Jump to content
Poetry Magnum Opus
Lake

Yellow River, Red Drum (edit)

Recommended Posts

Lake

Yellow Earth, Red Drum

 

Revision 1

Back to the primitive wilderness, beasts fled

at the sound of your sheep-skinned drum;

on the ancient battlefield, terra cotta soldiers

were marching to your alarming beat.

O yellow earth, pray to God for rain and grain

raise your arms to the sky, you rhythmic dance.

O yellow earth, worship spirits and ancestors,

Hai! Hai! you vigorous drummer.

 

The Loess Plateau, the color of Yellow River

wave after wave, laced with dazzling sun halos.

The waist drum, the fervor of ripened sorghum

flames the fields, awakens the endless silence.

Look, thousands upon thousands of men and horses

emerge from a large billowing dust.

Listen, the thunder, the hurricane

rumble the ground, sweep the clouds

 

Young swarthy faces glimmer with sweat, strong arms

brandish red ribbon sticks. Going wild, intoxicated, rapt.

The power from millet, dirt, muddy water erupts.

Not only the solid soil you firmly tread

nor the orange storm that swells over thousands of miles,

but the pulse of the land with which your heart beats,

the nostalgia for your hometown, the love of life.

O, the paean to the soul of the nation you sing.

 

 

Original

Back to this primitive wilderness, wild beasts fled

at your sheep-skinned drum;

on this ancient battlefield, terra cotta soldiers marching

to your alarming drum beat.

O yellow earth, praying to God for rain and grain

raising arms to the sky, you drumming dance.

O yellow earth, worshiping spirits and ancestors,

Hai! Hai! you dancing drum.

 

The Loess Plateau, the color of Yellow River

wave after wave, laced with dazzling sun halos.

The waist drum, the fervor of ripened sorghum

flaming the fields, awakening the endless silence.

Look, thousands upon thousands of men and horses

emerging from billowing yellow dust.

Listen, the thunder, the hurricane

rumbling the land, sweeping the sky.

 

Young swarthy faces glimmer with sweat, naked arms

brandish drum sticks. Going wild, intoxicated, rapt.

The volcano eruption, the power of millet, dirt, muddy water.

Not only the yellow soil you tread

nor the yellow dust that rises over thousands of miles,

but the pulse of the land with which your heart beats,

the nostalgia for your hometown, the love of life,

O, the paean to the soul of the nation you sing.

Edited by Lake

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
waxwings

This appeals to me being, I think, unabashedly patriotic, singnig of the land that is in your blood. That is for the art part. I leave the craft part for when you say more, and I certainly cannot pretend I recognize all the symbolism.

 

waxwings

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lake

Hi waxwings,

 

Thank you very much for your read and comment.

 

"unabashedly patriotic" - that's what I am afraid of, being blatant, if that's what you mean. This is my first effort to write a poem of praise, celebrating the "drum dance". Most of the comments on my poems I have received are "tender", "quiet", so I'd like to have a change, that's why I wrote this. Very raw, I know. I'm looking forward to more critiques.

 

"I certainly cannot pretend I recognize all the symbolism." - I understand some symbols are universal while some are local. I too have difficulty recognizing all the symbolism in other cultures. Before posting it here, I showed this to a friend of mine, her first reaction was "there are so many similarities in your culture and the culture of Native Americans."

 

"I leave the craft part for when you say more" - Now I've done my talking and I'm ready to listen to your and others' suggestions wrt craft, how to soften and tune down the tone.

 

Thanks again for your time and feedback.

 

Lake

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
waxwings
Hi waxwings,

 

Thank you very much for your read and comment.

 

"unabashedly patriotic" - that's what I am afraid of, being blatant, if that's what you mean. This is my first effort to write a poem of praise, celebrating the "drum dance". Most of the comments on my poems I have received are "tender", "quiet", so I'd like to have a change, that's why I wrote this. Very raw, I know. I'm looking forward to more critiques.

 

"I certainly cannot pretend I recognize all the symbolism." - I understand some symbols are universal while some are local. I too have difficulty recognizing all the symbolism in other cultures. Before posting it here, I showed this to a friend of mine, her first reaction was "there are so many similarities in your culture and the culture of Native Americans."

 

"I leave the craft part for when you say more" - Now I've done my talking and I'm ready to listen to your and others' suggestions wrt craft, how to soften and tune down the tone.

 

Thanks again for your time and feedback.

 

Lake

 

Unfortunately, I find too many Americans incapable of being unabashedly patriotic. My people, the Latvians, rather few in numbers, suffered about 500 years of total foreign power's occupation/domination till 1918 and again, from 1939 thru 1992, without loosing their culture and language. To us the land, its crops and the sweat and blood we have shed are holy. We think of ourselves as if plants that grew fro that soil and long to return too it.

 

I am glad someone could see the similarities between the experiences/culture of Native Americans and your people. The tribalism and the veneration of indigent spirits and the land is similar to me. However, to do your poem full credit or offer any empowering edits I would need to know more thoroughly, in prose, the details of the activities you allude to, because they are not as such familiar.

