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To Tony, whose poems probe the cold

 

 

I fear the places I might never reach

In you—where stars encircle arctic capes

Or ice shelves stretch on, winklessly unthawed

Or oceans whirlpool round an unseen God.

But, love, I sink into your easy beach

And stretch where the wisteria tendril drapes

In dappled summer plats around Cape Cod;

I stroll its boardwalks by your side, unshod.

Between the stoic polar ends of earth

Abides this antidote to chilled extremes:

Say, will you stay, for what a season’s worth?

My spirits bathe beneath your gentle beams—

So linger; pause your journeys past the pale;

Kiss your Calypso; let her stash your sail.

 

 

 

Original

 

Here

For Tony

 

 

I fear the places I might never reach

In you—where stars encircle arctic capes

Or ice shelves stretch on, winklessly unthawed

Or oceans whirlpool round an invisible God.

But sweet, I sink into your balmy beach

And stretch where the wisteria tendril drapes

In dappled summer plats around Cape Cod;

I stroll its boardwalks by your side, unshod.

Between the stoic polar ends of earth

Abides this antidote to chilled extremes:

Say, will you stay, for what a season’s worth?

I throw my arms around your sunny beams!

So moor here; pause your journeys past the pale;

Greet your Calypso; let her stash your sail.

 

 

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hi AB,

        Always been interested in the 'conversation', how poems thread to other poems (Tony's work comes to mind here). The endline rhymes are well done and, as usual, there is an emotional dynamic that engages and gives a dynamic to the read. Enjoyed the sonics of pause/past/pale. Not so sure about winklessly, sonically a bit of a lead weight.

best

Phil

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Ah, Phil, good, you have made the conversational connection. For the record, I actually wrote this poem before Tony wrote his "Home (a Goodbye to Wanderlust)"--I simply have been tied up in taxes, so I delayed posting this. I was hoping that the actual sequence would come through, though, in the respective invitation/response characteristics of the two poems. I love the idea of a poetic conversation like you do and I had expressed that as a suggestion to Tony, which I think may have served as a nudge to him (along with the simple desire to keep up board activity) to craft his "Home"--despite his current confessed issues with writer's block. 😉 And of course, there are connections to other poems of his here, too in the references to cold, remote places and in Calypso as a sort of benign, terrestrial converse to his Sirens (of which he's created three, only one [the one that did not represent me] of which has been posted here so far). In turn, that brings up another related dynamic at play--poems by the same poet sub-conversing with each other in the process of conversing with those of another poet.

In any case, I'm glad you enjoyed the rhymes, the emotional dynamic, and the sonics that you mention. That's interesting that you responded as you did to "winklessly." I'm wondering why it comes across to you as a lead weight--is it because it takes relatively long to speak for a three-syllable word?

Incidentally, I have peered in on your very interesting poem "Ain Sakhri Lovers" in the Workshop and the equally interesting surrounding conversation, and I still would like to say a few words about it all, although I think you have the poem in quite nice shape at this point. Again, I was restrained only by taxes; I will always do my part to support Workshop activity here, as I think it is so valuable.

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I'm wondering why it comes across to you as a lead weight--is it because it takes relatively long to speak for a three-syllable word?

Could be AB. Just could be subjective.😀

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Yes, Phil, I'm sure subjectivity does play a role, as Tony had told me that he loved that particular word here. 😃

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my craze was a far cry from summers' climb.

Yes, you did critique Tony's line above, which I particularly enjoyed for its sound. And now Tony particularly highlights a word that is a blemish for me. I think that is okay. My wife likes the scents of sweet peas, not me, but I do love the colours. For me, there is a sensory experience in poetry, which is, obviously, subjective.

best

Phil

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It's interesting that the example you favor is a line composed primarily of monosyllabic words which features two stressed syllables in succession, while the example that causes trouble for you is a three-syllable word featuring two unstressed syllables in succession. Do you know Welsh? I imagine that, along with other factors, the rhythms of one's blood language may play a role in informing one's prosodic preferences (not that I am intimately familiar with Welsh).

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I imagine that, along with other factors, the rhythms of one's blood language may play a role in informing one's prosodic preferences (not that I am intimately familiar with Welsh).

Interesting thought AB. I don't speak Welsh, though language patterns here are often described as 'Wenglish'😀 and Welsh words are used in the local vocabulary and influence pronunciation. I'd probably reference that threading of consonance/assonance rather than stress in Tony's line. What is your scansion of your line?

