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A. Baez

"Today I know that life is but a dream"

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A. Baez

[CA]

 

Today I know that life is but a dream,
For how else could a moment ages past
Arise now on the surface of this stream
Of being, sliding freely in its churn?
Before, rash memories swirled up, eddying fast
Against the current’s flow; now hours return
To present tense unrippling, it would seem.

Yet fiction glints off this which I might deem
Pure fact. Forthwith, it blurs and slides away
With shoreline forests slipping past the hull
Of this stern oarsman’s boat, soon turning dull.

 

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eclipse

This is lovely..

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dr_con

Indeed it is lovely. A beautiful reflection on the lived experience of the moment, highly recommend Weird Studies podcast on walking for a bit of this flavor.

 

Truly remarkable. Many Thanks


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

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tonyv
17 hours ago, A. Baez said:

Today I know that life is but a dream,
For how else could a moment ages past
Arise now on the surface of this stream
Of being, sliding freely in its churn?
Before, rash memories swirled up, eddying fast
Against the current’s flow; now hours return
To present tense unrippling, it would seem.

Yet fiction glints off this which I might deem
Pure fact. Forthwith, it blurs and slides away
With shoreline forests slipping past the hull
Of this stern oarsman’s boat, soon turning dull.

 

As for the meter, L5 stuck out, but that's because I usually don't like anapests. Even so, they are acceptable in iambic pentameters which Frost characterized as "loose." Thus, the line conforms:

Before, rash memories swirled up, eddying fast
/ beFORE / RASH ME / mo ries SWIRLED / UP ED / dy ing FAST /
/ iamb / spondee / anapest / spondee / anapest /

The rhymes in this poem are not objectionable. I'm not familiar with the scheme, but I don't believe there needs to be a scheme. "Away," at the end of L9, is the outlier, but no big deal. It doesn't stand out if one is not looking for a rhyme scheme. Rhyme scheme is not the first thing I look for. I usually consider rhyme only after I've examined meter and content, and even then I don't put a lot of emphasis on it. 

You have the title in quotation marks which leads me to believe the poem itself is an allusion to another work. I searched a bit and found Lewis Carroll's "Life is but a Dream" and a nursery rhyme, neither of which I'm a fan, though I find the former less objectionable than the latter. Therefore, since I won't spend a lot of time googling more, or on the Carroll poem, I will proceed without the benefit of erudition.

18 hours ago, A. Baez said:

Today I know that life is but a dream,
For how else could a moment ages past
Arise now on the surface of this stream
Of being, sliding freely in its churn?

The poem begins with a question. While I'm okay with "but" in L1, "just" might be more suitable for the contemporary audience ... unless it's an allusion. The speaker knows "today" that life is just a dream which means she didn't realize this in the past. She calls that past "a moment ages past" and wonders how, other than in this dream called life, the moment could resurface, re-present itself on this "stream of being" (life? existence?) and persist unhindered ("sliding freely in its churn"). The "moment ages past" is archaic, but I'm okay with archaic. By now, I'm looking to learn more about the nature of this powerful moment. What could it be?

18 hours ago, A. Baez said:

Before, rash memories swirled up, eddying fast
Against the current’s flow; now hours return
To present tense unrippling, it would seem.

So, in the past, impulsive memories presented themselves, built up, and went against the grain. Of what, I'm not sure. Life (the river metaphor)? Toggle back to the present ("hours return to present tense unrippling"?), but you've lost me there. "It would seem" seems thrown in for the rhyme; in L1 the speaker knows, but here in L7, she's unsure.

18 hours ago, A. Baez said:

Yet fiction glints off this which I might deem
Pure fact ...

I could infer that the speaker is second guessing herself because she makes it a point to say that she "deems" it a fact, but I'm really not sure what "this" is. 

18 hours ago, A. Baez said:

Forthwith, it blurs and slides away
With shoreline forests slipping past the hull
Of this stern oarsman’s boat ...

I like words like "forthwith," but then again, I've spent a lot of time reading statutes, legal briefs, and court orders with all their herebys, therefores, and forthwiths. I think a lot of readers would consider it unpoetic, but it's a fine word. The speaker is the oarsman on this river of life, and she's a bit uptight. Did I get that part right? 

19 hours ago, A. Baez said:

... soon turning dull.

