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Benjamin

A balance of mind.

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Benjamin

twisted and old, the gurning faces

 

peer from trunks of silver-grey, lichen-green and black.

 

form a kind of daily inkblot test,

 

indicate

 

a balance of mind.

 

to be avuncular, friendly and comical

 

or gargoyle, and pour boiling scorn on everyone.

 

today is good--- and

 

gargoyles are

 

just ornaments that channel rain

Edited by Benjamin

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tonyv

Super poem, Benjamin. I couldn't find "gurn" in the dictionary, so I had to go to the net. Initially, the pictures I found on Google Image were a bit disturbing, but taken in the context of the poem, it all makes perfect sense. A balance of mind -- I love how you wrap it up: Gargoyles are/Just ornaments that channel rain.

 

Tony


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

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Benjamin

Thanks Tony I'm glad you liked it. There are parts of rural England where they still hold 'gurning' competitions. People remove their dentures to pull ugly/comical faces through a horse collar or the frame of a toilet seat. :icon_cyclops: This is a single stanza taken from a six stanza poem I wrote relating to October. Benjamin.

Edited by Benjamin

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dedalus

The phrasing is not reader-friendly (OK, weird) but the content is spot-on!! Right on target.


Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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waxwings
Twisted and old: the gurning faces

 

Peer from trunks of silver-grey, lichen-green and black.

 

Form a kind of daily inkblot test.

 

Indicate

 

A balance of mind:

 

To be avuncular, friendly and comical;

 

Or gargoyle, and pour boiling scorn on everyone.

 

Today is good! And

 

Gargoyles are

 

Just ornaments that channel rain.

 

Dear Benjamin. I bid you welcome. I like your poetic bent, but wonder: are you more old fashioned (and older) than I? Why the caps at start of every line. While not forbidden, that has gone out of style quite a while ago, primarily since it tends to signal the start of a new sentence, but you do not put a period after the last word before the Cap letter.

 

I concur w/Daedalus that the sense of your poem is spot on, but I had to do a bit of mental editing to remove the interference by those caps , the weird punctuation (esp. the colons), also the phrasing.

 

If you disagree with my take, don't be afraid to respond. My comments/review (I am not criticizing in the sense some take it to mean but want to encourage you to do what is likely to make your so far significant poems stronger and easier to read.

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Benjamin

Hello dedalus and waxwings.

My thanks for reading and leaving constructive comments.

I am fully aware of current punctuation trends. Initially I was going to post this without capitals and punctuation. My intention was to clarify the concept promoted; I seem to have gone a little too far. I agree that dated capitals and punctuation should be limited. As I pointed out to Tony earlier, this is a single stanza (the fifth) from a six stanza poem, with October as it's theme. The rest is punctuated as prose, minus capitals:-) although the syllabic structure of the stanzas are identical. I'll probably post it at a more appropriate time of the year. My aging ears are always open to critique whichever way it goes. Benjamin

Edited by Benjamin

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waxwings
Hello dedalus and waxwings.

My thanks for reading and leaving constructive comments.

I am fully aware of current punctuation trends. Initially I was going to post this without capitals and punctuation. My intention was to clarify the concept promoted; I seem to have gone a little too far. I agree that dated capitals and punctuation should be limited. As I pointed out to Tony earlier, this is a single stanza (the fifth) from a six stanza poem, with October as it's theme. The rest is punctuated as prose, minus capitals:-) although the syllabic structure of the stanzas are identical. I'll probably post it at a more appropriate time of the year. My aging ears are always open to critique whichever way it goes. Benjamin

 

I don't know that there is a 'current' punctuation trend. If anything, and deplorably so, in a great deal of newer writers tend to miss the fact that punctuation is a most useful tool, as the previous generations of poets have found, of immesurable value to keep clear the kind of twisted syntax that is typical of poetry as a special language, which has to reveal what in our lives is beyond mere knowhow and belief. In that, I mean a language that has a special mission, that of transmitting feelings and/or emotional experience.

 

I am militant about prose-like punctuation, but to avid such as are intrusive to my poetic sense and enjoyment of poems: namely parentheses and semicolons, for the latter have a purpose, but only in longer , complex sentences where chunks that in themselves contain commas etc. and separate such chunks in order to not confuse/mix the separate notions they present to create the enforcement possible by parallelism only.

 

We still use the same words that we would when writing prose. Prose is not anti-thetical to poetry, and poems were and esp. now are being written in either of the two modes of expression: either prose or verse.

