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A. Baez

Fundamental Frailties

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A. Baez

Stones and bones, bones and stones:

Ancient and anointed thrones;

Buttresses of lighter things—

Seats of man and earth, their kings.

 

Stones and bones, bones and stones:

Mud and man have made them known;

One of sand, and one of skin—

One of land, and one of limb.

 

Bone for arm, and stone for haugh;

Stone for hill, and bone for jaw.

Carve them nicely, hold them fast—

Take their luck and make it last,

 

If you can!  Such charms may break:

Guard them closely, for love’s sake.

Quakes and wedges make stones splinter;

Old bones bend in bodies’ winter.

 

Peevish cobbles pulled from earth

Clamor dumbly on their turf;

So, a hip-bone slipped off-joint

Shakes the nerves at every point.

 

Tumbled stones and crumbled bones

Tremble, like their worldly home.

Fumbling, how they mock the rod

Of the everlasting: God!

 

So, my friend, trust not the stones;

No peace is found in earthly bones.

 

 

 

Revisions:

Title--was "Stones and Bones"

Ls 7 and 8--was

One's for skin, and one's for sand--

One's for limb, and one's for land

Ls 9 and 10--was

Bone's for arm, and stone's for plain--

Stone's for hill, and bone's for brain

L22--"worldly" for "earthly"

Ls 23-24 were:

Truest powers come from God;

Heaven holds the lasting rod.

Ls 25-26 were:

So, my friend, make truce with stones;

Try to find some peace in bones.

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badger11

Like the incantatory elements of this AB and the bones/stones sonics, though familiar, are ear grabbing. Visually the apostrophes are ugly, you could cut to...

Quote

One of skin, and one of sand—

Ones of limb, and one of land.

Bone for arm, and stone for plain;

Stone for hill, and bone for brain.

...which I'm sure you have considered, but I thought I mention anyway. I don't link bones and brains.

Still pondering what the poem is about, pre-Christian v Christian perhaps (belief v superstition), but I thought I'd post some initial thoughts.

Quote

Quakes and wedges make stones splinter

That makes me think of nature's forces eg earthquakes.

Quote

Mud and man have made them known

A consequence of nature or man's activities.

cheers

Phil

 

ps is there a full-stop missing on L12?

 

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Tinker

AB, I love the chant like repetition.  I was mesmerized.   

I'm so glad Badge went first.   I was thinking I am dumb because though I loved the sounds, I wasn't sure what the message was. I'm glad someone else who usually gets everything was still wondering.  I got the feeling you were talking about generations, ancestors, evolution, history all helpless against the power of God.  But I've been wrong before.

And I totally agree with the comment "I don't link bones and brains".   That jumped out at me on my first read.  You need brain for the rhyme but skull would make more sense but of course won't rhyme.  A dilemma.  Maybe plain has to go  stones to cull,  bone for skulls.    I also think the apostrophe " 's"es which show ownership are incorrectly used and don't make sense to me.

Because of the rhythm and sound, this has a lot of potential.  But I do think it needs polishing.

~~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

Hmm, I'd actually never thought of not using the apostrophes you both mention. [Update:  or actually, I think I had, at some point ages past--I wrote the first draft of this 30 years ago!] The intent with them wasn't to show ownership, Tink; they were meant as contractions of each word plus "is." Anyway, point taken. I can reconsider these.

I also see both your points about "bones" and "brains." I'll wrestle with this. [Update: I'm trying out "haugh" (just learned a new word!)/"jaw."]

"Quakes and wedges," "mud and man" are pairs meant to allude to the forces of nature and man, respectively. My intent in the poem was twofold--1) to highlight the perhaps not coincidental parallels between the anatomy of the earth and the anatomy of man and 2) to express that both stones and bones, although emblems of foundational, timeless strength, are fragile; and that only God and spirit are invulnerable.

I will reflect on how I might bring these ideas out more clearly. Any suggestions would be most welcome! Thanks, Badger and Tinker, for weighing in. 

 

 

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badger11

retitle the poem - maybe 'Fragile'

a possible, less subtle, more emphatic conclusion:

Quote

So, my friend, trust not the stones;
no peace is found in earthly bones.

 

best

Phil

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A. Baez

Phil,

Sorry, I forgot to address your PS before. L12 is meant to elide into L13, forming one sentence that ends with the exclamation point. I had a comma in there for awhile, but it seemed a bit excessive. Do you think I should reintroduce it?

I really like your suggestions. Your rework of the last two lines is beautiful! Of course I could be contemporary-compliant and say "don't trust the stones" instead, but perhaps this poem's ancient theme can justify your archaic version, which is certainly more elegant. Do you think that implementing these two changes alone would be sufficient to make the poem's premise clear?

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A. Baez

I just switched the order of the pairs in Ls 7-8 to mirror the stones/bones, mud/man sequence, to be followed by the sequence reversed in the next two lines, mirroring the bones/stones variant. This seems more logical, but leaves me with a half-rhyme at the ends of Ls 7-8. Taking votes on preferences. 

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badger11
Quote

I had a comma in there for awhile, but it seemed a bit excessive. Do you think I should reintroduce it?