Probably the most striking word in this poem and somehow fitting. Does it refer to the shoreline forests, the hull, or the boat? And I'm still, wondering what "this" "moment" was/is ... Somehow, strangely, the overall message of this poem reminds me of my own poem "Rim" from ages past ... from long, long ago.

NOW THEREFORE, insofar as "forthwith" is concerned (throwing in some legalese just for fun there), carry on. SO ORDERED.

/s/ Tony


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

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Tinker

Hi A.B.,   It seems a bit of nostalgia is present here.  I was curious what that moment was that took the narrator back to it.   The piece has a lovely dream like quality.  Lovely formal poetry.  At first glance I thought it was a Curtal Sonnet.  It is close enough to be a variation of the sonnet form with slightly different rhyme and stanza pattern and the last line is full pentameter instead of trimeter but it had the same feel to me.  

Tony, is our meter expert here, or at least he is my meter guru.  I always learn something whenever he comments.  I just wish it would stick in my brain for when I'm writing.

I enjoyed reading this piece.  I am thrilled to see formal works being posted here.  Nice.

~~Tink


~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

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

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Guest
On 11/19/2019 at 1:13 AM, A. Baez said:

[CA]

 

Today I know that life is but a dream,
For how else could a moment ages past
Arise now on the surface of this stream
Of being, sliding freely in its churn?
Before, rash memories swirled up, eddying fast
Against the current’s flow; now hours return
To present tense unrippling, it would seem.

Yet fiction glints off this which I might deem
Pure fact. Forthwith, it blurs and slides away
With shoreline forests slipping past the hull
Of this stern oarsman’s boat, soon turning dull.

 

This is an odd piece, also I expected it to be straight-forward but it has many curves, L1 is a good start but the rest slowly come to close and i like that in a poem, with a closed ending. I will give a critique tomorrow at a later time.

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badger11

Today I know that life is but a dream

Hi AB, that opening line has an echo of a pop song lyric, which devalues the more interesting aspects of the poem: fact/fiction. past/present, moments/hours. I liked the rash/fast sonic and the use of 'glints'. Of being is not needed.

Hope that helps some

best

Phil

 

 

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A. Baez

Thanks so much for the comments so far, everyone. I'm sorry I could not respond to these one by one as they came in, but there may be some advantages to replying to everything here at once, as I can now congeal some of my responses into general ones. I'll begin with these comments, and then respond individually to each person's remaining comments in the order they were posted, highlighting each name in 20-point bold face so it can be found more easily. Also, there are a couple additional comments that answer points by Badger and Tony in my last paragraph, also in large bold.

First, I'm glad to hear that this poem provided some enjoyment. It was quite an out-there experiment for me, as I was trying to in some way verbally express some inkling of a very weird, ineffable psychological experience that I've had repeatedly, particularly in the past couple years. I balked at trying to even begin to explain details in the poem--not only were they complex, I did not wish to take away from the poem's perhaps broader implications.

But, if it may shed light on my intended message--this poem does not refer to any one discrete experience. Rather, it addresses something that I'd experienced quite often--particularly in the wake of my mother's death, which finally spurred the poem. This death inevitably brought me into contact with elements of my childhood life that I had long ago largely left behind, such as my mom's neighbors, friends, associates, and house in which I'd grown up for many years. Suddenly, all these elements were catapulted from the mythic-seeming realm of my past, into a very interactively real present, which continued for several seasons afterwards as I cleared and prepared the memory-laden family home for sale. I found myself disoriented--feeling and thinking things that were strong echoes of thoughts that I'd had in the distant past when I was first surrounded by these primal, formative things. There were also feelings and thoughts that were clearly products of my current mentality, or at least partly so; and there were also many impressions that lay somewhere in between.

There was an added level of disorientation in all this arising from the fact that I had been forcibly sent away from this home as a young teenager to a very bad place, from which I did not return till age 21, profoundly and irrevocably changed. Because of this, there was an unusual amount of psychological ground-seeking going on for me. In the process of clearing the house for sale, many spring, summer, and fall nights were spent by me in surreal solitude in that rural, secluded place, feeling great comfort and familiarity, alternating jarringly with remembrances of how delusive this comfort proved, ultimately. In those quiet moments, any fantasy that sprung to my mind (as fantasies often did, so easily triggered by the surroundings) of living that current moment as if it were one with the past could remain unbroken by any contradictory element for untold lengths of time.  All this really spurred me to wonder how many of the thoughts and feelings we have are true and original, and how many are simply products of habit, churned out mechanically as a response to a familiar context. These are the multiple layers of being I was referring to in the poem, as embodied by the stream.

