Jump to content
Poetry Magnum Opus
  • Announcements

    • tonyv

      Registration -- to join PMO ***UPDATED INSTRUCTIONS***   03/14/2017

      Automatic registration has been disabled. If you would like to join the Poetry Magnum Opus online community, use the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of this page and follow these instructions: 1. Check your email (including your spam folder) in a timely fashion for a reply. 2. After you receive a reply, use the "Sign Up" link at the top right corner of the page to create your account. Do this fast. I've lost my patience with people who use the "Contact Us" link to express interest in joining and then don't bother to check their email for a reply and don't bother to join after registration has been enabled. The queue fills up fast with spammers, and I have to spend my time sifting through the rubbish to delete them. The window of opportunity for joining will be short. I will not have my time wasted. If you don't check your email and you don't bother registering promptly, you will find that registration has been disabled and your future requests to join may go ignored. /s/ Tony ___________________ [Registration will only be enabled for a short while from the time your message is received, so please check your email for a reply and register within 12 hours of using the "Contact Us" link. (Be sure to check your spam folder if you don't see a reply to your message.)]
    • tonyv

      IMPORTANT: re Logging In to PMO ***Attention Members***   03/15/2017

      For security purposes, please use your email address when logging in to the site. This will prevent your account from being locked when malicious users try to log in to your account using your publicly visible display name. If you are unable to log in, use the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of the page.
    • tonyv

      Blogs   05/01/2017

      Blogs are now accessible to Guests. Guests may read and reply to blog entries. We'll see how this works out. If Guest participation becomes troublesome, I'll disable Guest access. Members are encouraged to make use of the PMO Members' Promotional Blog to promote their published works. Simply add your latest entry to the blog. Include relevant information (your name or screen name, poem title, periodical name, hyperlink to the site where published, etc). If you have a lot of them and feel you need your own blog, let me know, and I will try to accommodate you. Members are encouraged to continue also posting their promotional topics in the Promotions forum on the board itself which is better suited for archiving promotions.
badger11

Priest (second revision)

Recommended Posts

She prays.

 

There’s a clamour of rooks calling

across the brook. Her hand

delves beneath the copper leaves,

digs deep in dark earth, unclothes

a world of feeding things: unwraps

the scent of nature's fate. She buries

her cross and chain.

 

She waits.

 

He locks the gate and strides away

to worm the wrinkled book

where minds in hunger roam.

He kneels and binds

his hands in prayer with words

to root and free his soul

with hollow thud

of nail in flesh that chills

his blood.

 

He prays.

 

 

 

 

 

 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

First Revision

 

Beyond the rose-clipped fence, a feast

of tree and sea,

of shade and hue, his love asleep

and moist with dew.

 

Shall he awake

from simple sleep, unlace the dream

and seed his shame, express

a need, embrace the flame?

 

He locks the gate and strides away

to worm the wrinkled book

where minds in hunger roam.

He kneels and binds

 

his hands in prayer with words

to root and free his soul

with empty thud

of nail in flesh that chills

his blood.

 

 

 

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

original:

 

Beyond the rose

-clipped fence, a feast

of tree and sea,

of shade and hue, asleep

his love now moist with dew.

 

Shall he awake

from simple sleep, unlace the dream

and seed his shame, express

a need, embrace her flame?

 

He locks the gate and strides away

to worm the wrinkled book

where minds in hunger roam.

He kneels and binds

 

his hands in prayer with words

to root and free his soul

with empty thud

of nail in flesh that chills

his blood.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey, Badge! icon_biggrin.png I'll take a shot at this. icon_lol.gif This will be my first attempt at a critique in awhile, so hopefully I won't botch it!

 

First, let me say your title immediately caught my attention. It lends an air of mystery and makes me want to read further.

 

Meaning was lost to me in the first strophe, until I finally realized that the en-dash at the beginning of the second line was a hyphen to join rose and clipped. I was reading this as follows:

 

Beyond the rose -- clipped fence, a feast of tree and shade ...

 

That was causing me to wonder whether the rose was an allusion to something that I didn't recognize, and it also made me question what a "clipped" fence was. For starters, I think that the hyphen should definitely be after rose in the first line and not before clipped in the second line. Even better, IMHO, would be if both words were on the same line:

 

Beyond the rose-clipped fence ...