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...language patterns here are often described as 'Wenglish'😀 and Welsh words are used in the local vocabulary and influence pronunciation.

In that case, it sounds like Welsh could have a consequential influence on your perceptions of written and spoken English. But if consonance and assonance are the prime features that attracted you to Tony's line, then probably a direct comparison cannot be formed between our respective tastes regarding it and my "winklessly" line (since rhythm was apparently your problem with the latter). However, it had also occurred to me before that consonance and assonance may have played a role in your response to Tony's line and that there might be a "Welsh connection" in that regard, too. I would probably have enjoyed that line's consonance and assonance more myself if my prevailing impression of the line had not been formed by its metrical/syllabic flow and its obscurity of meaning (to me).

I'd scan my line

or ICE/shelves STRETCH/ON, WINK/lessly/unTHAWED

but I could also see

or ICE/shelves STRETCH/ON, WINK/lessly/UNTHAWED

placing it out of strict IP; and I could even see the first two feet being scanned

or ICE/SHELVES STRETCH

placing it out of strict IP, as well.

The stress distinctions seem quite subtle in the places where I've offered multiple scans. But in all cases, I thought that the double trochee in the third and fourth feet would emphasize the feeling of stretching on relentlessly, both in distance and in time; in my second and third scans, this effect would be intensified by spondees. Perhaps your ear was craving an iamb in the fourth foot, in which case you would have been unpleasantly disappointed. 

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ICE/shelves STRETCH/ON, WINK/lessly/unTHAWED

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But in all cases, I thought that the double trochee in the third and fourth feet would emphasize the feeling of stretching on relentlessly, both in distance and in time; in my second and third scans, this effect would be intensified by spondees. Perhaps your ear was craving an iamb in the fourth foot, in which case you would have been unpleasantly disappointed. 

Thanks AB for taking time to articulate your thinking here. Very interesting, and certainlty I feel you have achieved the desired effect. Perhaps, that comma break also brings a stress emphasis for 'WINK/lessly/unTHAWED'

best

Phil

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...certainly I feel you have achieved the desired effect.

Well, good--maybe the core problem for you is that the effect I desired was somewhat unpleasant! 😏

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Perhaps, that comma break also brings a stress emphasis for 'WINK/lessly/unTHAWED'

Yes, I'm certain that it does. 🙂

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When I read this poem, I found the rhythm and rhyme familiar. I enjoyed its musicality and the tone of the monologue. I love such genre. Then, I realized with Tinker's response that it was a sonnet. 

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"Words are not things, and yet they are not non-things either." - Ann Lauterbach

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Thanks, Joel--the sonnet is one of my favorite forms, though I often improvise the rhymes schemes of mine, as I did here.

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What a wonderful discussion taking place around this impeccable poem! I thought Judi summed up the mood especially well:

On 7/23/2020 at 10:20 AM, Tinker said:

 It moves through a moment of doubt, to surrender, to a little flirting then at the pivot, full out seduction.

I also enjoyed Phil's lead and the author's follow-up re discernable poetic exchanges.

The first four lines are "close to home" because "arctic capes" where "ice shelves" abound are such an inherent part of my own poetic "core." (I talk a little bit about this in my topic "Where's Your 'Place?'")

"Encircle" is a perfect choice for a word in L2, because that's exactly what stars appear to do, in the night sky, when photographed from earth using long exposure times which yield a "star trail" effect. (I mention star trails in my own poem "Prudhoe Bay.")

The second four lines are even closer to home. I live less than an hour's drive from Cape Cod, MA. I've been there plenty, and I can imagine the speaker-poet walking those sandy beaches by my side, "unshod." 

The last six lines present a synthesis. Acumen and intuition intermingle and offer an "antidote" to this reader's patent "wanderlust." This amounts to an invitation, a question which is also a request: 

"Say, will you stay, for what a season's worth?" [emphasis mine]

How perfectly expressed -- I love it! This line, along with the last line, where the speaker-poet raises the stakes and the call escalates almost to the level of a charge --

"Greet your Calypso; let her stash your sail." 

-- are my favorite lines in this poem. 


Ms. Baez,

The poem bears no dedication line, but whoever this poem is for is very lucky. In this reader's singular grasp, "Here" lies somewhere between the 38th and 41st parallel, Atlantic Seaboard, USA. Perfect title, perfect meter, perfect sonnet -- I think this is one of your finest works.

