The Lunatick

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cynwulf
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The Lunatick

Post by cynwulf » Sat Nov 16, 2013 10:59 pm

The Lunatick
Enlightenment on the Lichfield to Birmingham Road. Late 18thC.

The moonlight pouring through the copse
Drips in eddies over the rider,
Studying the road's track through the shadows into the valley.

The ancient city gleams-grey under the full moon.
Three stark spires reach from its corpse-field,
Seeking the meaningless ornament of stars.

He shifts in the saddle, tightening and dropping the reins.
Fearful of the perils and dangers of this night,
He is grateful for the moon, though he thanks no God.

Now, he turns, spurs south to meet the others,
Trotting, at first, towards the furnace-bloodied sky,
Breaking then into a gallop on to that counterfeited dawn.

On across the heaths, through withered woods,
Across defeated streams,on to the smoke-filled melanoma,
Metastatising on the gentle Midland hills.

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Jackie
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Re: The Lunatick

Post by Jackie » Sun Nov 17, 2013 8:03 am

Good--another new poem to read. The setting sounds intriguing so I'm coming back for some more readings.

Just a first impression: all the adjectives give the reader a lot of qualifying to wade through so it takes time to access your content.

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ray miller
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Re: The Lunatick

Post by ray miller » Sun Nov 17, 2013 12:47 pm

I like the 2nd verse and the last, the rest not so much.
The idea that one might find enlightenment on the road to Birmingham is certainly a testament to lunacy.

Studying the road's track through the shadows into the valley - one or the other would do

Three stark spires reach from its corpse-field,
Seeking the meaningless ornament of stars - nice lines, I like corpse-field

Now, he turns, spurs south to meet the others, - it seems odd that a lunatic would be going to meet others, rather than fleeing them.
Trotting, at first, towards the furnace-bloodied sky,
Breaking then into a gallop on to that counterfeited dawn. - I don't understand counterfeited dawn.

Nice ending. Is this about a particular historical figure?
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: The Lunatick

Post by Macavity » Sun Nov 17, 2013 1:50 pm

cynwulf wrote:The Lunatick
Enlightenment on the Lichfield to Birmingham Road. Late 18thC.

The moonlight pouring through the copse
Drips in eddies over the rider,
Studying the road's track through the shadows into the valley.....................why not just road... or just track?

The ancient city gleams-grey under the full moon......................................it is a city, but not an ancient one
Three stark spires reach from its corpse-field,
Seeking the meaningless ornament of stars......................................if ornaments, assume meaningless?

He shifts in the saddle, tightening and dropping the reins.
Fearful of the perils and dangers of this night,.........................................perils and dangers is telling, not showing, almost cliche?
He is grateful for the moon, though he thanks no God............................like how you again allude to the 'heavens', like the strength in this line

Now, he turns, spurs south to meet the others,
Trotting, at first, towards the furnace-bloodied sky,
Breaking then into a gallop on to that counterfeited dawn....maybe 'counterfeit of dawn, since already had 'furnace-bloodied'

On across the heaths, through withered woods..............................heaths/woods/streams...a lot of 's sound'...why not just 'heath'? 'withered oak'?
Across defeated streams,on to the smoke-filled melanoma,...................'defeated' is too laboured
Metastatising on the gentle Midland hills............................................gentle sounds sentimental, the cancer references were effective
interesting

mac

cynwulf
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Re: The Lunatick

Post by cynwulf » Sun Nov 17, 2013 2:44 pm

Hi Jackie,
You're right I'm overfond of adjectives-need to slim when I revise

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Re: The Lunatick

Post by cynwulf » Sun Nov 17, 2013 2:55 pm

Hello Ray,
Thanks for your comments. Counterfeited dawn refers to the sky lit by furnaces ie a human made dawn, and further perhaps, the dawning industrial revolution. The poem is meant as an ironic view of "progress". I did have a figure in mind-William Withering, member of the B'ham Lunar Soc -he was the physician who introduced digitalin to the medical profession.

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Re: The Lunatick

Post by ray miller » Sun Nov 17, 2013 2:56 pm

I googled a bit. Shouldn't the title be The Lunartick? Still curious as to which Lunar Society member this refers to.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: The Lunatick

Post by cynwulf » Sun Nov 17, 2013 3:45 pm

Hi Mac,
Thanks for your comments and for reading my effusion. Much appreciated. A few responses:

road/track--yes, you're right line needs revision, as it needs a double syllable there

ancient city-- the city referred to is Lichfield which had its origins in the Roman town of Letocetum, this name probably refers to a celtic settlement as it is itself even older; Brythonic originally (cf modern Welsh-llwyd coed) meaning The Grey Wood (hence grey in the poem...... part of what my English teacher would have said was my wilful obscurity, unfortunately I haven't grown out of it).