 

You may want to do that via a PM to not fill this thread with parts others may have already grasped.

 

The poem definitely 'reeks' of power, and I would like to know why.

 

waxwings

Edited by waxwings

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lake

Hi again,

 

Walt Whitman is the number one American patriotic poet in my opinion.

 

Thank you, waxwings for your willingness to help, but to write a prose paraphrase of the poem? I've never done that before, but I can try. Maybe not sentence by sentence, just the general idea. Will that help?

 

You know, I'm not always clear of what the next line will be in composing a poem. Sometimes, the finished poem is different than what was in my mind.

 

I'll try my best.

 

Lake

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tinker

Hi Lake, This poem has passion and I like it very much. As your friend already mentioned it is reminisant of Native American poetry in that it speaks of the land and its heart beat.

 

It is late and I will come back to this but at first read, the poem moved me.

 

Awesome title.

 

~~Tink


~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
douglas

i love it! great!


To receive love, you have to give it...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lake

Thank you Tinker and Douglas for your kind words. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

 

Tinker, glad you liked the title.

 

Thank you.

 

Lake

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lake

waxwings,

 

Did you receive my PM? It's the first time I used it, not sure where it went since I didn't see it in my sent items box.

 

Thanks,

 

Lake

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
waxwings

Thanks for sending me that great overview of what has driven you to write the poem in question. I will strive by and by to answer any quextions you may have. It may take days for me to absorb all you have given me and to make suggestions. It is quite usual that a 'right' poem can be 'fixed' with rather few dits. The work is in you deciding which of them are right for younand your poem.

 

A right poem, such as this one of yours is born in a moment. That moment is filled with a thousand impressions of which only the emotionally most significant can be retained. Like any 'memory' it must then be synthesized into what I think as a first or rough draft. Any poet worth her or his salt will revise that draft over and over again. The problem is that revision does not ever want to end. However, with time, a poet learns there is a point at which the desire to make a poem stronger (make it say all that was somehow intended at that one first moment) results in needless agony, and learns it is time to not meddle with it any more.

 

The agony remains but becomes bearable, especially because the poet has more to say and cannot waste mental energy on just one or two poems.

 

A proper first draft (and I have read many) I think is relevant to whether the poem is worth while pursuing. Not all of us, nor all of our poems are of this quality. I certainly have some which I know I cannot finish, because it is the nature of the poetic impulse to reach for the unattainable.

 

Another point is that the right poem tends to write itself, and there is nothing one can do to bend it, by revision, to something it then, contrary to our desire, appears to not want to say.

 

Thus revision is necessary but should not be pursued for, fortunately, it has no bitter end. It is more true for those of us that, like I, get irrevocably disconnected from our source, the mother tongue, and the culture, tradition and mores we suck up with mother,s milk and father's sweat.

 

When writing in a, at first, foreign tongue, we must take time to immerse ourselves in that other culture, untill we find the grand similarities of mankind that are the same regardless of the language. We must learn to think about our heritage in terms the reader knowing only his own can assimilate and appreciate.

 

More generally, grammar is not something that is forced on us by teachers and others but a roadmap created over millenia by our ancestors to enable us to communicate in a emotionally meaningful and engaging fashion.

 

It is hard but not impossible, and you are not to loose faith in your own goodness and your mission. Yes poets are born to a mission and given a talent which will count for nothing if not exercised and polished.

 

I am at your disposal to the extent there is "world and time enough" to share whatever of value the thoughts I have.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
waxwings

Lake,

 

This is merely a sample of how I might see what you are talking about. Some of the edits may seem drastic but, I think, necessary to Anglicize your emotions to the extent I understand them at this point. Iswill explain each change/edit after you express your reactions to them.

 

One generalization though is that the title should be abait to entice the reader into the poem. It should not necessarily tell the reader what the poem is about. A. Homer (not the one who wrote the Iliad) a teaching poet from Iowa used the following title (saying roughly) "Thoughts while taking my pregnant ex-wife to the hospital" as a means to remove questions of "what is this poem about". A prevalent thgought today is to write a title only after finishing the poem and then deciding how the ending is presaged not told by the title. The title may be right, for one thing is certain that one-word titles should be suspected.

 

Yellow Earth, Red Drum.

 

At the sound of your sheep-skinned drum,

wild beasts fled,

back to that (this) primitive wilderness

where terra cotta soldiers were marching

on (this) ancient battlefield,

to that/(your?) alarming drum beat.

O yellow earth, praying to God

for rain and grain,

raising your arms to the sky,

O yellow earth,

your drumming dance

worshipping spirits and ancestors.

Hai! Hai! to your dancing drum.

Edited by waxwings

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lake

Hi waxwings,

 

I feel you would spend more time editing my poem than I wrote it. :) Your sample is a good example. Perhaps I had too much to say that I failed to express my idea clearly; or perhaps I wanted to be more poetic that I didn't follow the rules... Anyway, I see your point.

