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  #21  
Old 08-17-2018, 09:43 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Yes to the compact version. It reads almost like an epitaph this way, and evokes all the details you need.

In the title, though, do you need his name? You could leave that as a surprise, calling the poem, simply, "I.M."
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  #22  
Old 08-17-2018, 03:33 PM
Erik Olson Erik Olson is offline
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Matt,

I enjoyed reading this poem. Your rendering of the positively winning premise is well-adjusted and effective.

The resemblance of poetic numbers, to the subject which they describe or mention, goes a long way in the effective treatment of the same. Thus, how far those of your own poem have been adjusted to resemble a stark memorial will not be idle or irrelevant to consider. Since, however minute the employment may appear of analyzing lines into syllables, it is certain that without this petty techne none can be a poet metrical; and that from the proper disposition of single sounds results that harmony that adds force to reason, and gives grace to sublimity; that tethers attention, and governs passions. I reckon it apt for this poem, given the subject, that the lines seem like they could fit or might even have been intended for a grave or actual marker of remembrance. As such, I concur with the apter lineation of your revised version without stanzas and white spaces.

I can readily appreciate the ironic imagery, the plainness of the memorial for the dead gentleman contrasted with the exuberance of adornment conferred by accidental plantlife; the want of love and pomp for the memory of Mr. Crane is unexpectedly and perhaps tellingly supplied rather by nature than mankind.

What gave me pause was nothing but one thing: I wished only that the last line had been pure iambic without substitution, pure rather than mixed numbers. In the first place, I prefer to end a poem with the perfect harmony of unmixed numbers; and, in the second place, I think the which more in keeping with epigraphs and inscriptions on monuments. As such, every syllable is nothing short of inerrant. I would not mind a substitution in the poem but think the adventitious decoration of flora a more ideal place for it.
a kind of love, perhaps, to cloak
the plain memory of Charles Crane.
What I do not now pose as a rhetorical question, but simply wondered is whether the word ‘plain’ is needful or implicit enough to not be. This might be helpful. Or not. Thus take or leaves as the case may be, of course.
I realise that the word ‘memory ’ can, not improperly, be made three or two syllables. I should think that to allow it all of its syllables the preferred option, that is given the luxury of choice between them; because what is technically accurate by the dictionary also accords with practice in the vernacular. In short, three is immaculate, and two is certainly fine, if not quite inerrant. To return to this observation later.

I have a desire to see a perfect cadence in the final verse. The which reminds me of the verses of Edwin Arlington Robinson, seeming carved in stone like a memorial of immutable brass. What I mean is easier conveyed by way of example. The last cadence of his poems first George Crabbe and then John Brown read:
There is the wes***
Whether or not we read him, we can feel
From time to time the vigor of his name
Against us like a finger for the shame
And emptiness of what our souls reveal
In books that are as altars where we kneel
To consecrate the flicker, not the flame.

Said the descending Soul: ‘Here in the dark,
Where you are least revealed when most admired,
You may still be the bellows and the spark.’
There is the wes***
This is a matter of taste or absolute preference, mind you. For the last verse, I rather indicate my preference that there be no substitution than impute a defect in the presence of one.
a kind of love, perhaps, to cloak
plain memories of Charles Crane.
The last line is even plainer actually sans adjective. This tweak has been my first temptation, and, seeing as I know no better way to rid of one than to yield to it:

a love, perhaps, to cloak the plain
remembrance of Charles Crane.
[Edited-out ‘kind of,’ upon having blushed to have preserved it over ‘perhaps.’]
If nothing else, be pleased to register my approbation for this well hit-off piece.

Cheers,
Erik

Last edited by Erik Olson; 08-18-2018 at 11:24 PM.
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  #23  
Old 08-17-2018, 04:24 PM
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Woody Long Woody Long is offline
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Matt

L6 - you might try:

untold memories of Charles Crane.

Woody
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  #24  
Old 08-18-2018, 12:20 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Andrew, Eric, Woody,

Thanks for your comments and suggestions.

Andrew,

I'm thinking the title is a bit unwieldy, though when I tried having no mention of Charles Crane before the last line, it didn't quite work for me; the name then seems to come from nowhere. I've gone with "In memorium" as the title and the epitaph as an epigraph.

Erik,

Thanks for your suggestions. It seemed to me that the irregularity/substitution in the last line fit the content: the memory (and the grave) being "plain" and the metre being rough, if that makes sense? And I do think "plain" adds something. I quite liked "remembrance", but I'm loath to lose "perhaps", and ending L5 with "plain" would require reworking the rhyme scheme.

Woody,

Thanks, yes, "untold" has possibilities, though "plain" works off against the foliage and the epitaph, which I prefer, for now at least.

Thanks again all,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 08-19-2018 at 02:47 PM. Reason: mispelling Erik's name. Apologies Erik
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  #25  
Old 08-18-2018, 12:49 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Matt,

it's "In Memoriam."

