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badger11

William

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revision

 

An Aynsley vase of plastic daffodils

now gathers dust. Alone, she writes with pencil

shaping this hum to word and reads aloud

to taste the flavours, touch textures of sound.

 

He sips brandy and reads in solitude

that page where letters stare so weathered old

in graphite grey; with loving care his thumb

smudges a cloud, a word no longer heard.

 

 

=====================================================================================

 

original

 

An Aynsley vase of plastic daffodils

now gathers dust. Alone she writes with pencil

shaping this hum to word, and reads aloud

to taste a flavour, touch a texture of sound.

 

He sips a brandy, reads in solitude

a page where letters stare so weathered old

in graphite grey, until with care his thumb

smudges a cloud, a word no longer heard.

 

 

 

===============================================================================

 

 

Any thoughts on the prosody of this would be very much appreciated

 

thanks

 

badge

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Your verse is often in iambic pentameter, and I don't know if you do it with conscious effort or not. If the syntax comes naturally to you like that, it's evidence of the command you have over the English language. You are, after all, a native English speaker, and it's not surprising to see the meter, because English is, by it's very nature, primarily an iambic language. That's a linguistic fact. Even prose (especially well written prose) is predominantly and substantially iambic. When a native English speaker who has command of the language composes a poem in iambic pentameter, whether he tries to or not, he harnesses the true natural beauty of the English language by default. It can't be helped. It can only be consciously, by intent, avoided.

 

Frost said there are only two types of iambics, "strict" and "loose." Loose contains anapests, strict does not. The only place where you have an anapest is in the last foot of L4:

 

/ to TASTE / a FLA / vour TOUCH / a TEX/ ture of SOUND/

 

Either way, iambics with or without anapests ("loose" or "strict") can be lovely. Consider Frost's Acquainted with the Night (in post #5). It contains iambs, trochees, and double iambs, but not a single anapest anywhere. It's strict. Then consider Edgar Bowers' The Astronomers of Mont Blanc and his #10 (from "Autumn Shade")(in post #1). The former, like Frost's poem, is composed of iambs, trochees, double iambs, and also some feminine endings (none of those in Frost's) but, unlike Frost's, contains one anapest in the last foot of L4. The latter contains a whole host of anapests (F3 of L3, F1 of L4, F4 of L5, F3 of L6, F2 of L9, & F5 of L14). What is my point??? It's this: both ways, strict and loose, can be beautiful. In my opinion, a poet who is paying attention to the meter of a poem should consider whether his poem benefits from the single anapest or would be better suited tightened up. It's a tough call. Why did Bowers use "shadowy" in "Astronomers" when he might have been able to use "shadowed" (not sure if that's a word or if it makes sense, but let's assume that it is, and it does) to end up with a strict iambic poem? What's the payoff from the one anapest? Perhaps it adds some variety or breaks up monotony, I don't know. There's no question that the payoff from the lot of anapests in "#10 from 'Autumn Shade'" is significant; the result is an absolutely captivating, lovely rhythm. But in "Astronomers," I'm not so sure. Just my opinion. Both the Bowers examples are world class poems, and I don't know if anyone has looked this closely at the anomaly in L4 of "Astronomers," but it's hard to believe that no one hasn't.

 

 

/ an Ayns / ley VASE / of PLAS / tic DAF / foDILS /

 

/ now GATH / ers DUST / aLONE / she WRITES / with PEN / cil

 

/SHAP ing / this HUM / to WORD / and READS / aLOUD /

 

/ to TASTE / a FLA / vour TOUCH / a TEX/ ture of SOUND/

 

/ he SIPS / a BRAN / dy READS / in SO / liTUDE /

 

/ a PAGE / where LET / ters STARE / so WEATH / ered OLD /

 

/ in GRAPH / ite GREY / unTIL / with CARE / his THUMB /

 

/SMUDGes / a CLOUD / a WORD / no LONG / er HEARD /

 

 

The feminine ending at the end of L2 followed by the trochee in the first foot of L3 is lovely, as are the trochee and the rhyme in the last line. Again, the meter is strict with the exception of the one anapest in L4. I don't mind the anapest, nor do I find it objectionable in any way, but you as the poet need to decide if it works. I like the sound of it, but consider this:

 

/ to TASTE / FLAvour / and TOUCH / TEXture / of SOUND/ [strict]

 

or, if you must have the specificity of the particular flavor:

 

/ to TASTE / its FLA / vour and / TOUCH SON / ic TEX / ture

/ iamb / iamb / { pyrrhic / trochee (double iamb) } / iamb / ^ (feminine ending)

 

Okay, I don't like "sonic" in this line, but I'm just showing another way it could be reworked and made strict by losing the anapest without altering the meaning even subtly.