 

Title, I thought about it and as you said I tried to find one that's not too direct, explicit but didn't have any I like. A title such as "At the Nation's 60th Anniversary Parade" just sounds too flat. Eventually I landed on these two images as the title. I'll keep thinking.

 

I quite like your revision in V1 where you added "the sound" that's what it meant and you switched the first two sentences, making it sounds more smooth.

 

For some reason, I prefer long lines in this poem, which enables the writer to express his feelings better, I think. But it doesn't mean I reject short lines. I would love to see it is written in two forms for me to compare and feel the difference.

 

Thank you, waxwings for your time and shedding lights on me. Please continue on V2 and V3 if you don't think it takes too much of your time.

 

I need some time to digest the edits you made.

 

Kind regards,

 

Lake

 

FYI, here's a picture of drum dance, look at the yellow dust and red drums.

 

200910139303973734.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tinker

Hi Lake, I can see you are in good hands with waxwings. I won't say much because don't want to interfere with whatever you both have begun.

 

As I said earlier, the title is awesome ... it will draw the reader to the poem. The photo you provide fits the title perfectly. I love it!

 

I have only a few thoughts I would like to share after reading your poem over several times.

 

1. Be careful of the gerund "ing" if you can use the word without the gerund, your word has more power.... I suggest you read your poem and remove all of the "ing" gerunds and only add them back to words that absolutely need them to make sense.

2. Unless you are deliberately using repetition for sonics or emphasis, try not to use the same word more than a couple of times within a stanza. How many times do you the use "drum" in this poem, especially the first strophe? Could you use another word as a substitute for one or two of them like cadence or percussion or tambour? Or could you simply eliminate the word, like instead of drum beat, just use the word beat.

 

These are just ideas to think about... I too like the longer lines.

 

It is the little things that you can tinker with, otherwise the poem is wonderful.

 

~~Tink


~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lake

Tinker,

 

Thank you for your great advice. I removed some "ings" and eliminated some repetitive words as best as I could. I admit I didn't spend enough time on this piece, it was a rush. Thank you for reminding me of these tricks frequently.

 

waxwings,

 

Thank you for your time on my work. I did some minor changes at this time, there might be dramatic changes later on. But for now, here is a tentative V1, see what you think.

 

Back to the primitive wilderness, beasts fled

 

at the sound of your sheep-skinned drum;

 

on the ancient battlefield, terra cotta soldiers

 

advanced to your alarming beat.

 

O yellow earth, pray to God for rain and grain,

 

raise your arms to the sky, you rhythmic dance.

 

O yellow earth, worship spirits and ancestors,

 

Hai! Hai! you vigorous drummer.

 

 

Or maybe I should wait until I see your suggestions on the rest of the poem.

 

 

Many thanks,

 

Lake

Edited by Lake

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tinker

Hi Lake, I didn't do a detailed critique of your poem. I like the original. However, after reading it over a few times I saw some patterns emerge which are things I look for when proof reading over my own work... They were just general suggestions for you to look at. I like the changes you made as a result, you made an already very passionate poem stronger in my opinion. Nice. Do the same to the rest of the poem.

 

It doesn't matter how long it took to write the original poem. And it doesn't matter how long it takes to rewrite it. I tweek my old poems all of the time. I often change something in a poem I wrote years ago. I just changed 1 small word in a poem I wrote in 2004. I don't know why I didn't think of it then. I also keep learning and as I learn I see things in older poems of mine that I would have done differently now. Sometime I fix them, sometime I don't. It depends on how the change will effect the core of the poem.

 

This poem has a dynamic core. Full of color and sound. I could feel the grit of the dust in the air even before I saw the photo.

 

~~Tink


~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
tonyv

A fine discussion taking place here and a fine poem. I love the tone, the raw power, and the color tones -- yellows and reds -- on exhibit in the original. I wonder which one is the Yellow River. Is it the Yangtze?

 

Tony


Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lake

Hi Tony,

 

As I said you read poems attentively.

 

I wonder which one is the Yellow River. Is it the Yangtze?

There are two great rivers run through China; one is the Yellow River in the north, the other is the Yangtze River to the south. Though the Yangzi (another spelling, or Chang Jiang) River is the longest in China and Asia, Chinese people regard Yellow River (Huang He, the second longest in China) as their mother river, the cradle of Chinese civilization, the spiritual home of the Chinese people.

 

I'm still working on the revision. Any suggestions are welcome.

 

Lake

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lake

Hi waxwings,

 

First revision is added. I kind of know it is still not to your liking, but the door is still open for suggestions. :)

 

Thanks and happy holidays.

 

Lake

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
waxwings

What is important is that what is to my liking is your response. It shows that you clearly know being a poet is not easy or quick or instant.

 

It is not hard to edit the better stuff as yours is. I love doing it if I have uninterrupted moments to do it properly. I first must fully digest the thoughts/feelings that lutk behind what yo have managed to say this far. Back in a little while with other thoughts. I merely hope to nudge your most adquate intellect to find your own way of revising/editing your work.

 

Other poets have done that for me and I must return the compliment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.