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Antarctica (to Robert Frost)


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Its ocean must have never tasted salt.
Since mammoth age, throughout the humans' reign,
its dimmer orbs have watched from in their vault
as if to defy you ... and Pascal: pain
dwells in the blue-black space between these stars;
the air is cast in granite to sustain
it, and beneath an ice cap hide the scars
that typify a thankless stab to mend
a continent much lonelier than Mars.
And here, when all accounts are settled, friend
and foe are far from where they said hello.
There is no more. This is their journey's end,
and each will claim this desert place of snow
with nothing to get, nothing to bestow.

__________________________________
This poem was partly inspired by THIS image.

Notes:

When I started to write this poem, I wasn't precisely sure in which direction it would go. I always loved the image in the link above, and I wanted to write a poem which somehow captured the things I felt when viewing it. I had also recently obtained a wonderful biography of Robert Frost called Robert Frost, a Life (Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1999) written by Jay Parini, a professor of English and renowned Frost expert at Middlebury College in Vermont.

Now, I never really liked Frost, but when I picked up this book in the store, I couldn't put it down. In addition to the fascinating things about Frost's life (including pictures), there was also some expert insight into some of Frost's poems, including my two favorites, "Desert Places" and "Acquainted with the Night." There was one part in particular (on p. 286) which struck me, in which Parini cites a part of "Desert Places":


And lonely as it is that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less --
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
With no expression, nothing to express.


Parini writes, "For equal severity, one would have to turn to Gerard Manley Hopkins's so-called Terrible Sonnets, especially the one that opens: 'No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief,/More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring.' Like Hopkins, Frost would sink into a deep melancholy, then cast his thoughts upon the landscape around him, finding in that external reality a corresponding vision of bleakness.[emphasis mine]" Parini goes on to mention that, "The poet in 'Desert Places' looks up at the stars and says: 'They cannot scare me with their empty spaces/Between stars,' alluding to Pascal, who spoke of the 'infinite silent spaces between the stars.' In the chilling final couplet, Frost concludes: 'I have it in me so much nearer home/To scare myself with my own desert places.'"

These parts from Parini's biography of Frost captured me, because I see a similar methodology (or is it a "pathology"?) in myself, if I look closely at my own inspiration and concomitant versification attempts. The book has given me a deeper appreciation of the poet, and I decided to dedicate my poem Antarctica to Frost. The poem is an attempt at a TERZA RIMA SONNET. "Acquainted with the Night" is a terza rima sonnet, as is my poem RIM, the only other terza rima sonnet I have written.

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PS: come on give me an easy one :)

I'm trying, I'm trying!

 

Tony :))

 

 

Yea you said this to me, and now I am sure you are " trying " :unsure: :).

 

Ah Tony, why you don't write one easier - ok make it - just for me so I read without translator :D.

 

I would be back on this piece, this one here captured me on many ways, even the ways out of the poem, what proves your quality as a poet.

 

I need the time to express myslef :D. ( and all bc of your fault :rolleyes:@ ) :)

 

See you soon 'round here

 

Aleksandra

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

History of Macedonia

 

 

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Excellent Tony... I've read it several times through and it gets denser on each read- like arctic ice that remains immutable and eternal- a voice of stone and age- very well portrayed.

 

Excellent!

 

DC

Gate(less.thumb.png.dc23b19d2478d37a9f6fcdc563973026.pnghttps://conjurd.substack.com/welcome Come on over and check out my poetry substack y'all;-)

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Larsen M. Callirhoe

wow... tony fraking outstanding. by far your talent as a poet and knowledge of poetry is shown in this written work by thee my friend. i love it, i love it, i love it!!!

 

 

what can i say. DR. Con nailed what i might of said in a little bit different vernacular of course. my favorite of yours by far so far as i have read of you.

 

what's up with me. i had a stomach virus this weekend. i lost 20 pounds. i had 41 bowel movements and i threw-up several times. yuck!!! monday i got a new wheelchair. now i can work off some weight now. i weigh a 100 pounds to much. thats why you didnt see me around for a fgew days. last night was the first time i was able to digest some poetry since last thursday afternoon. i finally got my government stimulus check.. of course it was 250 dollars. so i thank tax-payers such as you and my dad, mom, and sisters who paid for this stimulus check. i would work if i could. but then we wouldve never met if i hadnt broke my neck 13 years ago. i would give up educating my self to be walking and never experienceing being a quadriplegic. now i tested a genuis on a IQ test yesterday. i scored 139 and 140 is considered genuis lol. i just don't know if it is a common sense thing or not. i think i did pretty good on it since i only had 1 year of college tho my major was pre med pharmacy and my minor was child pyschology. i wouldpve minor also in keyboard of music but never got that far unfortunately. a thing called sex changed my views on getting a quick education. all well i believe life is a learning experience and then we move on to higher things for those that believe in the christ.