Yours,

Tony

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

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Everybody, I have Tony to thank for the excellent word choice of "encircle" in this poem. I had had "ensorcell" in its place but Tony pointed out that this brings in a potentially complicating factor of animistic magic. On the other hand, "encircle" preserves much of the mystical feeling of the word "ensorcell" while leaving behind its supernatural element. As I've told you before, Tony, the way you achieve lyricism in your own poems seemingly without ever departing from scientific verities is a feature that I much admire. So I'm particularly thrilled to be able to incorporate into this poem a word that you yourself have suggested to me and that embodies this characteristic--for as you well know, this poem is about you. I did not include a dedication on this post because I was interested in seeing whether members would be able to draw the connection on their own. Now that Phil has, and you, Tony, have publicly acknowledged this connection, I am delighted to add a dedication. 

I enjoyed bringing in Cape Cod for its whimsical rhyme and its introduction of a precisely located, physically and psychologically accessible counterpoint to the preceding "arctic capes," but its proximity to you did not even dawn on me at first, and it was not until later that I realized that it might be close, at which point I looked it up on a map that I confirmed that it was. That sealed the deal on this choice of words for me; there must have been something divine leading me to them. I'm glad you can visualize me ambling in this spot by your side as I can; but as you know, my allusions in this poem to Cape Cod--like my allusions to cold, remote places--are really meant to represent psychic locations within yourself. For I have to believe that you have been drawn to write of chilly, forbidding locales--most of which you've never seen firsthand--as a result of some psychic affinity. As to a literal Cape Cod, I would hardly entreat you to stay with me physically so close to where you already spend most of your time anyway--a place I've never been! I'm interested to know whether the Cape Cod metaphor here is clear to other readers; I rather fear it may not be despite the clear frigid-place-metaphors in the first four lines.

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This amounts to an invitation, a question which is also a request: 

"Say, will you stay, for what a season's worth?" [emphasis mine]

You got that right--it's an invitation and a request; I find that the latter are often more persuasive when leavened by the former. 😉

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This line, along with the last line, where the speaker-poet raises the stakes and the call escalates almost to the level of a charge --

"Greet your Calypso; let her stash your sail." 

-- are my favorite lines in this poem.

I'm so glad--me too! I've found that invitations and requests are often most persuasive when backed up by charges! 😉

From now on, on this board, I invite you and everyone else to call me Lexi--the pseudonym that you, Tony, have employed here to dedicate a couple of your poems to me.

Yours,

Lexi

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  • 1 month later...
David W. Parsley

Hi Lexi, sure glad I stepped back to find this little gem.  And what a conversation has been occasioned by this Conversation!  Not much to add, like Tink, I really found the progression beguiling.  And that final line is a wake-up call rarely matched by any poem I have read, had this reader standing at attention!

One thing, though - I agree with Phil: 'winklessly' seems to disturb the line for me.  It isn't the syllable count; it's the sonics and an awkwardness of diction.  I want to like the original turn of phrase, but it doesn't quite come off for this reader.  Might you consider something like "arrested stare unthawed" or "prolonged wink unthawed", etc.?

Been missing you around here.  Hope you peek in soon.  Before taxes distract you again.  😉

Titillated!
 - David

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Hi David, thanks so much for checking in on this one. Awhile back, I finally submitted enough comments on Eratosphere to qualify for full membership and thus post something of my own (which I've been fitfully striving toward for years), so the former version of this was the first thing I posted there, and the revised version is thanks to feedback I got there. Someone there also expressed reservations about "winklessly unthawed"--in his case, it was simply because he didn't know what it meant. Your alternatives have a nice flavor and might be worked with, but would require an overhaul of the whole line and/or the alternatives themselves so that meaning cohered and meter stayed firm. (Maybe "Or ice shelves stand arrested, long unthawed"?) And I'm so glad you liked the last line so well--wow! Thank you! I have to admit I was particularly pleased with it (well, the couplet as a whole) myself. 

Tony had told me honestly at one point that Erato seemed to be a venue more suitable to my forum interests (which lean toward critique over showcasing) than PMO. I had to agree with him, and I've been very much enjoying the rigorous workout I've been getting on that site--a workout which probably wouldn't be to the liking of most members here. My ideal would be to do it all, because I've very much enjoyed my time here, too, and the root admin is still my sweetheart 💝, but, as Marvell said, "Had we but world enough and time"! Indeed, for the past several weeks, I haven't done any poetry at all--too busy trying to get the rest of my life shipshape. And yes, taxes are upon us all again! 😱

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David W. Parsley

So nice of you, Lexi, to take time to respond, given all that seems to be going on in your environs.  Right you are, it is the entire closing couplet that works so well.  There is a note of generosity and wholeness of heart that so disarmingly couches the narrator's acute desire.  Lovers everywhere would gratefully resonate.

