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Liz Mastin

Night Watchman

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Liz Mastin

Ocean slowly waking,

Salt in the morning air,

Mexican night Watchman:

Still there, still there, still there.

 

Throughout the long warm night,

He paced with angel's wings,

Guarding this Royal playground

Until the first bird sings.

 

With only the moon for company;

His mind (like an orphan's caught )

And tossed about on the ocean, 

As he walked and walked and walked.

 

I know one time he saw me

On my high balcony tier,

As he scanned the circular darkness

Before pale dawn drew near.

 

Today will find him sleeping,

Young man has had his fill

Of the lovely, but lonely night,

So still, so still, so still.

 

 

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eclipse

Hauntingly beautiful ..

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tonyv

I agree with Barry:

7 hours ago, eclipse said:

Hauntingly beautiful ..

And it has a lovely, dreamy meter.

Tony


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

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Liz Mastin

Thank you both so much!! l really appreciate it.  It was  definitely a pleasure to write. 

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Liz Mastin

Tink, thank you! I wonder what form this would be termed. Many of my non sonnet, non villanelle etc. poems follow this quatrain style.

Is it a narrative poem? and l don't think one would call it a ballad, but what? It is certainly not open form. Does it have a name?

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Tinker

Liz,   Your poem is written in a common frame often used.  It has no real "title" but it is simply quatrains with alternate rhyme, xaxa xbxb etc. x being unrhymed.   It isn't a ballad, a literary ballad has a specific frame and it really doesn't tell a story that would qualify as a narrative.  I think it has a more lyrical quality, the musings of the poet, contemplating a moment in time.  It really is quite lovely.     So I would call it  Lyrical quatrains with alternating rhyme. 😉

~~Tink


~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

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

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A. Baez

I love the clarity of the language and the efficient, lyrical images, and most of all, I love the beautiful repetitions of three in every other stanza, which do such a masterful job of creating an atmosphere of long-drawn-out watchfulness. The careful construction of this poem is evident in the excellent narrative pacing, the alternation of word repetitions and no word repetitions in the last lines of each stanza, and the meter which, though not strictly regular, delivers just the right amount of variation, in my opinion, to create understated drama and lyricism without tripping up the reader's internal sense of rhythm. The rhymes are on point, and I enjoyed the off-rhyme in the third stanza. The unusual theme makes a drama of nearly negative space, of things not happening, which is a fascinating experience. I also love the way the narrator appears in the third stanza, and how you've left it to the reader to read into this incident whatever significance (or insignificance) we might wish. Also, "circular darkness" is a fabulous phrase.

Technically speaking: "He paced with angel's wings" did trip me up a bit, because while I can see what you were trying to say here, the phrase for me conjured the image of a man literally walking with his wings, which of course is pretty odd. As far as punctuation, I could do without the comma at the end of line 5; similarly, the semicolon at the end of stanza 3, line 1 confused me. After reading the poem a number of times, I think I could see what you were trying to do with that semicolon. But it was not clear to me initially--seeing it at the end of an incomplete sentence feels awkward, especially after your precedent in the first stanza of presenting a similar list of images separated by commas. Also, in the third stanza, the parentheses do not make sense grammatically, because a phrase with parentheses should always be able to make sense if those parentheses were removed (since, after all, they are presenting information that is not strictly essential, as in this example), but in the case of your third stanza, if you remove the parentheses, you are left with "his mind and tossed about on the ocean." Simply removing the parentheses and adding a comma after "orphan" would solve this.

Back to the essence of the poem, the way you wind it up is lovely, shifting into a scene in which the guard has entered a state that's exactly the opposite of the watchfulness that you have so carefully detailed. In one of life's paradoxes, the reader finds that both states have been embraced fully and unquestioningly by the same man, and with an equal sense of inevitability. Finally, the way you bring back the repeated "still"s of the first stanza is so resonant and effective. A great job; I really enjoyed this poem.

Edited by A. Baez

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Tinker

A. Baez,  Welcome to PMO.  What a fine introduction!  Your thoughtful and clearly knowledgeable response to Liz's poem tells us all what an asset you can be to this forum.  I am really excited to read some of your work.   

