Epistle to Ms Austen

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Macavity
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Epistle to Ms Austen

Post by Macavity » Sat Jul 13, 2019 6:43 am

Dear Jane, although I do not have your mind,
A mind that makes moral choices so clear,
Clear enough now for me to right my wrongs,
The wrongs that take refuge in life's muddles,
For muddles marinate in solitude;
Yet solitude gives thought for humankind,
A humankind in which we both belong,
Belong because we live not for puzzles,
Those puzzles are a solace only for fears,
For fears will offer no solicitude.
I learn solicitude from you dear Jane.

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Re: Epistle to Ms Austen

Post by JJWilliamson » Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:39 pm

I enjoyed this poem, mac, especially for its delightful looping as the poem progressed.
Your meter is excellent all the way through and I see you've used a few troches and one anapest
to break the rhythm. The blank verse also helps and yet I always felt like I was reading a poem.

The content is a touch vague, at least it is for me, but it was easy enough to follow your train of thought.
She was known for her irony and I wondered if you'd secreted a nod in there somewhere.

Best

JJ
Long time a child and still a child

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Re: Epistle to Ms Austen

Post by Leaf » Sat Jul 13, 2019 6:06 pm

Hi mac,

This epistle is intriguing; it looks like the final word in each line is repeated as either the first or second word in the next line, and the last two words are the first two words. Is there a name for this form? I don't think I've seen it before.

Is the poem in pentameter, perchance? I do like 'muddles marinate' :)

Best wishes,
Leaf

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Re: Epistle to Ms Austen

Post by Poet » Sun Jul 14, 2019 4:11 am

Wow I just love the way it flows, great poem, nothing to really add other than how great it flows, just like a river.

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Re: Epistle to Ms Austen

Post by Perry » Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:09 am

I don't remember if I read any of Austen's novels. I know that must make me seem like a cretin to a lot of you well-read intellectuals, but I was a slow reader when I was young, and Austen's novels were never required in the American schools I attended. My reading life then focussed mainly on non-fiction for the rest of my life.

What I read of this poem I definitely like, but I know I would appreciate it much more if I were familiar with Austen's writing. Not knowing Austen's writing, the only line in the poem which strikes me as questionable is this:

Belong because we live not for puzzles,

Is not living for puzzles a reason for anyone to belong to humankind? Your meaning in that line isn't quite clear to me, although perhaps I would understand it if I knew Austen's writing. Can you explain what you mean?

It isn't too late to read one of her novels. Which one do you recommend most highly?
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: Epistle to Ms Austen

Post by David » Sun Jul 14, 2019 10:36 am

I read this when it was only called Epistle, and I didn't pick up on Jane at all. Perhaps I should have done. I'll try again now.
Perry wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:09 am
It isn't too late to read one of her novels. Which one do you recommend most highly?
Pride and Prejudice is the great crowd-pleaser, Perry - and rightly so. I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy it, once you've accommodated yourself to the English of the Regency period.

Cheers

David

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Re: Epistle to Ms Austen

Post by Macavity » Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:13 am

Thank you JJ, David, Perry, Poet, and Leaf. This was my attempt to write a 'quick' poem rather than my usual slow process. As a result it is a watery soup, but it was fun to write because my recent habit is to re-read a few of Austen's novels each year. This year she planted the word solicitude in my head.
The blank verse also helps and yet I always felt like I was reading a poem
Well, there are some end line chimes in there JJ, but perhaps a little distant from each other :)
This epistle is intriguing; it looks like the final word in each line is repeated as either the first or second word in the next line, and the last two words are the first two words. Is there a name for this form? I don't think I've seen it before.
I've been told it is a technique, rather than form, called the 'French Chain'.
Pride and Prejudice is the great crowd-pleaser, Perry - and rightly so. I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy it
I would recommend that one too. The central character, Elizabeth Bennet, I admire for her honesty. The book brilliantly punctures assumed superiority.

all the best

mac

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Re: Epistle to Ms Austen

Post by ray miller » Tue Jul 16, 2019 9:49 am

Enjoyed. The lengthy convoluted sentence is Austen-like enough. Do muddles marinate in solicitude? I wonder if you're just being ironic or if there's something specific you're referencing.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: Epistle to Ms Austen

Post by twoleftfeet » Tue Jul 16, 2019 11:51 am

Hi,Mac

I admire the way that you've chained "solace" and "solicitude" together logically as well as in the structure of the poem.