Possibly. The issue is the use of white space and capitalising the lines - as well as the enforcing exclamation! Snapping the line here, and reinforcing the break with capitalising, than that exclamation mark, was a gear change that affected my reading after the breezy tempo of S1-S3, but then the pace of S4 is different anyway. On reflection, I feel a reader will 'learn' on re-reading to run-on the line more smoothly.

haugh - is nice, there is a rich vocabulary for geographical features

best

Phil

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A. Baez

I do feel your point, Phil, about the gear shift ungainliness. I think that I myself have "learned" over time to run-on the line more smoothly, but ideally, I think that re-reading shouldn't be necessary in order for a poem to do what it ought to. I'll try on the comma again.

I do love the rich vocabulary for land features. I learned of "haugh" just today through my trusty rhyming dictionary. Thank goodness for this word, because I don't know what other monosyllabic bone part I could get to rhyme with any land feature (though this makes for a strange slant rhyme with a sound that doesn't even exist in standard English)! However, I'm having a tough time getting used to the change. The word's obscurity seems to come at a particularly inopportune moment in the poem where something strong and unmistakable feels needed, and its soft look and Scottishness seems ill at ease with all its Anglo-Saxon neighbors, which are historically more appropriate for the trochaic tetrameter. However, Scotland isn't so far from England...

So what do you think--is the poem sufficiently clear since I've implemented your suggestions?

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badger11

I feel haugh added interest to the poem, though I take your point on isolation.

I do feel there is more clarity.

best

Phil

 

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A. Baez

Good--I'm glad to hear it on both counts. Thank you!

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tonyv

The poem reads very well, and there's already a nice, fruitful discussion taking place here. I would just add that from beginning, even before the revisions, this struck me of the proverbial advice that one should build his house on rock instead of sand. This holds true even when the poem admonishes that all stone structures, like all bones, will inevitably tumble/crumble. I would also add that the enjambent from S3L4 to S4L1 was clear to me in the original and the revision.


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

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A. Baez

I like the allusion you mention. There are so many historic symbolic associations with stones and bones that those words inevitably carry the weight of all these. I'm glad you're okay with the enjambment either way. I think I'm liking the comma best now.

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dr_con

Can't believe I missed this. Really a wonderful, enchanting piece well crafted and spellbinding -- and as such, I almost prefer, the non-use of the word God - And I get why and its need but for me (Yes I know probably just me;-) It went from 'Incantation' to 'Sermon' in just one line. As I said me and my issues.

A truly captivating piece, many thanks!

J


"Everything is trying to Prove the Perfection of its own Perception" Dr. Concrescence's The Law of EPPP

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dcmarti1

Repetition, rhyme, alliteration, imagery.....check, check, check, and check. Yup, they're all here! :)

Lovely piece.

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A. Baez

Thanks, Juris and DCMarti, and so sorry for my delayed response.

Quote

I almost prefer, the non-use of the word God - And I get why and its need but for me (Yes I know probably just me;-) It went from 'Incantation' to 'Sermon' in just one line. As I said me and my issues.

Juris, to be honest, I really understand where you are coming from regarding the "God" reference, and I know you're far from alone in the "baggage" you reference. Indeed, I myself had to overcome my own childhood baggage in order to introduce this element. Initially, the poem wended to a close without it, but as a result, the piece lacked a thesis. Indeed, it was initially built around wordplay almost for its own sake, and I had to delve to find what meaning might cohere it all. What you see came forward, so I decided to just say it, and bluntly. However, I would love to find a way to make this passage sound less sermony. You've inspired me to ponder this anew, so thank you. [Update: I'm trying something a little less hard-hitting in there now.]

Quote

Repetition, rhyme, alliteration, imagery.....check, check, check, and check. Yup, they're all here! 🙂

DCMarti,  glad to see you here again! I'd read some of your posts from before I joined this group and they were one thing that led me to do so. It's great to find another fellow fan of formal poetry. I'm glad I was able to tick off some of its boxes for you! Thanks!

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dr_con

AB -- For me, this works better -- I'm charmed by the incantation and your wordplay -- I really really enjoy it! (BTW I'm not opposed to 'god language' and yes I have overcome a great deal of my baggage- rather I thought maybe the pieces overall 'effect' might be better without it;-) And I think you came up with a satisfactory thesis;-)


"Everything is trying to Prove the Perfection of its own Perception" Dr. Concrescence's The Law of EPPP

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A. Baez

Juris, great! I believe you were wholly right about the overall effect. Thank you so much for pointing this out, touching on my own subconscious awareness of same. Truth is, when I first revisited and began revising this poem (whose first draft was written 30 years ago, when I was quite a different person), even in sussing out/seeking out a thesis, my kneejerk inclination had been to maintain these lines in the materialistic, pessimistic bent of the rest. However, having lately adopted a yogic path, I felt prodded me to find a higher meaning in the madness, and that's the other reason behind the very real content/tonal "splice" that you noted here. The moral of the story: better self-integration produces better poetry. 🙂

I detect in some of your own recent poems that you have indeed shed some of your own "God"/"god" baggage. Personally, I've found that much of athiests' and agnostics' objections to God are semantical--hence my use of the colon after "everlasting." 😉

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