~~Tink


~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

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

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Liz Mastin
11 hours ago, Tinker said:

Liz,   Your poem is written in a common frame often used.  It has no real "title" but it is simply quatrains with alternate rhyme, xaxa xbxb etc. x being unrhymed.   It isn't a ballad, a literary ballad has a specific frame and it really doesn't tell a story that would qualify as a narrative.  I think it has a more lyrical quality, the musings of the poet, contemplating a moment in time.  It really is quite lovely.     So I would call it  Lyrical quatrains with alternating rhyme. 😉

~~Tink

Thank you so much Tink! In an effort to encourage more poets to try form poetry (as well as free verse) l did something unconventional in my first book of poems (which l am polishing up  for it's 2nd run).

Under the poem's titles, l am stating the form ( if not free verse) that they are written in. So l appreciate your knowledge on form titles!

I'm so glad you like the poem Night Watchman.

We go to Playa del Carmen every year and he is still there.

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Liz Mastin
10 hours ago, A. Baez said:

I love the clarity of the language and the efficient, lyrical images, and most of all, I love the beautiful repetitions of three in every other stanza, which do such a masterful job of creating an atmosphere of long-drawn-out watchfulness. The careful construction of this poem is evident in the excellent narrative pacing, the alternation of word repetitions and no word repetitions in the last lines, and the meter which, though not strictly regular, delivers just the right amount of variation, in my opinion, to create understated drama and lyricism without tripping up the reader's internal sense of rhythm. The rhymes are on point, and I enjoyed the off-rhyme in the third stanza. The unusual theme makes a drama of nearly negative space, of things not happening, which is a fascinating experience. I also love the way the narrator appears in the third stanza, and how you've left it to the reader to read into this incident whatever significance (or insignificance) we might wish. Also, "circular darkness" is a fabulous phrase.

Technically speaking: "He paced with angel's wings" did trip me up a bit, because while I can see what you were trying to say here, the phrase for me conjured the image of a man literally walking with his wings, which of course is pretty odd. As far as punctuation, I could do without the comma at the end of line 5; similarly, the semicolon at the end of stanza 3, line 1 confused me. After reading the poem a number of times, I think I could see what you were trying to do with that semicolon. But it was not clear to me initially--seeing it at the end of an incomplete sentence feels awkward, especially after your precedent in the first stanza of presenting a similar list of images separated by commas. Also, in the third stanza, the parentheses do not make sense grammatically, because a phrase with parentheses should always be able to make sense if those parentheses were removed (since, after all, they are presenting information that is not strictly essential, as in this example), but in the case of your third stanza, if you remove the parentheses, you are left with "his mind and tossed about on the ocean." Simply removing the parentheses and adding a comma after "orphan" would solve this.

Back to the essence of the poem, the way you wind it up is lovely, shifting into a scene in which the guard has entered a state that's exactly the opposite of the watchfulness that you have so carefully detailed. In one of life's paradoxes, the reader finds that both states have been embraced fully and unquestioningly by the same man, and with a sense of equal inevitability. Finally, the way you bring back the repeated "still"s of the first stanza is so resonant and effective. A great job; I really enjoyed this poem.

A. Baez.  Thank you wholeheartedly for your generous analysis of my poem "Night Watchman". You talked of things that l was unaware of!  Yes, the word "still" does repeat in the last line of the first and fifth stanzas, yet l had not planned it that way. It was just a happy coincidence.

I struggle with punctuation and plan to continue studying. Thank you for your mini lesson on colons.  My Quick Study Guide states that colons do not function inside a main clause. "Colons end main clauses and introduce additions and modifications".

I am inspired by what might make a fun "story"!  For instance one of my poems is "Old Car Bodies".

But again, thank you for your help and l appreciate you taking the time to do such a nice and thorough review of my poem. I will save it!

Liz

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Tinker
1 hour ago, Liz Mastin said:

Thank you so much Tink! In an effort to encourage more poets to try form poetry (as well as free verse) l did something unconventional in my first book of poems (which l am polishing up  for it's 2nd run).

Liz, Even Free Verse is a form.  The line is the only element.  It is strophic, not contained into uniform stanzas.    