My title was taken from the nursery rhyme "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," which even from my youngest years struck me as having very challenging metaphysical implications in its assertion, "Life is but a dream." Even then, the thought struck me as terrifyingly unsettling; threatening in its plausibility--plausible because it could not be disproven! I wanted to co-opt the whole metaphor of the nursery rhyme with life being the stream, its human inhabitants as boatmen, and everything ultimately as a dream. Badger, I wasn't sure if there was a good way to do this without clearly referencing the nursery rhyme; I'm open to other options but wanted to see how this most simple one would fly with readers. Tony, I put the "title" in quotes because that is standard practice for a poem that is in fact untitled--one simply places its first line in quotes. Truly, I could not think of any title that would not trivialize the poem. 

Dr. Con, I hope to check out the podcast you reference!

Tony,

Quote

As for the meter, L5 stuck out, but that's because I usually don't like anapests. Even so, they are acceptable in iambic pentameters which Frost characterized as "loose."

Yes. I try not to break metrical "laws" without a good reason. Here, I had two: 1) I couldn't think of any synonym for "memories" that was iambic, and 2) the extra syllable here seems to emphasize the slow, reflective nature of the memories themselves.

Quote

"Away," at the end of L9, is the outlier, but no big deal.

That word choice was on purpose, as well. In the phrase "Forthwith, it blurs and slides away," I'm talking about the slipping-away of an illusion that a memory is living itself out (fully formed, in 3D and surround sound, and uncannily and wholly integrated into its present surroundings) in the present tense. So a word that slipped away from all preceding rhymes seemed eminently appropriate here. However, I've been keenly aware of the vagueness in the word "it" in this phrase and am not satisfied with it. I simply haven't been able to figure out a way to fit what I mean into this line. Any suggestions about this would be welcome. 

Quote

While I'm okay with "but" in L1, "just" might be more suitable for the contemporary audience ... unless it's an allusion.

As I mentioned above, it is an allusion, but I did think about using "just" instead, for the reason you and Badger cite. I'm not sure about this.

Quote

The speaker knows "today" that life is just a dream which means she didn't realize this in the past. She calls that past "a moment ages past" and wonders how, other than in this dream called life, the moment could resurface, re-present itself on this "stream of being" (life? existence?) and persist unhindered ("sliding freely in its churn")

Pretty much...I guess I'd say, "she wonders how, if this life is not a dream, the moment..." But I think that's what you mean.

Quote

"moment ages past" is archaic

Hmm--Microsoft Word autocorrect seems to agree with you, since it redlined this, but I'm not sure of a way to Google archaic expressions, only archaic words. If this phrase is indeed archaic, this seems a real injustice, since there seems to have arisen nothing reasonable to take its place. "A moment that happened long ago"? How fluid and euphonious! 🤧 Are "a moment long past" and "a moment ages old" archaic, too? Good grief! None of the individual words in my phrase is archaic, yet the expression is archaic?! Glad you're okay with archaism, at least!

Quote

So, in the past, impulsive memories presented themselves, built up, and went against the grain. Of what, I'm not sure. Life (the river metaphor)?

Yes. You know, when something from the past like an old crazy photo of yourself that you'd totally forgotten about, or running into a childhood friend who has since changed completely, inserts itself into your life and just throws you for a moment? I wonder how I could make this more clear?

Quote

Toggle back to the present ("hours return to present tense unrippling"?), but you've lost me there.

Hmm. Again, I wonder how I can clarify. I know I'm going at high torque in this poem--I was more afraid of explaining too much than too little!

Quote

"It would seem" seems thrown in for the rhyme; in L1 the speaker knows, but here in L7, she's unsure.

Kind of. I guess it's sort of like you with "abound"--I just had a strong sense, to an extent for sonic reasons, and also to a great extent because I think this poem is all about seeming--about appearances that are potentially delusive--that this word belonged there. Then, having decided that, I struggled to find a way to make it work. My best justification is that what follows from L1 is a flashback of what happened that led me to arrive at that conclusion. But I realize that by L7 I've returned to present tense, so it does not read like part of a flashback. Again, I'm still in "hmm" mode on this, and any potential solutions would be welcome.

