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:: Sunday, March 23, 2003 ::

Sean,

First off, let me say that the allusion in the epigraph becomes a good metaphor for what you’re trying to do. At first, the second stanza, where you start to work out that metaphor, is a little fuzzy. Ultimately it’s pretty clear what’s up: the sorrow and beauty of poetry is that it’s a cage of sorts but a beautiful (a robin redbreast in a cage and all) one which is sad because the window the speaker looks through only lets him see through it but not pass through it into experience. That’s pretty sorrowfully beautiful. You could fool around with the first line of stanza two—“the sorrow and beauty of poetry is this:--and put it before the “imagining you…” so that that experience is what the speaker can make up about the lost girl. Of course you want to keep all that imagery about dust, smudges, knife of sun, because that window is also important. As I read this again and again, after about a week, I’m a little less convinced that you need to “unfuzz” what comes after that colon, but at first I was worried that there was too much, the rest of the poem really, to attach to that fifth line. Does any of this make sense?

Another suggestion: the dramatic situation seems to be a guy sitting in his office writing a poem. The second stanza, with the “here” in its final line, establishes an initial d.s. at his house. This isn’t a huge problem, but the scene shift later, on a literal level, probably isn’t what you want to do. You could turn all that window smudging and porch sweeping into a continual present (dust collecting on my bedroom window’s pane, smudges of prints of people there before as I wake up mornings) so that what I think is the real d.s. maintains consistency from beginning to end. In other words, this guy, sitting in his office, tells us about waking up and thinking his girl with someone else, but he’s in his office the whole time he’s telling us.

Okay, enough of rhetoric. Allow me to address some localized shizzel dizzel, proper latin like. The first stanza has a lot of adjectives: child-like, cement, jail, open. “Open,” though, seems to be the important one there for important, ironic reasons. In the second stanza, the sun does make it through that window, or at least its light does, so maybe you could say the sun knifes its way in, that is unless you want to suggest just a little bit comes in through a partially opened blind or something, in which case the “trying” might be good enough. That verb is ordinarily weak, but it does have some resonance in a poem about trying to break through with imagination. Third stanza also could use some adjective adjustments. “Darkened” seems different from just “dark” and suggests that there’s more than a mere absence of light in there. Do you want that? If you’re just after description, the sun coming in just a little in the morning would by itself suggest that the room’s dark. “Cold shards of snow”: I would say do away with cold for tautological reasons. I like shards, and this might sound like nitpicking because I know what you mean by that phrase, but snow can’t really be in shards; snow-crusted ice can, or something like that.

“His laughter filling the slick hall with yours” means of course that his laughter fills the hall along with hers, but at first it seems that his laughter is using hers to fill the hall, which sounds really mysterious and usurping on that bastard’s part, but I don’t know if you intend that. You could say something like “his laughter and yours filling the slick hall.”

I don’t have much to say about the final stanza. I think you resolve the expectations pretty damn well. “Lines” is a poignant pun on drawing and poetry, so salut! for that. I also like that the speaker wishes to be with someone new and not the former girl.

Well, Seany, I hope you can do something with all of this. I really like this poem. You’re not insistent about the metaphor, which is probably the best thing about it.

:: Paul 3/23/2003 10:06:00 PM [+] ::
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