 

As for caps, the trend to dispense with them was rather brief. It was only those who thought they would overwhelm the reader with their 'moderness' that kept imitating what e e c started. But he was a master of poetry and did not let his special apttitude overshadow that.. It is quite OK to still start a sentence, any sentence, no matter how brief, with a capital letter.

 

I am glad you donot see every comment or reaction as a criticism and understand that the term 'critique' is anything but that.

 

Here is an edit of your poem in question. I find that approach to commenting a more concise way of saying where I think your poetic thrust could perhaps be strengthened. It is not critical nor advissory, merely suggestive, like urging you to do your very best, considering the sense of maturity the central idea exhudes. The syllabically parallel structure of your stanzas may not be meaningful when wach stanza is presented apart from the others.

 

I find your re?phrasing fine, but other ways of separation, by line break or punctuation, is worth while considering.

 

Mychanges and comments are in red font. The magenta marks parallel verbs in a compouns predicate.

 

Twisted and old, those gurning faces

peer from trunks of silver-grey

and lichen-green and black, ~~~ Perhaps 'and" would be better than comma, sice you have compound adjectives.

form a kind of daily inkblot test, ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Why, or do you mean "everyday" or something of that nature?

indicate a balance of mind ~~~ That seems a too emotion-less choice of synonims.

--to be avuncular, friendly and comical--

or gargoyle, and pour boiling scorn on everyone. ~~~ Why give away that wonderful twist in the otherwise excellent closure.

Today is good.... And

gargoyles

are

just ornaments that channel rain.

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Tinker

Hi Benjamin, I found this piece fascinating. Never heard of gurning but with the comments that followed, didn't have to look it up. I love the imagary of the last 3 lines... that is poetry.

 

~~Tink


~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

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

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Benjamin

waxwings

I appreciate your in depth comments and have copied your notes for further reference. Re: presentation. It seems on the one hand there are those who say there are no rules; on the other there are those who love the rules because they know them. I think this piece is self-explanatory and examines a certain type of logic.

My poetry catalogue embraces numerous formats both traditional and modern.

I also believe that to achieve a perfect flexibility, controlled by rigid discipline, the answer is provided by a system based on syllabic count without regular stress pattern. This system, regularly adopted in the literature of many foreign languages that have weak stresses, has appeared only occasionally in English literature, with its strong stresses. The criticism of the syllabic count system depends upon the individual’s reading and perception; that is to say, it may be true for some readers, but it is certainly not true for all. There is an answer to the general accusation of ‘artificiality’. The artist, when faced with an infinite number of possibilities, is quite powerless: For example; the painter requires a framework, the composer a tone-row or some other convention, and the poet a planned structure. Within his self-imposed discipline, the artist can then begin work.

 

A poem has to be beautiful and witty first of all and last of all. Nothing else matters. If it's not aesthetically pleasing, it's simply not worth anyone's time, and that includes the time taken to produce it.. Meaning then, is meaningless, and poetry becomes a pretty bauble to look at, but to take nothing from. This is the problem at times, too, for poets who substitute intellect or wit for passion. Good poetry makes you think.

 

Tink. My thanks for reading and leaving comment

Edited by Benjamin

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tonyv

Great discussion. I'd like to jump in and say I miss the capitals where you had them, Benjamin, where I'm accustomed to seeing them, especially since periods are in use. And you make some very interesting points about syllabic meter. I think your reply here would fit perfectly into Waxwings' new topic, "Poetry and the Rest" in the Literary Discussion forum. Shall I move yours to that topic? (Of course, if you'd rather simply keep it here, that's okay, too.)

 

Tony


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

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Benjamin

Hi again Tony.

I think I would prefer it if you let the comments remain here. My preference is to write and post purely for pleasure. I respond to most comments although usually choose to refrain from lengthy debate. Regards Benjamin

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tonyv

That's quite all right, Benjamin. Everybody has his preference and his own pace here. No pressure at all.

 

Tony :)


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

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Aleksandra

What a nice poem, Benjamin. I like the way of describing at the beginning of this poem. This poem of mood is very nice one. Thank you for sharing.

 

Aleksandra


The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth - Jean Cocteau

History of Macedonia

 

 

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waxwings
waxwings

I appreciate your in depth comments and have copied your notes for further reference. Re: presentation. It seems on the one hand there are those who say there are no rules; on the other there are those who love the rules because they know them. I think this piece is self-explanatory and examines a certain type of logic.