~~Tink


~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

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

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Liz Mastin
5 hours ago, Tinker said:

Liz, Even Free Verse is a form.  The line is the only element.  It is strophic, not contained into uniform stanzas.    

~~Tink

Ah! I had believed free was actually a rebellion against form.

I know that in my writers groups, l may be the only one who actually "likes" learning anapests, dactlys, amphibrachs, spondees etc. And the varieties of meters and forms.

But l enjoy writing the free verse form as well.

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A. Baez

Liz, first of all, I'm sorry that I responded to this poem in a way that I just realized is more appropriate to the "Workshop" section. I had read the site info when I first joined, but had forgotten that there were several distinct member poetry sections with distinct purposes. Thanks for tolerating my overly detailed analysis!

Anyway, I enjoyed trying to analyze and verbalize why I liked your poem so much. I find that such assessments are great opportunities to clarify and expand my own mind as to what makes a poem good (or not so good), which can then be applied to my own work. I'd like to think that the positive things I pointed out about your poem that you'd been unaware of, such as your reiteration of the "stills" at the end, were less of "happy coincidences" than they were subconscious urges toward rhetorical power!

I'm new to this forum, so I look forward to reading more of your poems, including older ones that you've posted like "Old Car Bodies." It's always exciting for me to find a poet like you who works with formal styles, since these styles are not high in popularity these days, but they're what I gravitate toward myself. I wonder if you are familiar with the Metrical Poetry section of the poem critique forum Eratosphere? There are a ton of "anapest geeks" there!    

Quote

My Quick Study Guide states that colons do not function inside a main clause. "Colons end main clauses and introduce additions and modifications".

Yes, that's what I was getting at; although I was referring to a semicolon in this case, the above rule would apply to both semicolons and colons. I actually don't know or remember a lot of writing mechanics terminology or even rules either, but I do very often have a gut reaction when something is off, and then I may have to introspect and Google in order to figure out how to verify and express my hunch. (Another rule, which I learned in college but which I'd never known before, is that in the US, punctuation marks other than quotation marks should be placed inside any quotation marks used, rather than outside, as is the period in the above quote. However, in Britain, the above construction would be correct.) Of course, it doesn't make things easier that many of the writing mechanics rules are disputed or have subjective leeway in the manner in which they are applied or not!

Quote

Ah! I had believed free was actually a rebellion against form.

Ha! I think you have stumbled upon an oxymoron here. 🙂 Of course you are right--free verse was a rebellion against form. And yet it did preserve enough of a form to be regarded as still having one--just not enough to be considered "formal poetry!" Lol.

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A. Baez

Thank you, Tinker! I was excited to find this forum where there are clearly a lot of knowledgeable, yet generously encouraging, poets. Your thorough knowledge of the elements of poetry, as evidenced in many of your comments that I've read, is wonderful. I'm sorry that I had forgotten (I did read all the guidelines initially!) that there are several separate categories for posting one's own poems, with separate purposes and guidelines, and I now realize that my comments here (and on one other poem) are more along the lines of a critique that would be expected in the Workshop section. Luckily, Liz has taken it graciously!

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Tinker

A.Baez,  I think most of us here would invite critique anywhere it is offered.   I am always open. 

The Workshop is used by some as in depth sounding board to help perfect a particular piece they aren't quite satisfied with.  I never think to use it.  Some have perfected some amazing poems there. The Workshop can't be seen by others outside the Membership. So it is especially helpful if you are thinking of publishing outside of PMO.  

The Member Poetry forum is a showcase but it is more. It is community. I am probably the most frivolous of the bunch, my work is often just sharing my day or some new piece of knowledge I've run across, challenging myself to conform to a chosen pattern.  But there are many serious, wonderful poems here too.    It isn't just a place to compliment a poem,  though I know I get lazy and don't always break things down to specifics.  It is always nice to know someone took the time to read your poem.  Constructive comments are always welcome here even when they question or are not necessarily flattering, as long as they are diplomatic.   We are writers, we all have the skill to show a negative in a positive light, it just takes a little thought, patience and consideration for another's sensitivities.  Most here are pretty thick skinned but there is always that one spot that hurts.  Be cognizant of that and I am sure your comments will be welcome. 