 

victor

Larsen M. Callirhoe

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goldenlangur

Hi Tony,

 

 

This is the second time posting a review - lost the first one.

 

 

Having never written a terza rima sonnet I was unaware of its technical nuances but certainly not unmoved by this beautifully imaged and worded poem.

 

How well you express that ultimate beyond reach essence of such a terrain. Man may come and man may go but it remains:

 

each will claim this desert place of snow

with nothing to get, nothing to bestow.

____________________________________

 

Thank you for the notes - very interesting and informative.

goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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PS: come on give me an easy one :)

I'm trying, I'm trying!

 

Tony :))

 

 

Yea you said this to me, and now I am sure you are " trying " :unsure: :).

 

Ah Tony, why you don't write one easier - ok make it - just for me so I read without translator :D.

 

I would be back on this piece

Comeon, Alek! You wanted easier, I gave you harder, and now you're confused! :rolleyes: Okay, I await your in-depth, quality review ... :icon_razz:

 

 

Excellent Tony... I've read it several times through and it gets denser on each read ...

I like it, Dr. Con ... Thank you! :icon_sunny:

 

 

wow... tony fraking outstanding. by far your talent as a poet and knowledge of poetry is shown in this written work by thee my friend. i love it, i love it, i love it!!!

Thanks, Victor! I'm glad you like it. Thanks for the update, too, on your whereabouts. We'll talk soon.

 

 

Hi Tony,

 

 

This is the second time posting a review - lost the first one.

 

 

Having never written a terza rima sonnet I was unaware of its technical nuances but certainly not unmoved by this beautifully imaged and worded poem.

 

How well you express that ultimate beyond reach essence of such a terrain. Man may come and man may go but it remains:

 

each will claim this desert place of snow

with nothing to get, nothing to bestow.

____________________________________

 

Thank you for the notes - very interesting and informative.

Thanks, Goldenlangur, as always for your close read and kind, insightful comments. Sorry your first review was lost somehow. I'm at a loss as to why that happened. I'm glad you liked the notes, too. Just figured I'd give a little background.

 

 

And here's another interesting fact about earth's southernmost continent: it's technically a desert (based upon rainfall/precipitation levels)!

 

Tony

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

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello Tony. Here is me, I took forever to come back here :) .

 

This poem sounds to me like multi-essential and universal.

The most atractive is the sense in this poem, and also the most imporatant part for this poem by my opinion is how you constructed the poem. All together with the notes what gives you a mark - a serious poet. I am pleased to see how and why you become atracted by Frost, and how you expressed that, and the way you think. Tony I am amazed by those points. And that always you KNOW what are you doing with your poems - that part impress me, and I am sure that even in not so " atractive " poem by you :), there must be a quality and " something " what makes your poem - beautiful.

 

In this poem I love this part:

 

And here, when all accounts are settled, friend

and foe are far from where they said hello.

There is no more. This is their journey's end,

 

and each will claim this desert place of snow

with nothing to get, nothing to bestow.

 

 

... But I can't skip the beginning

Its ocean must have never tasted salt.

Since mammoth age, throughout the humans' reign,

its dimmer orbs have watched from in their vault

 

...which is one of the best expressions for evolution what I have read ever.

And the very fist line: " Its ocean must have never tasted salt ".it's so tricky how it is connected with the title. I love that :) , and the expression itself.

 

Tony I am moved by this poem on many ways. I wish I am half good as you, so to write once in my life maybe some terza rima sonnet :D - or just a sonnet.

 

I love what you did here. I love the words - hard as always - but I love how you deal with it.

 

Thank you very much for this wonderful cold, but warm poem :) .

 

Aleksandra

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

History of Macedonia

 

 

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Frank E Gibbard

Deep as the depth of that glaciated wilderness Tony a wonderful sonnet IMHO. Well done, in sonics and meaning matched so neatly. Frank.

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Thank you, Frank, for your kind and considerate reply. It has given me the encouragement to make an audio recording of the poem. I made one, and I hope to add the file to the audio forum soon.

 

Tony

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

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Thank you, Alek, for coming back to this poem. I love all your thoughts on it, and this part made me :) :

 

Thank you very much for this wonderful cold, but warm poem :) .

 

And though I'm flattered by your comment here:

 

I wish I am half good as you, so to write once in my life maybe some terza rima sonnet :D - or just a sonnet.