Thank you for grateful acceptace of my comments. Hope you do not think me a 'rule' lover, for, if anything, I would like us to be mutual admirers, and you seem to be of the other persuasion, something that is not borne out by your rather complex second next paragraph. I wonder what you classify as 'rules'. All I know, there are multitudinous ways of stringing words and ideas into a seamless and self-consistent whole. I like your piece, but what makes it self explanatory? If it is, it is not for me to guess, but for you to explain what you mean. I see it as a slightly irreverent observation re gargoyles. It is rhythmically pleasant regardless of the line breaks. While there are some vocalic echoes, the patterns are carried locally, not throughout the poem. Makes mee think of a mix of accentual and Welsh verse and some of the oriental syllabic stuff (see tinker's gallery)

 

My poetry catalogue embraces numerous formats both traditional and modern.

 

I also believe that to achieve a perfect flexibility, controlled by rigid discipline, the answer is provided by a system based on syllabic count without regular stress pattern. This system, regularly adopted in the literature of many foreign languages that have weak stresses, has appeared only occasionally in English literature, with its strong stresses. The criticism of the syllabic count system depends upon the individual’s reading and perception; that is to say, it may be true for some readers, but it is certainly not true for all. There is an answer to the general accusation of ‘artificiality’. The artist, when faced with an infinite number of possibilities, is quite powerless: For example; the painter requires a framework, the composer a tone-row or some other convention, and the poet a planned structure. Within his self-imposed discipline, the artist can then begin work.

 

I would be glad to pay heed to a piecemeal clarification/dissection of the numerous requirements/constraints/qualifications. You seem to have tried to impress me by the width of your intellect all in one paragraph, while I prefer to be patient and can tell much by the vocabulary in a few separated simpler sentences.

 

I am multi-lingual, much interested in linguistics: in general and in compariing how differemt tongues are similar but different. I would like to have a list of those weakly stressed languages as well as the other kind. I ask all that because I find your thoughts/ideas believable and of great interest.

 

Looking forward to getting to know you even better.

 

 

 

A poem has to be beautiful and witty first of all and last of all. Nothing else matters. If it's not aesthetically pleasing, it's simply not worth anyone's time, and that includes the time taken to produce it.. Meaning then, is meaningless, and poetry becomes a pretty bauble to look at, but to take nothing from. This is the problem at times, too, for poets who substitute intellect or wit for passion. Good poetry makes you think.

 

Seems you are contradicting yoursef, i.e., it seems it takes intellect to be both witty and passionate, and is a pretty bauble not beautiful in a way. Besides, the many accomplished poets I have conversed with think that it is a major no-no for poets to merely call something, even a poem, beautiful instead of letting its content say that. Would you say that such as Bishop's "The art of loosing isn't hard to master" has a meaningless meaning, is not intellectual, does not make one think and shows no passion?

 

Tink. My thanks for reading and leaving comment

 

I am glad you are on board. We may have some most interesting and telling discussions/arguments. We can get along well without outright lengthy debate. In poetry there is very little that is hard and fast, and pinnable down by mere intellect.

Edited by waxwings

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Benjamin

waxwings.

I write poetry purely for the pleasure of expressing my own thoughts in the hope they may give similar pleasure or relate in some way to whomsoever chooses to read. Critique is fine, but to validate every dot and comma and explain each metaphor seems rather like defending a dissertation. That is not what why I post. I did not intentionally seek to impress you intellectually nor do I regard myself as intellectual; neither do I think of you as a 'rule lover' as I know very little about you. I agree there are “multitudinous ways of stringing words and ideas into a seamless and self-consistent whole” from the traditional 'accepted' forms, to the modern 'manufactured' syllabic forms, i.e: cinquain, triquain, septolet, lune, etc. Even 'Free-verse' (which in my view, is anything but free). I say this specifically because our normal speech has regular patterns which undulate up and down (unlike a robotic speaking clock). This gives colour and meaning to what we say. When the imagery of what we want to say is converted into words, we stress syllables in our speech rhythmically, whether we are aware of it or not. A simple example... “I wish you'd shut that bloody door!” 'Free-versers' deliberately avoiding form, rhythmic iambs, syllabic count etc: cannot avoid stress and tone to emphasise their imagery and meaning. If this were not so, all they would have is an abstract composition of prose with line-breaks. If the poet wishes to make lines fluent and attractive, stressed syllable management has to be considered, arguably making lines 'cadenced'. There are of course, those who prefer the minimalist forms of haiku etc; where the poem relies on the ability (and willingness) of a reader to decipher it's meaning, rather like a cryptic crossword clue. If however, one chooses to display a certain literacy, creative ability, fused with a love of poetic language, why use such a few words. The practise of eloquence is satisfying and I believe it can transport an audience to where the poet wants them to go. At the risk of sounding dispassionate, (hopefully not rude,) I prefer not to discuss my life and books I have read, there are numerous other forums specifically for such debate. Suffice it to say that the time I have spent in writing responses to this short poem, I could have perhaps used to compose detailed notes for another one. :rolleyes: Benjamin

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Benjamin

Aleksandra, I thankyou for reading and your kind response, I hope to reciprocate in due course. Benjamin.