Comments such as you displayed in this thread were enlightening to me.  I had not thought of some of what you touched on and reading your comments enriched my experience with Liz's poem, thank you.  Plus it gave me something to think about in writing my own.  So if you have the time and the energy, comment away.

~~Tink


~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

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

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A. Baez

Tinker, awesome, and thanks for the clarifications. I'm so glad that the guidelines here aren't draconian, but from now on, I'll try to cleave closer to the core of them nonetheless. I do like the premise of having two basic categories of lighter and weightier; it seems like this would go a long way toward satisfying the desires of everyone and avoiding some of the mismatched expectations that I've observed occasionally on other poetry sites. Personally, I find that posting one's own work and receiving comments on it is the best incentive for diplomacy toward others'!

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Liz Mastin
On 11/10/2019 at 7:53 AM, A. Baez said:

Liz, first of all, I'm sorry that I responded to this poem in a way that I just realized is more appropriate to the "Workshop" section. I had read the site info when I first joined, but had forgotten that there were several distinct member poetry sections with distinct purposes. Thanks for tolerating my overly detailed analysis!

Anyway, I enjoyed trying to analyze and verbalize why I liked your poem so much. I find that such assessments are great opportunities to clarify and expand my own mind as to what makes a poem good (or not so good), which can then be applied to my own work. I'd like to think that the positive things I pointed out about your poem that you'd been unaware of, such as your reiteration of the "stills" at the end, were less of "happy coincidences" than they were subconscious urges toward rhetorical power!

I'm new to this forum, so I look forward to reading more of your poems, including older ones that you've posted like "Old Car Bodies." It's always exciting for me to find a poet like you who works with formal styles, since these styles are not high in popularity these days, but they're what I gravitate toward myself. I wonder if you are familiar with the Metrical Poetry section of the poem critique forum Eratosphere? There are a ton of "anapest geeks" there!    

Yes, that's what I was getting at; although I was referring to a semicolon in this case, the above rule would apply to both semicolons and colons. I actually don't know or remember a lot of writing mechanics terminology or even rules either, but I do very often have a gut reaction when something is off, and then I may have to introspect and Google in order to figure out how to verify and express my hunch. (Another rule, which I learned in college but which I'd never known before, is that in the US, punctuation marks other than quotation marks should be placed inside any quotation marks used, rather than outside, as is the period in the above quote. However, in Britain, the above construction would be correct.) Of course, it doesn't make things easier that many of the writing mechanics rules are disputed or have subjective leeway in the manner in which they are applied or not!

Ha! I think you have stumbled upon an oxymoron here. 🙂 Of course you are right--free verse was a rebellion against form. And yet it did preserve enough of a form to be regarded as still having one--just not enough to be considered "formal poetry!" Lol.

So sorry this reply is so late A. Baez. Yes l found eratosphere a few years ago, but haven't visited the site just lately. I also have belonged to some very active critique sites on LinkedIn, one being "Literary Escape" but they gradually seemed to disappear, so l was so happy to find "this" site!

I just finished my first book of poetry, and am taking a deep breath for a minute, but l know l still have so much to learn. Correct punctuation is important and a wider vocabulary is always a hoped for goal.

I will try to post another form poem tomorrow, A. Hope you will post one of your poems soon as well!

Question: after "literary escape"....the comma goes where? 

Thank you,

Liz

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A. Baez

Hi, Liz! No problem at all and many congratulations on your new book! I hope you'll post some info on it on your profile so we can look into it?

I'd never had any idea there were any critique sites on LinkedIn! I had thought it was purely a job network site. (I do belong to it.) That's too bad those sites disappeared. There seems to be quite an ebb and flow in such sites, although Eratosphere seems to have remained quite stable for some time, and it looks like this site has been around for awhile, as well.

You'd put the comma like this: 

"Literary Escape," but

if you're in the US. If in Britain, you'd put it like this:

"Literary Escape", but

I'm not sure what the form is in other English-speaking countries! The British form, which many Americans use accidentally, actually makes more sense; I think the American form was adopted simply because it looks sleeker.

I'm looking forward to seeing another poem of yours. I've posted a couple since we last talked.

Best,

A.

 

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