Quote

I could infer that the speaker is second guessing herself because she makes it a point to say that she "deems" it a fact, but I'm really not sure what "this" is. 

Yes on the second guessing. This poem is all about that! "This" refers to the same thing that "it" does in "Forthwith, it blurs and slides away." Again, I'm talking about the slipping-away of an illusion that a memory is playing itself out in the present tense, has become part of the present tense.

Quote

I like words like "forthwith," but then again, I've spent a lot of time reading statutes, legal briefs, and court orders with all their herebys, therefores, and forthwiths. I think a lot of readers would consider it unpoetic, but it's a fine word.  

Oh--I didn't know that "forthwith" was legalese! I actually feared that it was archaic! Anyway, if I'm not pushing one verbal envelope, it seems I'm pushing another! I'm glad you're okay with this, too, because again, what suitable substitute exists? "Right away"? Not in this line!

Quote

The speaker is the oarsman on this river of life, and she's a bit uptight. Did I get that part right?

Um, I guess you could say so! Lol.

Quote

Probably the most striking word in this poem and somehow fitting. Does it refer to the shoreline forests, the hull, or the boat?

Great! I'm glad the word hit home! But it refers to none of your nominees. It again refers to that which I referred to by "it" and"this" mentioned above...i.e., that illusion that the past has a viable existence in the present, and, I might add, perhaps an unbroken existence throughout all time. However real this sense felt while facing the embodied memory, it dissolved as soon as I shifted my focus, as the oarsman shifts his focus when his boat moves downriver. I would love to make this concept clearer, as well. It's actually quite essential that I do. I wonder if there's any way to fulfill my complex agenda in this poem in an economical and effective way? 😨

Quote

Somehow, strangely, the overall message of this poem reminds me of my own poem "Rim" from ages past ... from long, long ago.

Hmm, I can see that a little bit. I have to say I am head over heels, daftly in love with that poem, and I'll need to return to it to more fully pay my respects a.s.a.p.!!!

Tony, thank you so much for your in-depth analysis of this poem. It means so much to me!

Tinker, I'm glad you responded to the tone of the poem. That was important to me. Hopefully I answered your questions in the explanation above. I was indeed mindful of the Curtal Sonnet, and that helped give me a sense of permission to use this number of lines, even though the sonnet proper has become my most go-to form over the years. I felt it important that the form emphasize the immediacy and the ephemeral nature of what I was describing, and I believed that that two more lines would have nixed that feeling, giving the poem more of a calculated, analytical tone. I am a huge fan of formal writing and it's mainly what I do these days, so I'm so happy that it finds a receptive spirit in you!

Tsunami, I'm not 100% sure what you meant, so I look forward to your expanded thoughts.

Badger, I'm glad you liked some of the same things about this poem that I do! So you think "of being" is not needed? I'm never quite sure how much I need or do not need to pin down an extended metaphor. If I don't need to here, then I am left only with the question of what to put in the place of those two words! It's probably soluble...I'll ponder. 

 

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tonyv

A. Baez, thank you for the fascinating, detailed (and personal) background information. This is one of the many reasons I love our forum, our group here. We might not get to ask Yeats, or Wright, or Larkin, or Bowers what they meant with everything they wrote. Not that I think it should matter -- poems are poems -- but here we can ask each other for more. With the greats who aren't exactly our contemporaries, we can only garner info from what others who had contact with them have chosen to reveal. Here, we can enjoy a richer experience when we interact with each other. Some might opt not to disclose. I myself welcome any questions always. I love it when our members generously reveal background info.

17 hours ago, A. Baez said:

I put the "title" in quotes because that is standard practice for a poem that is in fact untitled--one simply places its first line in quotes. Truly, I could not think of any title that would not trivialize the poem.

Thank you, and I agree. A first line often makes a fine title. I didn't know that one should place it in quotes, and I will do this when I use a first line as a title as I have done a couple of times.

17 hours ago, A. Baez said:

Yes. I try not to break metrical "laws" without a good reason. Here, I had two: 1) I couldn't think of any synonym for "memories" that was iambic, and 2) the extra syllable here seems to emphasize the slow, reflective nature of the memories themselves.