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waxwings
waxwings.

I write poetry purely for the pleasure of expressing my own thoughts in the hope they may give similar pleasure or relate in some way to whomsoever chooses to read. Critique is fine, but to validate every dot and comma and explain each metaphor seems rather like defending a dissertation. That is not what why I post. I did not intentionally seek to impress you intellectually nor do I regard myself as intellectual; neither do I think of you as a 'rule lover' as I know very little about you. I agree there are “multitudinous ways of stringing words and ideas into a seamless and self-consistent whole” from the traditional 'accepted' forms, to the modern 'manufactured' syllabic forms, i.e: cinquain, triquain, septolet, lune, etc. Even 'Free-verse' (which in my view, is anything but free). I say this specifically because our normal speech has regular patterns which undulate up and down (unlike a robotic speaking clock). This gives colour and meaning to what we say. When the imagery of what we want to say is converted into words, we stress syllables in our speech rhythmically, whether we are aware of it or not. A simple example... “I wish you'd shut that bloody door!” 'Free-versers' deliberately avoiding form, rhythmic iambs, syllabic count etc: cannot avoid stress and tone to emphasise their imagery and meaning. If this were not so, all they would have is an abstract composition of prose with line-breaks. If the poet wishes to make lines fluent and attractive, stressed syllable management has to be considered, arguably making lines 'cadenced'. There are of course, those who prefer the minimalist forms of haiku etc; where the poem relies on the ability (and willingness) of a reader to decipher it's meaning, rather like a cryptic crossword clue. If however, one chooses to display a certain literacy, creative ability, fused with a love of poetic language, why use such a few words. The practise of eloquence is satisfying and I believe it can transport an audience to where the poet wants them to go. At the risk of sounding dispassionate, (hopefully not rude,) I prefer not to discuss my life and books I have read, there are numerous other forums specifically for such debate. Suffice it to say that the time I have spent in writing responses to this short poem, I could have perhaps used to compose detailed notes for another one. :rolleyes: Benjamin

 

A most wonderful and reasonably concise reaction. You seem to prove the contrary of your claim not beeing intellectual. The length of your arguments and mine tends to say we are not dealing with simplistic matters. Obviously educated statements re many aspects of poem types are of interest but must be expanded to appeal to the less erudite. I love and agree in the main on your take on how stresses arise. However In my considerable years of writing essays and poems, I have never deliberately 'managed' stress configuration. And I consider eloquence managed in fewer words to be the greater. That is where a better command of a language comes in.

 

Your passage on validation perplexes. A critique, if honest, will point out a poems/manuscripts strengths and weaknesses in, advisedly, a 2 to 1 ratio. Instead of a critique I comment and, hopefully, only commeasurately with the author's erudition to as much as I can guess it, touch on gaffes in writing/or language mechanics that should have been mastered in grade school.

 

I never criticize a poem as such. Novices abound, esp. today, that clearly have capability of seeing things in a poetic way, while abhorring a penchant for clear writing. I sincerely wish , in any poor way I may, to help them realize on their own they can improve on the latter. If I have misjudged, I do not mind when they let me know it.

 

Discussion and argument are great because, unlike debate, there are no antagonists, no sides nor winners and loosers.

 

And no need to dispair over time spent discussing this short poem. It is your choice and mine, in turn, to abstain from continuing, but if your excellent and significant poem were perfect, we would have nothing to discuss, would not learn about each other and not really know how good the poem is. :icon_eek:

Edited by waxwings

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Benjamin

I appreciate and note your wise words. Benjamin.

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badger11

Neatly crafted B. and though I wouldn't want the definition of a 'balanced mind' - my preference being for a more colourful experience - I agree with Tink on the poetry of the concluding lines.

 

badge

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Benjamin

Thanks Badge, I confess that when I wrote this stanza my wry sense of humour was at work and I had hoped a little of it would shine through. B :icon_sunny:

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