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  #11  
Old 09-10-2018, 07:39 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Jan, a fair point. I realise I've been making an assumption here. I'd imagined the "us" waking up, looking out of our window at the mountain at a distance far enough to see the whole mountain, such that changes in shape of the mountain wouldn't be visible enough to be contemplated on a daily basis, even though slow erosion was occurring. However, yes, I can see that if you lived close enough to the river/mountain, you could see the sediment -- and even if you lived at distance you might see the dust or feel it in the wind.

Jim, yes, the 'you' could be self-address, it's certainly open to that reading. The streetlights suggested a more modern N to me. Either way, I enjoyed reading it as N addressed to Heraclitus, and the interpersonal aspect of this was a fair part of what I liked, and that reading is closed down by first-person version.

Last edited by Matt Q; 09-10-2018 at 08:15 PM.
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  #12  
Old 09-10-2018, 09:05 PM
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Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is online now
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Matt, thanks for coming back. You're right. The first-person version is gone.

Erik, I hear you. We'll see if it chafes others, but for now I'm sticking with it, understanding that it might rub some the wrong way.

Jan, I don't mind it at all.
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  #13  
Old 09-11-2018, 08:05 AM
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Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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Aaron,

I hope to return a couple of times to this one as I have to think through exactly all the levels of the river in it to trace each one by itself then all together. Nonetheless, I want to comment on this line.

"epiphany proves transient."

This frequent truth is heart-breaking or mind-rending for the deep thinker. "...for you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not..." --Cat Stevens (so-named at the time).
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  #14  
Old 09-11-2018, 11:58 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

I like the careful, tentative thought process here, beginning immediately when 'earth is awake' is qualified as the 'sliver' of it that the addressee is aware of. The variation of the line endings with their opposites is very well done and never feels forced. As Matt observes, the sestina form is certainly fitting for the content. I felt a sincerity in the poem's reaching out to this long-dead thinker. It's not necessarily for me but it's a quietly serious piece of writing.

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 09-11-2018 at 02:12 PM. Reason: qualification
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  #15  
Old 09-11-2018, 01:45 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Hi Aaron,

I had a couple of thoughts on the revisions.

COLOR="Red"]Every[/color] morning we awake
To the faded efforts of the moon,
Too dim to show in that day's river.

I liked "last remnants" for the sonics: 'remnants' picks up on "morning", "moon" and "river'. Plus the "last remnants of the moon" seems more concrete, "faded efforts" being more abstract.

Slow down, slow down. That all is transient—
Allowable. What of it? The mountain
Outlasts us: each day, we awake
And its there, and we think of how the water
And wind destroy it: slowly, a public
Spectacle, thanks to the tattletale sun.


So here the N remonstrates with H. Everything changes, what of it? The N's "what of it?" seems to be rhetoric, a "so what?". However, as you say the turn that follows is very quick, too quick, I think. He seems to be saying that the mountain's very slow change doesn't really make a difference to anything, but then almost in the same breath, and certainly in the same sentence, seems to be saying that we're constantly reminded of -- or at least, constantly preoccupied with -- the mountain's impermanence and passing away, which suggests that it does make a difference, exacting an emotional/existential toll (evidenced by daily reflection on the process of its destruction). From which I take it that the N is (and "we" are) affected by some degree of what is affecting H in the previous stanza -- misplaced by the river, heart consumed by the cold fire of flux. It's odd that he seems to change his mind mid-sentence, if that is what's happening.

Your revision removes the word "contemplate", which addresses my concern that we look out every morning and see the mountain's ongoing destruction. I'm not keen on that second 'and' which seems a bit like filler. Shouldn't be difficult to fix though (assuming you think it needs fixing):

"and there it is. We think of the water" or
"and it remains/persists. We think of ...".
"and it's still there" etc ...

I also think it being two separate sentences would help somewhat with the quickness of the turn. It also avoids the double colon, which like Erik, I'm not a big fan of.

An old new face. Along the river,
Streetlights cast globes on the murky water


I'm not sure why you've changed "Beside" to "Along". Again I prefer the sonics of the original, the 's' sound alongside the sibilance of " Streetlights cast globes on its". I guess changing "its" to "the" clarifies the possible confusion of reference of "it", though I don't see that much scope for confusion, and again you lose sibilance. So, IPTO.

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 09-11-2018 at 01:52 PM.
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  #16  
Old 09-12-2018, 02:19 PM
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Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is online now
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Daniel, Mark, thanks for reading and appreciating.

Matt, thanks for pushing me on the revisions. You've convinced me to go back on the first and third points. Regarding S5, your comment reveals an unclarity in my presentation: S5 is the addressee telling the N to slow down, pushing back. Yes, as the N says, all is transient, but what of it. I've put it in italics to address that. But, even as the addressee is pushing back, the mountain draws his mind to its (the mountain's) eventual destruction—thus the N can rejoin: "you thought you had it, but no." I've kept working on the crucial line in where the turn happens—thoughts? I want to keep it one sentence, a seamless transition.
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Old 09-12-2018, 03:14 PM
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Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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Aaron, I love your craft and precision and I always look for your poems in particular. This poem shows that craft and detail. BTW, your quality, already good seems to have taken a substantial, non-linear jump upward in roughly about 2-3 months ago). Having said that, I have some perhaps out-of-the-mainstream thoughts that I hope are of general use if not specific. A little later I'll return to the management of themes / levels of river that I mentioned in my first post.