Surely solitude allow muddled water to become clear,though? That's what Buddha reckons,anyway. :)

Regards
Geoff
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Re: Epistle to Ms Austen

Post by Perry » Tue Jul 16, 2019 12:22 pm

It might be good for me to read a novel after my last one (about 30 years ago). I remember what a good escape a good novel can be.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: Epistle to Ms Austen

Post by David » Tue Jul 16, 2019 4:35 pm

I suppose the first and last lines could sound a bit like her, but I don't think what comes in between does. And she'd probably rather gnaw her right foot off than write something like "For muddles marinate in solitude" (although I fear you'll refute that with some well chosen quotation now).

But that doesn't mean it isn't fun and effective as a poem in itself. I enjoyed it anyway - on non-Janeite terms.

Cheers

David

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Re: Epistle to Ms Austen

Post by Macavity » Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:00 pm

Thank you David, Perry, Geoff and Ray.
Surely solitude allow muddled water to become clear,though? That's what Buddha reckons,anyway. :)
For those into spiritual journeys I'm sure that generalisation is appropriate too! :)
And she'd probably rather gnaw her right foot off
:lol: Now that must be an image that never entered her head! Even in Northanger Abbey.

The poem is not a pastiche, that would need a better writer than me, but I'm sure Jane would approve of 'being sensible' and behaving with solicitude.

cheers

mac

Leaf

Re: Epistle to Ms Austen

Post by Leaf » Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:23 pm

Macavity wrote:
Tue Jul 16, 2019 6:13 am
This epistle is intriguing; it looks like the final word in each line is repeated as either the first or second word in the next line, and the last two words are the first two words. Is there a name for this form? I don't think I've seen it before.
I've been told it is a technique, rather than form, called the 'French Chain'.
Thanks, mac; that's interesting. I'll have to do a little research :-)

Best wishes,
Leaf

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Re: Epistle to Ms Austen

Post by bjondon » Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:14 pm

Late to the party as usual, but I did enjoy this spotlight on Jane.
'Dear' feels right, and 'Ms' too.
Has it reallly taken us 200 years to finally catch on to what she was up to?
Fast write this may be but it has great flow and seems plum full of thought provoking cherries.
The theme is one of those impossible (self-parodical?) austenish formulations 'Solitude and Solicitude'.
A meditation perhaps on the dangers of self-sufficiency and solipsism - life lived as a solvable puzzle (when going well) or a marinated muddle (when not) - both of those options bounded by our own preconceptions versus the adventure of opening yourself to other people, noticing the barricades we build to avoid insecurities and discomforts of not knowing, seeing that our wellbeing (psychological and as a whole society) depends on us acknowledging our 'in the moment', 'learning by doing'(and specifically with other people) social brain. Just getting out more!

The poem is a curious sentence, a mind meandering and in debate with itself. [Though nicely framed almost as a form of prayer offered up in The Church of Jane].
The 'although' of L1 is not really resolved by the 'yet' of L6, having been diverted or perhaps muddled by this continually sprouting chain of considerations.
Is the poem making a case for muddled marinations?
Is a poem a muddled marination? …it is certainly a little puzzle offered to the reader, with or without a possible solution.
I like the ambiguity of the central L6 (intended?) 'Yet solitude gives thought for humankind' - that could either mean that when we dwell in solitude our thoughts turn to others, or it could be read as meaning that much truly valuable constructive creative thinking comes from a single mind turning in on itself. I think the poem gains strength from acknowledging the value of internally engendered puzzles and soutions (if we choose to make that interpretation!) but the central and quite radical statement of the poem (and arguably Austen's oeuvre) is quite the opposite.
'Those puzzles are a solace only for fears' - that is quite an extraordinary little statement. We do indeed construct so many self-referential puzzles in our civilisation, and draw much solace from making apparent progress with them, soothing our egos both personal and collective. Yet without making a continual allowance for, and overture towards the existence of others (i.e. the possibility of things existing beyond the framework of our own understandings) this soothing solitude could well be an echo chamber, an illusion constructed not on moderation and enlightened knowledge (how we like to think of it) but actually fed and bias-confirmed by our fears and deep-seated insecurities.

