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Benjamin

I watched him assemble the picture.

Glass, backing-card and passe-partout

sandwiched an English country garden.

The verse was from Dorothy Gurney

though I never felt further from God

and "The kiss of the sun for pardon."

It hung over my bed for years,and

I recall how his voice made me quake.

Piety, mixed with savagery.

How he frightened me, stroking my head

like some dark phrenologist at work,

infusing morals with punishment.

Massaging vanity with hope, his

fingertips disturbing my conscience.

Yes, it hung over my head for years

till now, I found it in the attic

and realise, that single act, was

the closest he came to show me love.

Edited by Benjamin

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waxwings

I am impressed. The notion is clear and so are the images, and each line is sharp, complete, leaving no doubt what you are intending to have it show. I am not sure if the chronological order of the lines was, in spots, the very best that it, in my opinion, could be.

 

I am bothered by a few minutia. I'd love to be more certain whether it is your father or some other person of authority you are recalling fondly, though somewhat sadly. There seem to be a few innuendos I'd rather not mention, being quite likely wrong.

 

I think there are some "and's" that feel like boiler plate, because there are some unneeded ones and , overall, a few too many, that feel being created by last stanza.

 

I would enjoy you supporting/explaining your 'choices', wherefore I show an edited version to point to why this significant poem seems to not say all there is to it, at least not to me.

 

BTW, double-spacing lines within a stanza makes it hard to 'see' the poem as a whole in the screen window.

 

I watched him assemble the picture.

Glass, card, backing and passe-partout(,) ~ separate the subject from the predicate?

sandwiched an English country garden.

It's verse was from Dorothy Gurney, ~ "The verse" because it seems patent it was printed on the picture and not 'posessed by' it.

though I never felt further from God ~ Consider making these the first two lines of stanza, et your emotion/attitude lead.

and “The kiss of the sun for pardon.”

 

It hung over my bed and for years,

and I recall how his voice made me quake--

piety, mixed with savagery.

He frightened me, stroking my head,

like some dark phrenologist at work

infusing morals with punishment.

 

Massaging vanities with hope, ` Singulars are often stronger, raising nmo question what the generalities are.

fingertips distorting (my) conscience. ~ ?"disturbing?"

Yes, it hung over my head for years.

Now, I found it in the attic,

and realise that this one act was

the closest he'd come to showing love. ~ "let his love show" Current fashion is "avoid gerunds except when that is the only true expression.

Edited by waxwings

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Benjamin

Hello waxwings. My thanks for reading and leaving such detailed comment.

 

This is one of those instances where plain-language can be rather deceptive. My intention was to use it as a vehicle to open up alternative lines of thought for the reader. The poem relates to my father who was a hard and uncompromising seafaring man. He was a product of harsh times and values that were instilled in him by his own parents. As a small child I rarely saw him and do not recall any physical inter-action, warmth or even tender words from him to us (my mother and brothers ). He never beat any of us although he had a very loud voice which would make us flinch when he raised it. His volatile nature meant that most conversations invariably ended up with him shouting and us listening. It could perhaps in these more enlightened times, be defined as a kind of mental cruelty. I recall his quiet pleasure at doing skilful things with his hands, such as building radios and ornamental fret-work. Rummaging through my attic recently I found the old picture. It stirred many thoughts of how each successive generation is influenced rightly or wrongly by their predecessors.

 

Your keen eye is appreciated and the points you raise are useful and valid. L2 posed something of a problem with 'overcrowding'. I had hoped the commas would help the reader navigate that line comfortably. L4 “"The verse"” undoubtedly is more apt and your assumption that it was “"printed on the picture"” is correct. I take your point about the over use of “"and"”. It's also an interesting suggestion to use Ls5/6 as openers although I will need to consider this carefully, it could 'muddy the waters' of plain- speak a little later. I note your points in the last six lines particularly re: gerunds (which I am forever pointing out to others). All of this prompts me to some re-writing I will post an edit as a single block of text. My thanks to you for giving this your time. Benjamin.

Edited by Benjamin

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waxwings

Hello waxwings. My thanks for reading and leaving such detailed comment.

 

This is one of those instances where plain-language can be rather deceptive. My intention was to use it as a vehicle to open up alternative lines of thought for the reader. The poem relates to my father who was a hard and uncompromising seafaring man.

 

I find it very difficult to use words of praise that are insufficient and pale before the significance what a poem tries to tell me. Therefore, I work hard and respectfully, to offer thoughts the honing of the way that poem is presented, not because there is anything truely wrong but because I wonder how much honing that poem has the author had time for.

 

I am very glad you have taken my points no further than they should be.