Meaningless-- are all ornaments meaningless? I was trying to emphasise the observers rationalistic life-view,I need to think more about that.

Perils and dangers-- is a typical Cranmerian pleonasm. It's a quote from a collect of the CofE service of Evensong (Book of Common Prayer)..."Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord, and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils....." Wilful obscurity strikes again? I used that to emphasise his enlightenment rationalism.

English has an over supply of sibilants, hard to avoid, needs amendment here. Defeated- trying to say 'dead' , I had thought of noxious, noisome etc but didn't feel they worked as well. Gentle was intended as an emotional contast to the tumour of the city we now know affectionately as 'Brum'.

Again,thanks for reading my verse.

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Re: The Lunatick

Post by Antcliff » Sun Nov 17, 2013 7:47 pm

Hi cynwulf

enjoyed this nicely drawn historical scene.

I wasn't sure about the moonlight description. It is pouring throught the trees (okay) but also "dripping in eddies over" the rider. I am not sure I can quite get a picture of dripping in eddies. I will need to ponder.

Does there need to be a comma after rider? Not sure.

Seth
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

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Re: The Lunatick

Post by David2 » Sun Nov 17, 2013 8:22 pm

Hi Cynwulf. That's a pretty interesting nom de plume (let's say pen-name, to keep it A-S) - I thought it had an Anglo-Saxon ring, and after googling I see it does.

I rather liked this.

I don't really see the moonlight dripping in eddies - it doesn't move like that, does it?

I don't mind "the road's track" - he's clearly studying the way the road goes on ahead of him - he's not just studying the road.

Not sure about the hyphen in "gleams-grey".

That corpse-field sounds like good Anglo-Saxon - a kenning?

I like the "meaningless" ornament.

Three full stops in S3?

I like S4 just as it is.

I really don't like the use of melanoma, although I can see it's effective (and quite a nice play on the idea of London as the Great Wen), and I don't like "metastatising" (metastasising?) either, although I can see the two go well together. I used "metastasizing" in a poem recently, and was roundly rebuked for it, although I thought it worked in situ, but as a reader it does stick out like the proverbial s t.

Still, as I say, I liked this overall.

Cheers

David

cynwulf
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Re: The Lunatick

Post by cynwulf » Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:41 pm

Hi David,
Thanks for reading this. Your comments are useful, my responses:

dripping eddying--trying to suggest the movement of shadows caused by the trees, idea of dripping came from listening to Beethoven's piano sonata which seems to drip, need to think, problem is almost any epithet comes as hackneyed with moonlight;

you're right hyphen shd go in gleams grey;

corpse field is meant as a kenning, but not one an A/S scop would think much of, it's intended as a comment on the dead hand of the anglican and civic establishment in the town, and to the actual corpses in the cathedral and around the close, and on a possible etymology of Lichfield which some think means field of the dead. A/S poetry fascinates me -to the extent that I'm trying to write an elegy on the Black Country in the old alliterative metre;

Metastasising was spelt wrongly, apologies for my proof reading, I still feel this metaphor is worth keeping as it is meant to be unpleasant/shocking.
Your comments are much appreciated.
Best wishes Cynwulf

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Re: The Lunatick

Post by cynwulf » Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:56 pm

Hello again Ray,
Lunartick seems to be a Wikipedia aberration, not always reliable-they claimed in an article on the Lunar Soc that Boulton's Soho works was in London (that may now have been corrected). All the historians I have read say Lunatick eg Dr Kate Iles (Lecture at B'ham University-see Uni's website) and Hart-Davis (Science(2001) 292(6)pp55-56).
Regards, Cynwulf.

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Re: The Lunatick

Post by ray miller » Mon Nov 18, 2013 10:00 pm

I'll take your word for it then, Cynwulf. I should know better than trust Wikipedia. Where do you live, if you don't mind me asking?
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: The Lunatick

Post by cynwulf » Mon Nov 18, 2013 10:14 pm

I now live in N Yorks, but my heart is still in the West Midlands and the Welsh Marches, I have spent more than half my life in that part of the world, Edgbaston, Sedgley and Wolverhampton and I wd like my remains to be scattered on The Stiperstones when that day comes.
Regards, Cynwulf.

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