You haven't broken any metrical rules; as I noted, the line conforms: it's an iambic pentameter. I like your reasons for the anapests. Reason #2 completely makes sense -- I did detect the sense of pace but wanted your reason -- and the reasoning is similar to what I believe is the case with the ultimate line in Yeats' Leda and the Swan; at first I didn't care for the way he incorporated the anapest(s), but in time I came to appreciate the line's diminuendo effect.

17 hours ago, A. Baez said:

So a word that slipped away from all preceding rhymes seemed eminently appropriate here.

Good articulable and comprehendible reason.

17 hours ago, A. Baez said:

However, I've been keenly aware of the vagueness in the word "it" in this phrase and am not satisfied with it. I simply haven't been able to figure out a way to fit what I mean into this line. Any suggestions about this would be welcome.

I'll think about it, and if I get any ideas I'll let you know.

17 hours ago, A. Baez said:

As I mentioned above, it is an allusion, but I did think about using "just" instead, for the reason you and Badger cite. I'm not sure about this.

Keep "but." You have articulable, literary reasons to use it.

17 hours ago, A. Baez said:

Hmm--Microsoft Word autocorrect seems to agree with you, since it redlined this, but I'm not sure of a way to Google archaic expressions, only archaic words. If this phrase is indeed archaic, this seems a real injustice, since there seems to have arisen nothing reasonable to take its place. "A moment that happened long ago"? How fluid and euphonious! 🤧 Are "a moment long past" and "a moment ages old" archaic, too? Good grief! None of the individual words in my phrase is archaic, yet the expression is archaic?! Glad you're okay with archaism, at least!

I think it's archaic but only for someone who does not have experience with literature. And is that person really our target audience? I don't see any reason to change/replace it, and I was only pointing it out because it is an unusual inversion (hence archaic sounding), but as I repeat over and over, archaic doesn't bother me. I'm semi-literate. 😉 Of course, there are other semi-literate people who will differ and rail against anything archaic sounding, but I think they are fad followers who are only right to a point: one shouldn't overdo archaic. But occasional use, well, it's still English.

17 hours ago, A. Baez said:

Hmm. Again, I wonder how I can clarify. I know I'm going at high torque in this poem--I was more afraid of explaining too much than too little!

I think you have the right mix.

17 hours ago, A. Baez said:

Kind of. I guess it's sort of like you with "abound"--I just had a strong sense, to an extent for sonic reasons, and also to a great extent because I think this poem is all about seeming--about appearances that are potentially delusive--that this word belonged there. Then, having decided that, I struggled to find a way to make it work. My best justification is that what follows from L1 is a flashback of what happened that led me to arrive at that conclusion. But I realize that by L7 I've returned to present tense, so it does not read like part of a flashback. Again, I'm still in "hmm" mode on this, and any potential solutions would be welcome.

It's not technical writing for an instruction manual, and it's not a statute -- it's poetry.  Nor do you have to dumb it down to reach the lowest common denominator. Keep it. This poem is good. Any improvements can be had with very small changes.

18 hours ago, A. Baez said:

I would love to make this concept clearer, as well. It's actually quite essential that I do. I wonder if there's any way to fulfill my complex agenda in this poem in an economical and effective way?

I think you're almost there.

I wanted to give you a "critique" in line with what you could find in a lot of places out there. The points weren't necessarily wrong -- they were commonplace -- but now, I'm telling you what I really think. The poem is good. Minor changes can yield major improvements that even you will be satisfied with. When I write poems I consider my target audience(s). My poems aren't for everyone, nor do I think you should be trying to write one size fits all poems. In my opinion, when one perfects the language, he'll have world class art. Some will like it, some won't.

Poetry is extremely subjective. I don't like all poetry. I'm very picky with poetry. Even when it comes to acclaimed masters, there are ones I love and ones that bore me. For example, you took issue with Bowers, while to me he is beyond reproach. I would think the same is true for most of us here and even for highly trained scholars who might recognize a good work but nevertheless not like it. I think that's normal.

Tony


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

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A. Baez

Tony, thank you so much for your receptivity and responsiveness to my background notes as well as the poem itself. Aside from just satisfying curiosity, my hope was that this info. might help fine-tune any further suggestions for revisions so as to best align with my original intents.