 

I was much surprised to find your father a seafaring man because mine was too, and he too had clever hands capable of fixing anything frow a Swiss warch to a brick wall. He once built a replica of the rifle the Latvian army used in the thirties just to bring up my morale when I was confined doe to a bout with measles.

 

My main thrust is to say that all your lines are near perfect but that there might be an advantage to the impact of your telling to arrange them in a temporal sequence in which all the incidents and/or your observations/impressions/memories took place. Of course, I did some guessing/assuming viewing them from my limited viewpoint. Just do it the way you see it and I will be thrilled to see how it w=winds up

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Aleksandra

Hello, Benjamin. This is a very authentic poem. I imagined the narrator holding a photograph in its hands, and then all the memories in head, coming up with some conclusion. This poem shows a lot. I am impressed. Thank you for sharing.

 

Aleksandra


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

History of Macedonia

 

 

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Benjamin

Aleksandra. My thanks for reading and taking time to leave comment. Benjamin. :)

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Aleksandra

Well, the pleasure is mine to read such a beautiful poetry. Enjoy! :)

 

Aleksandra


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

History of Macedonia

 

 

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dr_con

Powerful rich- semantically open and clear- Really a wondrous work! The image rolled off the page into my eyes and heart- Really superb work!

 

DC&J


Join the Voodoo rEvolution. Classes forming now: http://www.integralvoodoo.org/

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Tinker

Hi Geoff, This is a very powerful piece. At first read I thought possibly the narrator was abused by this person which after reading the comments was not the case.

 

~~Tink


~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

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

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Benjamin

D.C&J. My thanks for reading and leaving such generous comments.

 

Tink I can see how that may be; my intention was to focus on the picture and memories it resurrected.

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tonyv

Despite some of the sentiments, this poem almost borders on being a tribute. There's a thread of understanding for the other that's present in the middle ("stroking my head") and in the realization at the end. In fact, those lines in the middle are among my favorites:

 

... How he frightened me, stroking my head

like some dark phrenologist at work ...

 

I wonder if it would make the poem more powerful to omit lines twelve and thirteen? Period after work and begin the next line with "his." It could read "His fingertips disturbed my conscience." You'd still have the nine syllables. Just a thought ...

 

I, myself, didn't mind the text and spacing of the original. Was it two verses? I think it was. But I also had taken note of the syllabic meter, and, to me, visual is of some importance in syllabic meter. It helps with the flow. But I know next to nothing about it, and even my suggestion above might stick a monkey wrench in that motor.

 

In any case, I loved the poem. One must be willing to look inside himself to write something like this.

 

Tony


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

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Benjamin

Hello Tony many thanks for your input on this. I have edited in some of your suggestions along with some of waxwings' (although exchanging L4/5 for openers didn't feel quite right so I let that one stand). I think your suggestion of dropping L12/13 could work well. It makes the poem seem less 'crowded' without losing it's emotive theme. I've also divided it into 3 stanzas in the hope of making it visually more attractive and easier to read.

 

I watched him assemble the picture.

Glass, backing-card and passe-partout

sandwiched an English country garden.

The verse was from Dorothy Gurney,

though, I never felt further from God

and "The kiss of the sun for pardon."

 

It hung over my bed for years, and

I recall how his voice made me quake.

Piety, mixed with savagery.

How he frightened me, stroking my head

like some dark phrenologist at work.

While his fingers disturbed my conscience.

 

Yes, it hung over my head for years

till now, I found it in the attic

and realised, this single act, was

the closest he came to show me love.

Edited by Benjamin

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waxwings

This reply has two parts that address, respectively, further thoughts re poem and the 'specifications for 'syllabic verse.

 

A. I fully agree w/tonyv re those two lines you have omitted. I did not feel it was the thing to do until I had had time away from the poem. In that respect I cancel my suggestion about moving lines.

 

I analyzed your poem in a manner I apply to all poems I expect to enjoy. First I read it for content to see if it is likely to succeed universally. Next, I look more closely for is rhythmic (not neccessarily metric) and sonic qualities. I then look for grammatical and semantical 'proprietness' of the words (synonyms) chosen. The summary effect of all determines the imaginative consistency, the 'standard' by which poetry is said to be judged.

 

I think your poem fits all those criteria well.

 

I do think tonyv's suggestion re moving that one word is right. That will not change the effect of the nonasyllabic pattern, and it is certain that departures from a syllabic pattern are not against what is known. To that end I wish to point out things about syllabic verse that may not be as well known.

 

B. I find no mention of syllabic verse among tinker's oh so extensive collection on forms etc. Finer details to extend my summary (and more) can be found by googling the term.