It's MORNing NOW: earth IS aWAKE, <--kind of 'iffy' forcing so early, but context/tone makes it o.k.(?)
At LEAST this SLIver THAT the SUN,
NEW-MADE, enLIGHTens. You WATCH its FIRE +1/2
BANish the DREAMWORLD for MORE STABle -like the double iam, but a lot of substitutions for one line*
FANtas[ies]: for INstance, this MOUNtain very muddy to my ear
It's CROWNing: SOLid, LONG-STANDing, PUBlic. +1 Don't know if the inversion to trochees is warranted.**

Whew, Tetrameter would a substantial challenge for any sestina.

*headless, then double-iamb, then ending with a trochee. Only one iamb in the line. And it follows a line that is off slightly
** trochee substitution is generally accepted, right? It's just much nicer if it highlights something, like a contrast in tone or perspective. Here, it's one continuous thing, so the inversion of feet isn't the best it could be.

Now, I know the sestina isn't really defined by meter. Going back to the start, it makes another strong pressure on what you select for ending words. For example something like "interview" would be a one-word anapest and very problematic to use if you were otherwise composing in IP. However, I don't see any difficulty so far reaching that one couldn't step up to the bar. And imho, if it has no meter and is only defined by word-selection at the end, then it's not metrical poetry. A valid art form, but not metrical poetry, I'd argue. And not especially important since the lines could range so greatly in length making the selection of the repeated words a pretty minimal event. Further, it would be barely detectable as a poem if only heard out loud and not read visually.

Finally, there seems to be an unwritten rule that the repeated words must be nouns or infrequently verbs or dual purpose, but I think that assumption should be deliberately challenged. Using consistent meter and different parts of speech (but they have to be somewhat interesting, not something like 'the') can really spice up a sestina, imho.
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  #18  
Old 09-16-2018, 05:23 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Novick View Post
Regarding S5, your comment reveals an unclarity in my presentation: S5 is the addressee telling the N to slow down, pushing back. Yes, as the N says, all is transient, but what of it. I've put it in italics to address that. But, even as the addressee is pushing back, the mountain draws his mind to its (the mountain's) eventual destruction—thus the N can rejoin: "you thought you had it, but no." I've kept working on the crucial line in where the turn happens—thoughts? I want to keep it one sentence, a seamless transition.
Putting it in italics does make it clear that it's a different speaker, and I think the change to "I allow" possibly helps with that too. I'd previously taken the N to be telling H to slow down (H having burnt his heart to ash)

Given the title, I take the addressee to be Heraclitus. I was a little wrong-footed by "I allow". It makes it sound a bit like H is ceding a point. But I'd have thought this view (that all is transient) was central to H's view, and the N knows it (hence the preceding stanzas). So "I allow" sounds odd in this context -- like, "OK, I'll give you that, but ..." as if H though that N might not expect H to agree. Does that make sense? I'd expect something more along the lines of "all things are transient, of course, but ...".

Also, N's portrait of H as "misplaced" by the river, "heart consumed" and "turned to dead ash" has me seeing H as somewhat existentially lost, driven mad or at least damaged, by his vision of everything as flux. However, "I allow" and "inviting" make H sound rather mild-mannered and reasonable. Is there something with more weight than "inviting", something that suggests we have less option, less choice when it comes to contemplation the destruction of the mountain ?

The more I reread this stanza, the less the turn worked for me. I'm finding it hard to understand where the H is coming from. Why say, in effect, "so what?" and then change his mind mid-sentence? There does seem to be a what. So, OK, maybe the the "what of it?" is here meant more in the sense of "and what does this mean?" rather than "who cares?"/"so what?". But I think this latter meaning seems more likely to what's understood. The former meaning, perhaps, if H were responding to someone already said "so what?" or similar to H.

With this stanza being H, an immediate question for me was why, following H's interjection, the N says, "You thought you had it, but no."? I assumed that N addresses H here (and throughout) and not himself. What is it about what H says that makes the N say that H hasn't got it? H certainly isn't giving that impression. From S4's "misplaced" I take the the N is saying that both the H is lost, but also that is (philosophical) position is mistaken. So, in some way S5 shows H thinking he has it, and the N concluding (again?) in S6 that he hasn't?

So at this point in my meanderings I thought maybe I should be reading "you" as self-address throughout, as Jim suggested, because "you" referring to H no longer seems makes that much sense. And yes, that does seem to work. The N is the one who misplaces himself by the river, his heart turned to ash. Having thought he'd got it he's corrected by H, and this what he's saying in S6L1. H breaks into N's self-address to calmly correct N. And this seems to resolve a fair bit of my confusion above.

But for me, a few things work against this reading -- or at least made it hard for me to see (though perhaps I was also stuck on how I'd read it before you made it clear S5 was a different speaker): First, along with "you", there's also "Let us linger" in S3L1. That's then a switch from inward-address to outward-address: N addresses himself, and then suddenly has an audience. Second, I think using "you" as self-address is problematic given that the poem also has another speaking to the N, who is then a potential target for "you". It's also unexpected, given that the N is addressing himself, quite possibly without speaking, that the H hears him and interjects. So, assuming "you" is, in fact, self-address, I can see why you tried the switch to first person.

best

-Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 09-16-2018 at 05:50 PM.
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  #19  
Old 09-16-2018, 08:48 PM
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Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is online now
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Daniel, Matt, thank you for your close readings. I'm moving to a new country in two days, so I don't have time to work on this right now, but I look forward to doing so once my life has settled back down.
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  #20  
Old 09-17-2018, 05:23 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Aaron,

Hope the move goes smoothly.

Thought about this again today and realised that the speaker is Heraclitus, and now it all makes much more sense, including that the addressee responds with "I allow". Quite possibly that would have been pretty clear to me if the latest revision had been what I'd read first. Hard to tell now though ...

Best,

Matt
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