 

Also, in the first strophe, I found myself grappling with the question of who or what his love is. In my first couple of reads I saw it as an abstraction: he is a priest after all! But then it hit me, that he is a human, and his love is in fact another person. I think the confusion was the result of the syntactical inversion which (for me) is throwing this part of the poem. I think meaning would be more clear if normal syntax was restored,and the word now changed to and, so the lines read as follows:

 

of shade and hue, his love

asleep and moist with dew.

 

Second strophe. Being from across the pond, I think awake should be wake, but upon checking my dictionary, I found that awake is also a transitive verb, and who am I to argue with those who speak proper English! icon_lol.gif I do think there should be the word her added in after wake or awake regardless of which verb you choose, like this:

 

Shall he wake her/from her simple sleep...

 

I also think you should replace the word the with his in front of dream, for clarity, like this:

 

from simple sleep, unlace his dream

 

I love the sexually-charged expression seed his shame, but I think you can come up with a better expression for embrace her flame -- flame sounds a little too cliche -- or even just another word to replace flame that would not alter the meaning.

 

You employ strong alliteration in the third and last strophes, with the recurrence of the letter "r": strides, wrinkled, roam, prayer, root -- all expertly chosen words. I do think the third strophe should end with its third line, with the last line tacked onto the last strophe, or the last strophe should be attached to the third strophe. I don't think the stanza break after binds helps the poem.

 

As to form, I see that it is styled as free-form poetry, but I detect a strong iambic swing, and IMHO, this poem is a great candidate to be set in blank verse.

 

Beyond the rose-clipped fence -- a feast of tree

and sea of shade and hue -- his love asleep

and moist with dew. Shall he awake her from

her simple sleep, unlace his dream and seed

his shame, express a need, embrace her flame?

 

He locks the gate and strides away to worm

the wrinkled book where minds in hunger roam.

He kneels and binds his hands in prayer with words

to root and free his soul, with empty thud

of nail in flesh [that boils], then chills his blood.

 

[the boils part I added just as an example to complete the meter]

 

Of course, whether you choose a free form or metrical layout, the language will work either way. I hope this helps.

 

 

Tony icon_smile.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many thanks for your help Tony. I've made a few quick edits in line with your advice. In regard to metre/meter and layout, I'm attempting to work away from 'versifying' because I have neither the ear for it and it feels 'archaic' (just my opinion).

 

You gave a good, honest feedback in my opinion

 

many thanks

 

badge icon_biggrin.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You're welcome, Badge! icon_biggrin.png Thanks for posting the revision, too! I hope in the future, other members will jump in so you can get even more feedback on poems you post in the workshop, but as you know, the site is newly established, and traffic (especially in the workshop) is slow.

 

I hope you will also post the revision in Member Poetry or Unlimited, becasue I'm sure those members who don't want to participate in the workshop would love to comment on it too.

 

My best,

 

Tony icon_biggrin.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm sure there will be further 'recruits'. Joel posts at Poetry Critical so is familiar with more 'critical' feedback. I've started gathering some thoughts on your poem. Will post a response later today.

 

cheers

 

badge

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi badger, Tony had already done a very thorough critique of your poem when I first noticed it here and so I let it alone. But came back to see your rerwrite, which I think improved an already very good poem.

 

The first line rerwrite smoothed out the small stumble pointed out by Tony which I too stumbled on in my first read of your original. The change from "her flame" to "the flame" seemed a brilliant solution in L9. It softened the appearance of a possible cliche and still allowed the rhyme to stay.

 

I found the content of the poem to be intriguing, from the title followed by evidence of his humanity, down to the binding of his hands in prayer. The conflict was immediately apparent. You told the story masterfully.

 

What I liked best about your poem was the sound. First, meter, as Tony pointed out it could easily have become blank verse, but I enjoyed it more as free form. It is more attractive to the eye and feels more now. The rhythm is still there with a natural pleasing flow. And my favorite part, your use of internal rhyme, assonance and alliteration was wonderfully executed. It was modern and yet carried the ancient undertone which suited the content as well as being very pleasing to my ear.

 

This poem rang in my head as a very modern example of the skills of the ancient Welsh bards. The ancient bards first and always wrote their poems with cynghanedd, (harmony of sound) which was the controlled echoing of sound through consonance, alliteration and assonance to offset any over emphasis of true rhyme and balance the sound. You brought that to the table with this poem and I loved it. And as a student of form, I couldn't let that go unnoticed.

 

~~Tink

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What I liked best about your poem was the sound. It was modern and yet carried the ancient undertone...