I find the "here grow" a little awkward. Maybe something like:

The graveyard grass is neatly mown,
but daffodils grow above it, 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.
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  #26  
Old 08-18-2018, 12:51 PM
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Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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I like your solution to the title/epigraph issue. (And of course I like that you took my suggestion to go with the compact version of this.)

I think the text is largely good as is, and I wouldn't muck with it too much. But I do think you can probably do better than "a kind of love" in L5. "A kind of" is filler. What kind of love is it? Maybe "a leafy love" or "a verdant love"? Those are bad suggestions, but you get the drift. That beat is a missed opportunity as is.
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  #27  
Old 08-18-2018, 12:52 PM
Erik Olson Erik Olson is offline
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Matt,

Yes, I agree with Aaron. I was not sure but I had that suspicion before, and now I am surer that the construction sounds a slight bit off. I might suggest: [Edited-out But daffodils grow here, and fern]
The graveyard grass is trim and mown;
not so the daffodil and fern,
saplings of sycamore and oak,
death-come-quickly and leopard’s bane –
a love, perhaps, grows here to cloak
the plain memory of Charles Crane.

Trim graveyard grass surrounds a stone
with wild vine and moss o’regrown;
by saplings of maple and oak,
death-come-quickly and leopard’s bane –
a love, perhaps, that springs to cloak
the plain memory of Charles Crane.
Or perhaps simply:
The graveyard grass is neatly mown
but here the Daffodil and Fern,
saplings of Maple spring with Oak,
Death-come-quickly, and Leopard’s bane –
a kind of love, perhaps, to cloak
the plain memory of Charles Crane.

The graveyard grass is mown and neat;
yet, here, the ferns and flowers meet
saplings of sycamore and oak,
death-come-quickly, and leopard’s bane –
a love, perhaps, that grows to cloak
the plain memory of Charles Crane.
Anyway, I agree with you that plain is indeed necessary.

Cheers,
Erik

Last edited by Erik Olson; 08-18-2018 at 11:26 PM.
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  #28  
Old 08-18-2018, 01:17 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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Matt,

I am digging this pared down version of the poem. It has a lot to offer.

L2 is the issue for me, like Pooch notes.
But there are daffodils and fern
"fern" is an acceptable plural. I don't like that it loses the active verb, but it loses the sudden, and otherwise uncharacteristic, formality while keeping the rhythm.

I'm less bothered by "a kind of," but do think Novick is right there that you can do better.
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  #29  
Old 08-18-2018, 01:31 PM
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Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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I'll make the case for keeping L2 as is.

The heart of this poem is the contrast between the neatness elsewhere and the mess around/in Crane's grave. L2 as you have it now gives you that exactly, while also flowing naturally out of L1 ([There, the grass is neat], but here...) and neatly into the rest of the list of plants that are growing (daffodil and fern, saplings of sycamore...).

If you look at the suggested alterations above, they all lose something of this. Erik's first suggestion loses the smooth transition from L1 into L2, replacing it with a hard stop. The poem's easy elegance gets jammed there. His second suggestion puts the somewhat less essential daffodils before the crucial "here" and "grow", weakening the contrast at the heart of the poem, while also severing the list of plants into two parts, which weakens the effect of conveying the grave as tangled. Presenting all the plants as one mass captures the jumble effectively; separating them in the poem cuts through that tangle. Andrew's suggestion loses the immediacy of "here", again weakening the contrast.

I hope Erik and Andrew won't take offense at me criticizing their critiques in this way. I'm doing this because I think they concretely illustrate the issues that I think will get in the way of *any* attempt to revise L2. Ultimately, I think L2 solves the problem posed by that juncture of the poem so elegantly, both in terms of rhythm and in terms of sense, that to my ear it doesn't even feel like an inversion. In context, it's the most natural way to do what it is you need to do.


(Erik has since edited his second suggestion. The one I was commenting on was something like “But daffodils grow here, and fern...”)

Last edited by Aaron Novick; 08-18-2018 at 02:53 PM.
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  #30  
Old 08-19-2018, 08:21 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Aaron P, Aaron N, Andrew, Erik,

Many thanks for your thoughts on this.

On "but here grow ...", thanks for the suggestions. I'll echo Aaron N's defence of this, adding that yes it's a slightly archaic construction, but that seemed apt given the age of the grave, and the English village churchyard location.

Aaron N, I don't know that "a kind of" is filler exactly. "A kind of" can mean something like "akin to, but not quite": something incomplete, or that falls short of the ideal (e.g. "it's a kind of victory"). Also, to say "a kind of love, perhaps" leaves open what exactly what kind of love it might (or might not) be. Naming it closes that down, which I don't know that I want to do. I wanted the N groping around the edges of this, if that makes sense. Plus, if I write "a leafy love, perhaps", the "perhaps" now seems to be calling something slightly different into question. So, I've left it as it is for now.

Thanks again all

Matt
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