Yes, the freedom to interact with a living, breathing poet and glean insights into their work has a fascination akin to getting underneath the hood of a car. Personally, I love to expand upon the thoughts that generated a poem of mine, because these thoughts interested me enough to write the poem in the first place! I suspect that as long as one holds on to a sort of cringey embarrassment about explaining the background of a poem, when it is in some way personal or sensitive, there will be some degree of energy held back from the poem itself. In order to create effective art, I think we need to be able to face into what we're saying in the company of at least some others whom we've selected to trust.

At least so far in my poems, my narrator is always myself. There's nothing fictional in them, at least in a metaphorical sense. They say "write what you know," and I have never felt I knew anyone else so well as to feel qualified to enter their skin and speak with their voice, as it were.

Quote

A first line often makes a fine title. I didn't know that one should place it in quotes, and I will do this when I use a first line as a title as I have done a couple of times.

I should clarify: an untitled poem, when printed in any form, should not have the first line in quotes printed above it--this space should just be left blank--but such a quoted first line would be used in the boards of forums like this, tables of contents, indexes, or references made in other sources to identify the poem.

I'm glad you're no-title-supportive! I find a lot of titles in amateur poetry that just sound schmaltzy, general, bland, repetitive of the content, or all of the above, and these just diminish the poem. So many people are afraid to leave a poem untitled--they seem to regard it as akin to walking around nude. To me, it is often more like walking around fully clothed but without a stupid hat!

I'm wondering if it might quell the perception of triteness of my first line here if I were to write it,

Today I know that "life is but a dream,"

to render the allusion explicitly intentional, especially for anyone who's unfamiliar with the nursery song. (I thought it was known to all, but apparently not!)

Referring to

Before, rash memories swirled up, eddying fast

Quote

You haven't broken any metrical rules; as I noted, the line conforms: it's an iambic pentameter.

Well (as you noted), it's not straight iambic pentameter at all--it has a whopping three variations! I have broken the strict rule, and while this may be acceptable for Frost and other poets and critics who identify a fallback "loose" rule, there are plenty of pundits who'd object! Also, I forgot to address the reasons for my second metrical variation in the word  "eddying." As with "memories," I felt that the word's meter captured the quality of what it represents--in this case, a circular movement of water counter to a main current. There's something of an ongoing, relentless burbling commotion conveyed in this verb that I think is captured even better by the two dactylic subs (not anapestic, as you'd said--that's the opposite!) in this line, separated by the spondee, than it would be just be the dactyl in "eddying" itself. 

Quote

the [second] reasoning [that the extra syllable here seems to emphasize the slow, reflective nature of the memories themselves] is similar to what I believe is the case with the ultimate line in Yeats' Leda and the Swan; at first I didn't care for the way he incorporated the anapest(s), but in time I came to appreciate the line's diminuendo effect.

You might call it diminuendo, but I think the drawing-out effect here actually has the result of placing additional rhetorical emphasis on the line, which in turn reflects back onto the whole poem. Think how it would be if instead of writing

Quote

                                      Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

Yeats had written,

Quote

                                      Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the heedless beak could let her drop?

Da-dum, da-dum, da-dum, da dum, ho hum! Quite a difference!

Re. my "it/this" vagueness,

Quote

I'll think about it, and if I get any ideas I'll let you know.

Thanks! I've been thinking about it too, and so far, it seems my only recourse is adding some additional lines of explanation. I fear this may dilute the swift impact of the poem, but I'll give it a try: I'm thinking that a few representative flashbacks in italics might be a way to do the job without too much disruption.

Re. "ages past,'

Quote

it is an unusual inversion

I guess on some level that is true, but there is no way to express the same thing in a non-inverted manner; "past ages" has a different meaning altogether. I think this is one of those weird cases!

Quote

My poems aren't for everyone, nor do I think you should be trying to write one size fits all poems.

I agree with everything you say surrounding this. However, I do find that often, in trying to reach some readers who have trouble with some of my writing choices, I actually wind up with results that I like better than the original, sometimes to my own great surprise. Over time, I seem able to discern if I've gone overboard to the extent of actually betraying myself; that's what happened with my adoption, dismissal, and eventual readoption of "inhumed."

Tony, thank you again for your careful, and caring, read of this poem and comments. You are the kind of ballast that all poets need to truly thrive.   

 

 

 

 

 

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tonyv
22 hours ago, A. Baez said:

At least so far in my poems, my narrator is always myself. There's nothing fictional in them, at least in a metaphorical sense. They say "write what you know," and I have never felt I knew anyone else so well as to feel qualified to enter their skin and speak with their voice, as it were.