 

I must admit Tink I'm unconvinced by the 'sound' of this poem, but I do like the notion of 'modern' and the undertone of past traditions. As always I appreciate your support and thoughtfulness. Your comments on 'balance' are well worth listening to. From your response I understand you felt Tony highlighted the weaknesses, but I'm sure you know I appreciate any 'flaws' being suggested that I've overlooked or ignored.

I look forward to your suggestions in further workshopping.

 

hope all is well with you

 

badge

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Badge,

 

I, too, agree that you have done a fantastic job with the revision. As Tinker has already pointed out, you cleared up the matter of the hyphen, and the flame is a fantastic fix for her flame. When I read each version, I admit I was stuck, and could not see another word or expression that would fit. I had not even considered the possibility of changing the adjective to an article. Now, flame is a metaphor for the priest's desire, and it's no longer an abstraction somehow connected to the object of his desire.

 

As for my blank verse musings, they stem from my recently having learned a linguistic fact, namely that English is primarily an iambic language. This gave me an appreciation for meter and the musical possibilities that exist in iambic verse, not just iambic pentameter. But the iambic cadences of the English language are not limited to traditional verse; they are found in free form poetry, and they certainly saturate prose. When it comes to being able to write musically in English, a writer either has the ability or s/he doesn't. The language in this poem has a pleasing musicality that's prevalent no matter how the poem is styled. In my view, that's a good thing.

 

As you probably already know, Badge, James Wright is my favorite poet. What turned me on to Wright wasn't his metrical poetry (of which there is an abundance) but his free verse. In the 1950's Wright, Robert Bly, Donald Hall, Louis Simpson, and other contemporaries of Wright began exploring the possibilities of what they referred to as the "new style." Wright himself did not favor abandoning iambics altogether, but he obviously fully embraced the possibilities of language in free form poetry -- the "new style." Yes, Wright started out as a poet writing metrical verse, but I refused to even look at his metrical stuff, until I learned a little bit about meter and, ultimately, tried writing in iambic pentameter. Only then did I start to also glance at his metrical poetry. His metrical verse is certainly competent -- he had mastered it --but overall I prefer his free verse ten to one. I think this has to do with the subject matters he incorporated into it at that stage in his life, and (of course) because it's good! When Summayya gets here, she will post a link to an interview with James Wright, which she found. It's one of the best things I have ever read, from a master poet, where he discusses many things including a little bit about metrical verse and its possibilities.

 

So please don't see my blank verse suggestion as a put-down of free verse. Quite to the contrary, I love free verse. I certainly haven't abandoned reading or writing it. The blank verse suggestion was merely the result of my having detected a certain musicality in the language of "Priest." And, I'm sure Wright would agree, this musicality is present in the language of this poem regardless of whether the poem is cast in blank verse or styled as it is now, in a free form.

 

I did notice your and Tinker's fine critiques of my "Winnipeg" poem. One point in particular that I found fascinating -- it utterly blew me away! -- was when you stated that, " ... 'melodic' softens a poem for me. I like the 'pristine' original." I have never heard this or even considered such a possibility, and I will reread both your critiques several more times and let all of it gel before I comment within that thread. I have always strived to write lyrical poetry, but that statement alone has opened up the possibility of other types of poetry that I may be missing or ignoring. I will thank you then when I reply there, but I'm thanking you in advance here, too.

 

Tony

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi badge,

 

 

Your poems always have great sonority and as Tink has observed, your use of alliterations, internal rhymes, assonance work well in giving the poem musicality and a wonderful sonorous tone. There's a lingering effect in your use of the long "e" ( tree, sleep, need, kneels, free) and also the "o" (rose, love, moist, locks, worm, book, roam, blood) which enhance the sensuousness of the images you use and their juxtapositions.

 

 

Another element which you use well is the way you extend the dictionary meaning of a word to evoke certain images. To quote two examples here :

The use of "hue" to suggest light - an excellent subtle use of metaphor, which is quite common in Chinese and Japanese poetic forms. The other is "unlace the dream" - here in the second instant, the "unlace" gives "dream" which is abstract, a physical sense, which gives it an erotic charge.

 

 

Yet, another aspect of your writing which this poem shows to good effect is the elusiveness of the images - they certainly engage the reader but they suggest so many different interpretations - this opening up of the poem to the reader's imagination is very effective. In the end, as Mellarme and Elliot both observed, a poem must create it s own pre-semantic force/attraction and world and how the reader enters this and engages is not the poet's mission ( perhaps I've phrased this rather awkwardly!).