 

I think meter should and must be applied carefully, together with punctuation and other elements of grammar. As poetic as the commas in L4 and L5 may be, as helpful as they may be when fine-tuning meter, I think their use in these instances results in incorrect construction. In my opinion, the use of a run-on sentence or comma splice in these lines is not appropriate. In each instance, it's simply not close enough. I'm no expert, and I wish Ikars was around to help -- he would add valuable input on this -- but I'm leaning toward use of a conjunction in each of these lines.

 

An Aynsley vase of plastic daffodils

now gathers dust. Alone she writes with pencil [not sure if you need a comma after "alone," "pencil," or both]

shaping this hum to word, and reads aloud [lose the comma here - it's incorrect unless perhaps you use a comma after pencil? (not sure)]

to taste a flavour, touch a texture of sound.

 

[Here (in L4) I think you need to lose the comma and use "and":

 

/ to TASTE / a FLA / vour and TOUCH / a TEX / ture of SOUND /

 

or (for increased clarity and specificity) use "the" in lieu of "a":

 

/ to TASTE / the FLA / vour and TOUCH / the TEX / ture of SOUND /

 

You would end up with two anapests in this line and, quite possibly, the ultimate fix: clarity, nice rhythm, and no subtle change in meaning.]

 

He sips a brandy, reads in solitude [Here, again, I think you need to lose the comma and use "and." Again, it would add an anapest.]

a page where letters stare so weathered old

in graphite grey, until with care his thumb [not sure on the comma]

smudges a cloud, a word no longer heard. [nice use of the comma on the appositive]

 

I hope this helps.

 

Tony

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Edit/Ad-in --

 

Still thinking about the comma splice in L4. Perhaps it's okay. But I definitely don't like it in L5.

 

Let's see if others chime in ...

 

 

 

Another thought for L5:

 

/ he SIPS / BRANdy / and READS / in SOL /iTUDE /

 

/ iamb / trochee / iamb /iamb /iamb /

 

This would get rid of the comma splice and there's no anapest. It's strict.

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I hope this helps.

 

I think the answer to that is obvious Tony I've saved a copy for my files). I particularly found the comments on anapests interesting. I should explain I've started reading Timothy Steele's book 'all the fun's in how you say a thing.' His thoughts on modulation in a line sparked my interest in prosody! I was surprised by your comments on commas and conjunctions. I don't like 'and', but then I use the comma too often!

 

Will post a revision.

 

Have a lovely festive time.

 

cheers

 

badge

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Isn't Steele's book terrific? Lots of great examples, too. The excerpt from Thom Gunn's poem "Pierce Street" (page 177) appeals to me a lot. Though I've searched online for that poem, I haven't found it. Looks like I'll have to resort to the book store to find it in its entirety, lol.

 

And modulation! It's where the magic happens. I liken meter to the underlying beat of a musical composition. The multitude of syntactical options the English language affords i.e. where the substituted feet, the trochees, double iambs, anapests fall set the pace. The tempo can speed up or slow down anywhere in a poem, even within a single line, and the contemporary reader will not stumble so long as the meter is not off. And the meter is not off when the standards are adhered to and observed.

 

As for anapests, I went into my archive and looked at all my works. I was surprised to see that I use the occasional anapest in probably half of my poems.

 

I'm a believer in standard punctuation. I think punctuation, when used properly, is one of a writer's greatest tools when it comes to clarity and getting his message across. I don't always get it right, but I do try.

 

 

Have a lovely festive time.

 

cheers

 

badge

Likewise! All the best to you and yours!

 

Tony :happy:

 

 

PS -- I was going to say that I don't think your poem needs a whole lot of revision when I saw your revised version. The meter is tightened up in L4 & L5. The poem is composed in flawless strict iambic pentameter.

 

I love the subtle changes in L7 & L8. There are some people who would encourage you to use a period in lieu of the semicolon in L7. I'd probably lean toward the period myself in this instance, but either way works in my opinion. The semicolon is a very useful option, and I use it a lot myself, but I have gone through most of my poems and eliminated plenty of them. Still, there are plenty I kept. Great work on "William"!

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There are some people who would encourage you to use a period in lieu of the semicolon in L7. I'd probably lean toward the period myself in this instance, but either way works in my opinion. The semicolon is a very useful option, and I use it a lot myself, but I have gone through most of my poems and eliminated plenty of them.

 

Thanks for taking a look at the revision Tony. I believe the poem has progressed in a significant way because of your guidance. I think in time I will probably revisit that semi-colon!

 

cheers

 

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wow badge superb writing here. the semicolon works in the revision. i like the progression of the poem better with the semicolon than without it. i wish i wrote something as alluring as attractive as this write is to my eyes. a feast of eye candy my poet friend.

 

victor

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the semicolon works in the revision. i like the progression of the poem better with the semilcolon than without it

 

Thanks for the thumbs up on the revision victor.

 

cheers

 

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