  #13  
Old 08-16-2018, 06:02 PM
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R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
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Matt, I've never seen a grave like that in the US. I suspect he died at birth. I was originally thinking the cross had fallen over, but I guess not. It's the kind of grave that would take a lot of tending, and I hope it got it for a time.
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Old 08-16-2018, 06:04 PM
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R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
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a kind of love, or grief, to cloak
the brief memory of Charles Crane.
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  #15  
Old 08-16-2018, 07:07 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Martin and Sam, thanks both for coming back.

Martin, thanks for the suggestion, although I don't know that it's clearer.

Sam, thanks. When I came across the grave, I had assumed the cross was originally upright and had fallen. It's not central, which I'd expect if it had been placed there, but perhaps it hadn't fallen. Still that's what I wanted to convey, so at least that came across. When I saw it I was stuck by the plainness of the inscription, and the plants growing there. I also hadn't thought that it might be an infant grave, but that would certainly explain the single date. I'll have to think about what the means for the poem.

Thanks again both,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 08-16-2018 at 07:09 PM.
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Old 08-16-2018, 09:53 PM
John Jeffrey John Jeffrey is offline
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I agree with John Isbell that the first stanza is not needed. In fact, I think the poem is much stronger without it. It's too, I don't know, too fact-filled. It reads like something by William McGonagall. (Dates are nearly always a dead zone in a poem.) If you feel you must include that information, maybe the epitaph as an epigraph?

And isn't "A hollow rectangle of grey stone" a much better opening than "No dearly departed, no word of love"?

I know that killing S1 also kills the tetrameter sonnet form, but you could write a new stanza with some further interesting details about the grave, such as you did in stanzas 3 and 4. That will also give you more elbow room to elaborate on some of the descriptions that readers are stumbling over.

Speaking of descriptions, that sort of grave is called a kerbed grave or kerbed memorial. (In the US, we'd call it "curbed," but they aren't very popular here.) And I suspect that the cross is meant to be lying on the ground just as it is. Had it been standing, odds are it would have stood at the head of the grave--the top of the grave in the photo. If it then fell, the top of the cross would be at the bottom of the photo and the cross would appear inverted.

Just a few thoughts from someone who's wandered back to Eratosphere after some time in the woods.

-- John J
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  #17  
Old 08-17-2018, 03:56 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is online now
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Hi Matt,

I keep rushing past L6 because I can't help reading it as 3 beats

'splotched yellow with graveyard moss'

Could it be something like 'yellowed, splotched with graveyard moss'?

Could be just me. The poem is lovely, a sad contemplation.
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  #18  
Old 08-17-2018, 04:23 AM
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Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is online now
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Does it matter who it is/was? Is it not the point of the poem that CC is not fully identified?

Perhaps if you could somehow build the idea of your own not knowing into the early stages of the poem. Rhymes "unknown" and "overgrown" are nibbling at my ear. Also, if your moss is lichen, then I have often noticed how yellow lichen-wheels "emboss" the old stones in a graveyard. But old moss does go yellow, especially in a dry spell. I can see some from my window, on the top rails of a gate.

It occurs to me that if the cross fell from the stub at the top end of the grave it would have landed other way up. It appears to have been adjusted to lie on top of Charles and perhaps once held clues to his departed self.

But I don't want clues. I don't want accuracy of botanical detail. I can see a common fern and a tuft of Achemilla mollis (lady's mantle) at the far end but if you hadn't provided the photo I wouldn't have known and nor would I have wanted to know. The point of this for me is that you can be just as as "unknown" in a marked grave as an unmarked one. I am pleased you find such pleasure in the names of growing things. Perhaps you could suggest your innocence in some way, and then just let rip with the ones you've "collected"?

Perhaps if you didn't refer to Charles by name, the clamour for accuracy would slow down. Decide how you define "right" in the context of this poem.

Plant spellings are a minefield. Aubrieta is quite often spelled Aubretia.

To be a nature poet you don't have to be a biologist or a botanist; you just need eyes, ears and a bit of a heart.

And, incidentally, there is such a thing as a blue campanula. I happen to be writing a poem about one at this very moment, for a competition.
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  #19  
Old 08-17-2018, 05:50 AM
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Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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Matt, the last two stanzas of this are gorgeous. The first stanza is detail, and I agree the poem is better without it. Frankly, the poem might be better without the second stanza, too.
The graveyard grass is neatly mown,
but here grow daffodil and fern,
saplings of sycamore, infant oak,
death-come-quickly, leopard's bane –
a kind of love, perhaps, to cloak
the plain memory of Charles Crane.
This is the heart of the poem, isn't it? Do the details you get in the other stanzas add to this? Especially since they aren't coming through clearly for many readers (me included)? I think you could give it a title that replaced the first two stanzas, e.g. "On seeing a grave marked only, To the memory of Charles Crane, October... 1930"


Also—a moot point if you agree with me about cutting the first two stanzas—I think the yellow moss is a problem, because you're suggesting the place is lushly overgrown, whereas the moss would only be yellow if it was unhealthy. So it's not the inaccuracy per se, but the fact that it's inaccurate in a way that disrupts the poem.
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  #20  
Old 08-17-2018, 08:45 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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John, Annie, Aaron,

Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions on this.

It's not a poem in my normal style, and I was concerned that it was as risk of being too sentimental. The opening two lines were added last, and I wasn't that happy with them because they over-explain and are more telly than I'd like, plus the conflict between metre and phrasing in L2 bothers me. I think overall, I've been too concerned with explanation and setting up overall.

John, thanks for the name of the grave type. And yes, I think at least some of the opening should go. I'm not that attached to it being a sonnet.

Mark, I do hear four beats there, but I can see how you don't. I think that line needs work anyway, as I've misnamed lichen as moss.

Annie, accuracy wasn't really as much of a concern as it may have seemed in the comments. Whether or not the cross had fallen in reality, it has in the poem. Around here campanula grows like a weed in walls and pavement cracks. It's pretty much blue. I switched it out because 'death-come-quickly' seemed more apt, though perhaps it's overdone -- too obvious. Along the same lines, I'm thinking about how to exchange 'leaopard's bane' for "forget-me-not" ... though again, it may be over much. Maybe I don't need to name the occupant of the grave, there was just something about the name "Charles Crane" that I liked.

Aaron, I do like your suggestion of just going with the last 6 lines. I think you're right that all that precedes it set-up, and not necessarily needed. I have posted that as a revision.


Thanks again all,

Matt
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