 

 

A thought I would leave you with is that you often chop and change a work and sometimes I wonder if this drastic editing works against your initial instinct of what the poem meant, before the hounds of doubt began snapping at your poetic heels.

 

 

goldenlangur

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A thought I would leave you with is that you often chop and change a work and sometimes I wonder if this drastic editing works against your initial instinct of what the poem meant, before the hounds of doubt began snapping at your poetic heels.

 

hi gl

 

I wondered if this poem had possibilities beyond the Romantic genre. I still feel the 'weight' of theme needs more than this kind of 'music'.

 

I like to experiment in a workshop situation, which I see as an opportunity to step outside my 'box'. The experience educates my instincts icon_biggrin.png

 

the "unlace" gives "dream" which is abstract, a physical sense, which gives it an erotic charge.

 

My exact intention!

 

many thanks my friend

 

badge

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi badge,

 

The point you make here is very much what I wondered about:

 

badger11 wrote:

 

I wondered if this poem had possibilities beyond the Romantic genre. I still feel the 'weight' of theme needs more than this kind of 'music'.

 

I read this poem more as a mental and spiritual dilemma of the protagonist than as a "romantically" themed poem. The erotically charged images being more a torment than an actual physical experience. In this connection I wondered if you would consider a more particular reference to the "text"/ book he fingers - perhaps St. Augustine's City of God with its exploration of such individual torment and guilt. Perhaps adding a little more detail to the person's circumstances than just alluding to this juxtaposition of physical sensuousness and his torment?

 

The "weight" of "theme" would be enhanced in this way.

 

 

This is only a suggestion, badge, for you to ignore or consider.

 

 

goldenlangur

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Many thanks gl. You've definitely given me some motivation to work on this, make it more grounded and less 'poetic'.

 

badge icon_biggrin.png

 

 

More grounded would not make your work "less poetic" - your voice will come through beautifully, I believe, my friend icon_smile.gif

 

 

 

goldenlangur

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Being new here, I’ll never catch up with all the goodies. So much has been said about this poem that I run the danger of repeating what you have already heard. I perplexed by your “I'm attempting to work away from 'versifying' because I have neither the ear for it and it feels 'archaic' (just my opinion).

 

But ‘versifying’ is exactly what you have done, and done it well. It is not something a poet sets out to do but manages to accomplish when trying to enshrine, on paper, his innermost and genuine reflections on life. Seems you use the word thinking it means what others, not able to do it naturally, think it means.

 

All things considered, my best bet to give you something worthwhile to chew on is to rewrite your poem in a way that I think is syntactically more effective. In my opinion, each of the points you make are beautifully simple, and each deserves to be savored and lingered on separately and more than possible when crowding several of them into a single line/verse/turn. The shorter lines reflect that you are exposing the fever the ‘priest’ is trying to resist. When ‘versifying’ free verse, Lewis Turko sees syntactic prosody at work, i.e., organizing lines to coincide w/ parts of speech or parts of sentence, whichever the case of the instant may be.

 

I have taken the liberty of inserting (in red) a few pieces you may or may not need. Same for strike-outs. I could say more, but, without your response, it might be w/o real meaning.

 

Beyond

the rose-clipped fence… [elipsis to suggest some suitable verb w/o which sentence is flat.]

a feast

of tree and sea,

of shade and hue,

his love asleep

and moist with dew.

 

Shall he awake her

from such simple sleep,

unlace the dream

and seed his shame,

express a need,

embrace the flame.? [Not a question but his hesitancy/doubt to do what he should not.]

 

He locks the gate and strides away

to worm the wrinkled book

where minds in hunger roam.

He kneels

and binds

his hands in prayer

with words [slash for optional line break in response to below.]

to root and free /(?) his soul [To root yes, but in what? esp. when simultaneously freeing it.]

with hollow(?) empty thud

of nail-in-flesh

that chills

his blood.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I must admit Waxwings I'd abandoned this poem (I have too many versions!)

 

It is his sleep, the sleep of his religious vocation, and by waking the consequence is damnation.

 

root/free - basically keeping his faith, sacrificing the needs of the flesh, and finding release from self.

 

Loved your choice of 'hollow' and agree with the need for a verb in the opening ( the first verse is so weak, so 'twee', I'll probably cut it all together - be more immediate).

 

I feel there is more 'music' in the longer line, or at least feel defeated if I start chopping.

 

Many thanks again.

 

badge

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now

×

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.