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Poetry Magnum Opus



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False friends beam slyly in the taproom

and thy name is now unknown to me,

thou Jezebel! The very doors of hell

yawn wide in a field in daylight

my bruiséd soul to greet. A breeze

whistles through the woods, and I,

who once would fawn, dissemble fright,

who would once yield, go weak in my knees,

go light of head, run fey in your sight,

am but a warp in a winding sheet.

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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The title of this short but well written piece had me scurrying off to Google (ringforts and the Kerry Babies Tribunal) though at face value it reads more of acrimony, exile and severance of the past.

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Like most that it's real, emotions and reactions, desires and dislikes evolved through the years. The name is not significant to me, but to the Narrator. Things change, and as Wolfe said, "You can't go home again." But you can feel bitterness at the loss of valuable things intangible: a close friend, a very close friend, and the atmosphere of the room changing as you enter. I would rather stumble upon a pub and enter for the first time, sit with a pint and observe all around. Bren, your poem has created a glimpse of your history and your inner thoughts as you try to find those "good old times." All around, excellent reading and ammo for contemplation. After the third reading, the narrative sprang to life for me, one I would like to experience. Boy, I can go on sometimes.


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David W. Parsley

Brendan, I am sorry to hear of your accident, glad you came through. Count me among those perplexed and concerned by your absence. Speedy recovery, my friend!


On a purely selfish level, I confess to an enjoyment of the more lyric strain to your recent work. If that is somewhat due to your recent tribulations, I must regret it, too. But the pleasure is more dominant. :unsure:


Elaborating (a little, not like what I rain down on the much-appreciated Barry), I really admire the deliberate use of anachronisms (are you and Frank collaborating?), the deft mix of end and internal rhymes (Jezebel-hell, beam-name, daylight-fright-light-sight-sheet, etc.), controlled alliteration, all while avoiding a tinny musicality. And then the devastating final line - wow. Reminds me of final lines in my favorite poems of Tony and Aleks: absolutely pregnant with resonant symbol and emotion that continues "after the music stops playing."


One of your best pieces.


Thanks (I think),

- Dave

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This poem began with a few lines and expressions and it was around these fragments that the story gradually built itself. I was making an attempt to match sounds to feeling through the use of recurring internal rhymes (beam-name was NOT one of them, ahem!) and to impart a sense of acceleration before applying the brakes in the final line. The language suggests the late 17th or 18th centuries and the place name the sort of provincial coastal town where everybody would know too much about everybody else. The relative success or failure of the poem in accomplishing what it sets out to do is problematic since the gap between conception and execution is a yawning chasm to the creator while not always that obvious to the reader. Having said that, I am rather grumpily satisfied with the result since I have discovered over the years that one can ask for little more without being driven insane through endless revision!!


With regard to the more contemplative/lyrical tone to my poetic offerings since the recent accident, this may be so. Being yanked offstage by a hook in mid-flow, however temporarily, does tend to concentrate the mind! And it gives you plenty of time, perhaps too much time, to think. Too early to say if this will last.

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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  • 5 weeks later...

Interesting background on the poem, Brendan. Most of my poems begin as you say this one did with a few lines, expressions, and fragments. And the process you mention, that chasm, is intimately familiar to me. With your recent lyrical works (especially this one) you do seem to be delving into somehow familiar yet uncharted waters.


I love how you've used the name of a place as the title. I do this, too, and I always feel that a poet who uses the name of a place makes that place his own. No one else can touch it in exactly the same way even if he tries. Very nice work.



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

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