 

1. It is not true -- that word stress plays no part in the syllabic prosody of the Proto-Indoeuropean languages of which my native Latvian (Baltic) is one, Italian, Spanish, French, and Slavic languages being the other.

 

2. In brief, line length is determined by the syllable count alone but that applies to accentual syllabic verse as well.

 

3. The syllable count per line may not or may vary from line to line as long as it agrees w/a given model. It is notable that, except for the shorter ones, lines are divided into halves/hemstichs which too must meet the prescribed syllable count. The break between hemstichs may not fall in the middle of a word.

 

4. The ends of the hemistichs are marked and contrasted by an obligatory stress: a specific syllable position near the end of each hemistich must be filled by a stressed syllable, and this position typically differs between the first and second hemistich, so that they are audibly distinct.

 

5. Often the syllables immediately before or after the obligatory stresses are obligatorily unstressed to further emphasize the stress.

 

Further rules may be imposed, such as additional word-boundary constraints on certain syllabic positions, or allowances for extrametrical syllables; and further interlinear structure may be present (such as rhyme and stanza).

 

Linguistically, the most significant exceptions to this [such?} pattern are in Latvian, Lithuanian, and Serbian verse which, instead of stress, retain the older quantitative markers; that is, they use long and short syllables at the ends of hemistichs, rather than stressed and unstressed.

 

As for Latvian, what Google does (among other things) not say is that the long and short syllables may be, respectively, stressed and unstressed as well.

 

(In my poetry classes we used the stress/unstress markers only, because, the long/short nature was obvious to the ear.)

Edited by waxwings

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Benjamin

Hello waxwings. Your perceptive comments are appreciated. I have looked at the Google page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syllabic verse and note the “Overview” points you indicate. There is a section lower down on English syllabic verse with interesting comments on hemistich, rhythm and stress. Also an example of seven syllable lines in rhymed verse by Dylan Thomas and a reference to other English poets of the mid 20th century who experimented thus. Interesting stuff.

Edited by Benjamin

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waxwings
Hello waxwings. Your perceptive comments are appreciated. I have looked at the Google page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syllabic verse and note the “Overview” points you indicate. There is a section lower down on English syllabic verse with interesting comments on hemistich, rhythm and stress. Also an example of seven syllable lines in rhymed verse by Dylan Thomas and a reference to other English poets of the mid 20th century who experimented thus. Interesting stuff.

 

Thanks for the supportive response. I merely wanted to bring the gist to everyone's attention. The section on syllabic verse in English merits separate attention, because that is the only language that is fully avilable to all the members of this most interesting group.

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Lake

Hi Ben,

 

I really like this poem. For some reason it reminded me of the poem " "My Papa's Waltz" by Theodore Roethke. At the beginning, I did share some similar thoughts with Tinker regarding how Dad treated the child until reading the end and seeing that's the way he showed his love. I don't mind the one stanza form which I think works well for a narrative, story telling poem. Like Tony, I also like the line he pointed; but at the same time I enjoy the two lines you cut in your revision:

 

infusing morals with punishment.

Massaging vanity with hope,

 

I think it is the words morals with punishment, vanity with hope that work on me. I am not experienced as other critters, it is just my thought.

 

It is a heart touching piece. Enjoyed.

 

Lake

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Benjamin

Lake. My thanks for reading and leaving comment. Your feedback is appreciated. Benjamin

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fdelano

G., my grandfather was just as taciturn, and this returned me to his dominance with everyone. I can't comment on the poetic merits, but I read it whole without faltering. Grandpa turned his son, my father, into a man with no confidence. I began to hate my father for his weakness when I was a teenager, but much later, on reflection, I realized that he had suffered too much. Now, I miss him more than my grandpa, the man of the house. Sorry for the long anecdote, but this work touched me in many ways. My Grandpa would often do little things that meant love for him, hardly recognizable as such by others. He was simply too strong for others to get close to. I'm inspired now to write about the only strapping he ever gave me. What fun we had. When I read much of your work, I absorb the history lesson. I can't make your poem better, but I can make it my own. Thank you for this one.

Franklin

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Benjamin

Hello Franklin, thank you for reading and for your interesting response. Your words that “he was simply too strong for others to get close to” are most significant and with hindsight (mine:) could also perhaps apply to this poem.

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badger11

I wondered what secret guilt was hidden, though belief perhaps requires no experience with the believer born in sin or at least religion makes the innocent feel guilty. The religion of fear rather than love that perverts family bonds. The savagery of piety!

 

Enjoyed this reflective piece B.

 

badge

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