... it's a bit of an exaggeration. My sonneteering is nothing next to your verse. :)

 

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

A tight poem, as well-constructed as it is complex. Its second sentence, in particular, is a tour de force, introducing detail after detail without once losing its coherence, all in flawless meter and the intricate, distinctive terza rima scheme. In its length and coherence particularly, this line reminds me of Frost's "Silken Tent," which you had brought to my attention recently. I had questioned the spaces that you have used before and after the ellipses, but you've assured me that that is a style accepted by some. I particularly like the phrase,

Quote

Its dimmer orbs have watched from in their vault

a vivid anthopomorphization that makes me imagine celebrities ensconced in enclosed balcony seats watching a staged spectacle from on high. I also like that you are brave enough in this poem, with its Antarctic context, to set forth your own take, distinct from both Frost and Pascal, on the space between the stars. That takes some clarity and guts to do this, particularly in an homage to Frost.

Quote

the air is cast in granite to sustain
it,

is also a striking image that, while I had to take a moment to realize that it was not meant to be literal, managed to yield to me its intent quickly enough.

Quote

beneath an ice cap hide the scars
that typify a thankless stab to mend
a continent much lonelier than Mars.

Wow, what an interesting interpretation--another compelling anthropomorphization. That third line broaches quite a claim!

Quote

And here, when all accounts are settled, friend
and foe are far from where they said hello.

It was not clear to me from my initial unguided readings what you have since explained to me about these two lines--that their intended meaning was that when friend and foe first said hello, they were friend and friend. To me, such clarity would be best achieved by somehow also defining these individuals' more permanent identities. I do like the internal rhyme of "foe" and "hello." And as you've agreed, I didn't see the need for italicization of "desert places," although it alludes to Frost's poem of this name; those unfamiliar with the poem would not be led by those italics to infer its existence, and those familiar with the piece would enjoy this allusion the most if presented unobtrusively, as it is now in your revision; further, I don't believe that the phrase is distinctive enough to oblige a credit in the interests of avoiding plagiarization.

Quote

With nothing to get, nothing to bestow.

Something in my gut wants to hear this as a line of five pure iambs to really drive it home, giving it a sense of stark finality [edit: its metrical deviations lend it a lightness that seems inappropriate], although this might be a challenge to do well: my best idea right now is something like "With naught to get and nothing to bestow," but the archaism of "naught" is arguably problematic. "With nothing gotten, nothing to bestow" or something along those lines might be another option. [Edit: I think it's significant that the passage from Frost's "Desert Places" (which I'd consciously forgotten about when I had the above reaction) cleaves to five pure iambs with its "With no expression, nothing to express."]

I also loved your engrossing notes, which read like the work of a true academic-poet.

Quote

Hopkins, Frost would sink into a deep melancholy, then cast his thoughts upon the landscape around him, finding in that external reality a corresponding vision of bleakness.

I'm struck that the poet Frederick Goddard Tuckerman, to whom you've recently introduced me, was very similarly described by Stephanie Burt in her forward to a collection of this poet's works.

Quote

These parts from Parini's biography of Frost captured me, because I see a similar methodology (or is it a "pathology"?) in myself, if I look closely at my own inspiration and concomitant versification attempts.

I'd say that methodologies can be pathological and pathologies can be methodical! In any case, at least you are self-aware. I relate to this type of interface with the external reality particularly with respect to my younger years. However, it is possible to transmute this dynamic into brighter forms--either finding joy within and thus without as well, or finding a joy within strong enough to counteract clear gloom without. Either possibility is good news for us all!

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On 6/28/2020 at 11:21 PM, A. Baez said:

A tight poem, as well-constructed as it is complex. Its second sentence, in particular, is a tour de force, introducing detail after detail without once losing its coherence, all in flawless meter and the intricate, distinctive terza rima scheme. In its length and coherence particularly, this line reminds me of Frost's "Silken Tent," which you had brought to my attention recently.

Yes, Frost's sonnet "The Silken Tent" is a single complex sentence. I would suggest that Keats' "Bright Star" is like that, too. I think I might have a few poems where I've come close in the sense that the entire poem is a sentence, but I don't think I've done it in a sonnet ... yet! Aspirations!

On 6/28/2020 at 11:21 PM, A. Baez said:

I particularly like the phrase,

Quote

Its dimmer orbs have watched from in their vault

... a vivid anthropomorphization that makes me imagine celebrities ensconced in enclosed balcony seats watching a staged spectacle from on high.

 I very much like the way you've pictured this.

On 6/28/2020 at 11:21 PM, A. Baez said:
Quote

beneath an ice cap hide the scars
that typify a thankless stab to mend
a continent much lonelier than Mars.

That third line broaches quite a claim!