Regarding meter.  I scan that important third line (I suppose they are all important in a sonnet) as:

Or ICE / SHELVES STRETCH / on, WINK / -lessLY / unTHAWED
iamb     /      spondee                   /     iamb        /    iamb     /  iamb

That is an intact line of iambic pentameter with one long-stretching spondee substituted at just the right place.  One could argue the fourth foot is actually a pyrrhic, which again is an effective substitution here as the motion arrests to a sustained gaze.  Considering one of the previous exemplifying recommendations,

Or ICE / SHELVES STRETCH, / arREST / -ed STARE / unTHAWED
iamb     /      spondee                   /     iamb        /    iamb     /  iamb

one sees that the scansion is technically unchanged.  But the quasi-pyrrhic fourth foot is compromised, making the iambic line less nuanced.  Which is not a good thing IMO.  As for the other "recommendation"

Or ICE / SHELVES STRETCH / on, pro / -LONGED WINK / unTHAWED
iamb     /          spondee                /  pyrrhic /     spondee         /  iamb

there is much more use of metric substitution, which can feel (and be!) a little perilous.  But this one preserves something of the original nuance, moving the pyrrhic one foot earlier and bringing in a spondee to freeze that icy gaze.  It may also be sonically and dictionally superior to either of the other two, but not sure it is quite right either.  There is something good about NOT winking, for one thing. 

And I am not entirely sure I am right about 'winklessly' either - it's pair of ee-sounds and hissing S do support the wide space of that icy landscape, but the ND and L detract from same.  But that initial W contributes to the oo'ing feel of it.  I definitely would not do anything that would lose the ice shelf and the sense of stretching.  As Valery once said, "Poems are never finished, they are abandoned."  This one is in a pretty good spot just as it is.

Eratosphere.  I don't know much about it, but have given it thought.  Maybe I should spend some time there, too.  To your point, life just kind of keeps one distracted.  And I have trouble making it into this place already, with a number of friends who I am always glad to see.  Might have to wait till I retire-retire from my space adventures. 😏

Cheers,
 - David

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Oh! I didn't realize you actually were proposing

Or ICE / SHELVES STRETCH, / arREST / -ed STARE / unTHAWED

or

Or ICE / SHELVES STRETCH / on, pro / -LONGED WINK / unTHAWED

I have to admit that it took me several readings of each just now before I realized how each could make sense. They're a bit convoluted syntactically, don't you think? In both cases, the plural subject is followed by a verbal adjective modifying a singular noun, with only an unstated, implicit possessive pronoun introducing this construction, followed by another verbal adjective that creates an inversion; whereas a simple adverb followed by an adjective (as in "winklessly unthawed") is rather more direct.

But thanks for your careful metrical/rhetorical analysis of these lines in relation to my original one! You do seem to "get" the different "feels" that each metrical/semantical variation delivers. Incidentally, behind the scenes, Tony had fervently insisted to me that your first scansion of "winklessly" with "ly" as a stressed syllable was the only correct one, whereas I had assumed it would be scanned in the alternative way you suggest, with no stress on the "ly." Personally, I think that it's misguided to try to impose a black-and-white categorization on such things, because the human vocal apparatus works on a spectrum, not a polarity, stress-wise.

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And I am not entirely sure I am right about 'winklessly' either - it's pair of ee-sounds and hissing S do support the wide space of that icy landscape, but the ND and L detract from same.

What were you referring to by "ND and L"?

About "arrested stare," wouldn't an unmelting ice shelf have an unarrested stare, not an arrested one? I do like the concept of other aspects of the shelves (e.g. their movement) being arrested, though...

And "prolonged wink" is actually an oxymoron considering this definition of "wink": "an act of closing and opening one eye quickly, typically as a signal."

Anyway, I'll keep thinking...thanks for thinking with me!

I bet you would like Erato, given your proclivity for thoughtful response and your aptitude at in-depth analysis, but yes, it's hard splitting oneself among various venues of a similar nature unless one is a full-time person of leisure! Certainly, I don't want to pull you away from here--the other members would never forgive me! 😮

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