This is fascinating how the narrator is always yourself. I'm not sure that that's the case with me -- I'll have to look back and contemplate it -- but I'm pretty sure I don't always write what I know. I sometimes do a bit of research to make sure I get facts right e.g geographical references, and as I said in another reply, I'll sometimes let a poem morph into something altogether different than what I set out to write about if the result is a better poem.

22 hours ago, A. Baez said:

I should clarify: an untitled poem, when printed in any form, should not have the first line in quotes printed above it--this space should just be left blank--but such a quoted first line would be used in the boards of forums like this, tables of contents, indexes, or references made in other sources to identify the poem.

I did understand, but thank you for caring enough to clarify in case I or other readers didn't.

22 hours ago, A. Baez said:

Well (as you noted), it's not straight iambic pentameter at all--it has a whopping three variations! I have broken the strict rule, and while this may be acceptable for Frost and other poets and critics who identify a fallback "loose" rule, there are plenty of pundits who'd object! Also, I forgot to address the reasons for my second metrical variation in the word  "eddying." As with "memories," I felt that the word's meter captured the quality of what it represents--in this case, a circular movement of water counter to a main current. There's something of an ongoing, relentless burbling commotion conveyed in this verb that I think is captured even better by the two dactylic subs (not anapestic, as you'd said--that's the opposite!) in this line, separated by the spondee, than it would be just be the dactyl in "eddying" itself ... You might call it diminuendo, but I think the drawing-out effect here actually has the result of placing additional rhetorical emphasis on the line, which in turn reflects back onto the whole poem.

It's "loose" IP only because of the anapests. "Strict" IP allows for trochees (so long as they don't outnumber the iambs) and certain other substitutions, which are counted as iambs: spondees, and the pyrrhic/spondee combination which is counted as a double iamb {/pyrrhic/spondee/ = double iamb} i.e. two iambs. Thus, in your line you have two anapests, making it "loose," an iamb, and two spondees each counted as iambs: two anapests + three "iambs." No one could correctly argue that your line isn't an IP. (No dactyls in lines of iambic pentameter, and as for "diminuendo" I was using it re the Yeats line.)

22 hours ago, A. Baez said:

I guess on some level that is true, but there is no way to express the same thing in a non-inverted manner; "past ages" has a different meaning altogether. I think this is one of those weird cases!

My turn to clarify. "Ages past" is proper English. I meant that some contemporary audiences, especially those who might not realize it's proper English, could possibly consider it an "archaic inversion." 

22 hours ago, A. Baez said:

Tony, thank you again for your careful, and caring, read of this poem and comments. You are the kind of ballast that all poets need to truly thrive.

Thank you for the meaningful discussions here and on other topics across the board. I always notice them even if it sometimes takes me time to get to making a reply.

Tony


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

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A. Baez
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I'm pretty sure I don't always write what I know. I sometimes do a bit of research to make sure I get facts right e.g geographical references, and as I said in another reply, I'll sometimes let a poem morph into something altogether different than what I set out to write about if the result is a better poem.

About your research, I do that kind of thing as well--mainly when it comes to allusions and metaphors, both of which I use a lot. I've learned a surprising amount that way!

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I did understand, but thank you for caring enough to clarify in case I or other readers didn't.

Okay, good--this is another of those weird things!

Sorry, I should have looked back at your metrical breakdown of my "memories" line in your first reply--you're right, that makes sense.

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"Strict" IP allows for trochees (so long as they don't outnumber the iambs) and certain other substitutions, which are counted as iambs

Okay, I need to brush up on "the rules." It's been a number of years since I have dealt with this stuff. So I'm more in conformity than I thought--great!

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as for "diminuendo" I was using it re the Yeats line

Yes, I was referring to it in that context.

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My turn to clarify. "Ages past" is proper English. I meant that some contemporary audiences, especially those who might not realize it's proper English, could possibly consider it an "archaic inversion." 

I see! I did have another poet-reader call it "archaic." I'm not sure if he thought it was an inversion or not. But aren't archaic inversions proper English, technically speaking?

By the way, thanks for cuing me in to that Carroll poem! I hadn't seen it before, but I love Carroll, and this poem is very interesting.

 

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