Can't get much lonelier than those remote ends of the earth and the universe!

On 6/28/2020 at 11:21 PM, A. Baez said:

And as you've agreed, I didn't see the need for italicization of "desert places," although it alludes to Frost's poem of this name; those unfamiliar with the poem would not be led by those italics to infer its existence, and those familiar with the piece would enjoy this allusion the most if presented unobtrusively, as it is now in your revision; further, I don't believe that the phrase is distinctive enough to oblige a credit in the interests of avoiding plagiarization.

Yes, I've removed the italics. Thank you for that!

On 6/28/2020 at 11:21 PM, A. Baez said:
Quote

With nothing to get, nothing to bestow.

Something in my gut wants to hear this as a line of five pure iambs to really drive it home, although this might be a challenge to do well: my best idea right now is something like "With naught to get and nothing to bestow," but the archaism of "naught" is arguably problematic. "With nothing gotten, nothing to bestow" or something along those lines might be another option.

I'm inclined to agree. I think within the next couple of weeks I'll come up with a suitable replacement that accomplishes what you've suggested.

On 6/28/2020 at 11:21 PM, A. Baez said:
Quote

Hopkins, Frost would sink into a deep melancholy, then cast his thoughts upon the landscape around him, finding in that external reality a corresponding vision of bleakness.

I'm struck that the poet Frederick Goddard Tuckerman, to whom you've recently introduced me, was very similarly described by Stephanie Burt in her forward to a collection of this poet's works.

That's a connection I can appreciate, so I'll have to take a look back at both. I, too, seem to be configured that way, so perhaps that's one of the reasons why I'm drawn to these two poets.

Thank you for bumping "Antarctica." (We'll have to read more of my old poems together. 😉) Thank you, also, for putting so much care and thought into your comments on my poem(s) and elsewhere across the forums.

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A. Baez
Quote

I would suggest that Keats' "Bright Star" is like that, too.

Oh, true! It's amazing how much less this poem makes the reader aware of its one-sentence-ness--I think because until the end, each piece of it is less reliant upon what follows  for its import than "Tent." I suppose there are actually a fair number of one-sentence poems out there!

Quote

I think I might have a few poems where I've come close in the sense that the entire poem is a sentence, but I don't think I've done it in a sonnet ... yet! Aspirations!

Ha! Before you start aspiring, first better determine whether you've actually already achieved this! I'd say that this is one of those poetic goals that is not worth aspiring to for its own sake, but if an occasion arose in which such treatment seemed fitting and possible, then it would be worthwhile as a goal to meet in passing. I'd have to check to see how near I've come to doing this myself, in a sonnet or otherwise. I know that I do often write in long--even very long--sentences, both in poetry and prose.

Quote

Thank you for bumping "Antarctica."

That wasn't my intent, just a side effect of documenting in writing comments that I had made orally to you.

Quote

(We'll have to read more of my old poems together. 😉)

Yes indeed--but don't let it keep you from generating some new ones!

 

P.S. Is there a reason you wrote "mammoth age" instead of something like "mammoths' age"?

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badger11

I've enjoyed your 'landscape' poems for a long time Tony and this is no exception - the vastness, the distances, the human realities of separation - existential, but anchored with the simple, the human 'hello' (in that sense the concluding line is not overweighted in its metre).

best

Phil

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 7/1/2020 at 11:29 AM, badger11 said:

I've enjoyed your 'landscape' poems for a long time Tony and this is no exception - the vastness, the distances, the human realities of separation - existential, but anchored with the simple, the human 'hello' (in that sense the concluding line is not overweighted in its metre).

best

Phil

Thank you, Phil, for revisiting with the encouraging remarks. We had been talking about making it regular, of adding even more weight to the line by using five ordinary iambs. I haven't finished pondering this and will give it some more time. Mentally, I need time to even get to it lol.

Tony

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

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Tony,  Nice to see this resurrected, I must have missed this sonnet the first time around.   Love the imagery and am fascinated by the rhyme scheme, (ababcbcdcdedee) though I didn't even notice it at first.

I read your notes and unlike you, I am a big Frost fan and thought if you enjoyed that book so much, then I would love it.  So I went on Barnes and Noble looking to purchase and it was $104.00  hardbound copy only.  So I went to Amazon and they also had it hardbound only $104 marked down to $73.00.  Wow  that must be a lot of book, but at those prices I will pass.  

~~Judi

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~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

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

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Hi Judi, thank you for checking in on this one. It is a terza rima sonnet (I think). 😔

But I didn't pay anything near those prices for the Frost biography. Mine is a tattered soft cover copy I got brand new for under $20 from Borders back when there was a Borders! 

Tony

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