Have I mined the poem to dig out my own particular bias-confirmed wisdoms? I hope not . . . I do feel it took me on a journey (Just googling 'Jane Austen Empathy' to see what would happen opened up a surprisingly multivarious and highly topical rabbit hole).
I think a good koan with one or two nuggety paradoxes at its heart works like this.

Can I rustle up any niggles? Just for this evening 'Epistle' seems a little too quaint, so I'm leaning towards 'Letter' … that's the best I can do!

Regards,
Jules

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Re: Epistle to Ms Austen

Post by Macavity » Thu Jul 18, 2019 5:19 am

Have I mined the poem to dig out my own particular bias-confirmed wisdoms? I hope not . . .
No, you have not Jules! Deeply appreciative of your empathetic reading. Poems only escape their solitude with solicitous readers :)

all the best

mac

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Re: Epistle to Ms Austen

Post by riverrun » Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:41 pm

This little poem reminded me of a conversation I had with a teacher some time ago on how a woman (Jane Austen) writing about the british landed gentry at the end of the 18th century would become so popular, imitated and translated (here on Brazil she only 'lose' to Shakespeare in the publishing market)? One part of this answer is in the title of your poem: epistle. The etymology can clearly explain (epistle = letter) but also always remind me St Paul before he became a saint. In jail he would write the famous epistles. Only the jail would offer to him the necessary background to do so. In some ways Jane Austen was also in prision at her time. And she wrote more than 3000 letters. The act of writing letters is different from writing novels and poems. Novelists and poets know and want to be read by a wide audience. Letters have a radically diverse reach. Letters are necessarily intimate. Poems and novels are openly desired simulations (mimesis); letters, on contrary, are confessions (catharsis). The choice of loop is elegant, takes us to the point where we started, leading us that point we try to escape.

best

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Re: Epistle to Ms Austen

Post by Macavity » Thu Jul 25, 2019 5:52 am

In some ways Jane Austen was also in prision at her time.
Thank you Riverrun. Yes, that is a viewpoint, unfortunately her relatives destroyed most of her letters and so specualation must be based on the social, class and gender limitations of that period and, of course, her fictional work. However, letters are a key plot device in her work, revealing the internal monologue and exposing the concealed anxieties of characters. I'm currently reading Emma and reference is made to 'intellectual solitude'. My viewpoint, that Austen choosing to write about restricted social circles, does imply her own frustration, though she did have the 'freedom' and circumstances to write.

best

mac

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Re: Epistle to Ms Austen

Post by Firebird » Fri Jul 26, 2019 6:29 am

Hi Mac,

I think ‘muddles marinate in solitude’ is perfect and so true. Great phrasing. I’m not sure about the form - the end of each line being repeated in some way at the beginning of the next. I think it might work better without this and thinned out a little. I could be overlaying what I like in a poem though on a poem that works perfectly well in a different type of way.

Cheers,

Tristan

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Re: Epistle to Ms Austen

Post by David » Fri Jul 26, 2019 5:00 pm

I don't want to be too down on "muddles marinate in solitude" - it is, in itself, a likeable turn of phrase - but I would still maintain that it's positively un-Jane-like.

Quick online search of the texts: muddles = 0 results, marinate = 0 results, solitude = 55 results (unsurprisingly).

Which makes the combination a bit of a non-starter - its intrinsic likeability notwithstanding.

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Re: Epistle to Ms Austen

Post by Macavity » Fri Jul 26, 2019 6:22 pm

Firebird wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 6:29 am
Hi Mac,

I think ‘muddles marinate in solitude’ is perfect and so true. Great phrasing. I’m not sure about the form - the end of each line being repeated in some way at the beginning of the next. I think it might work better without this and thinned out a little. I could be overlaying what I like in a poem though on a poem that works perfectly well in a different type of way.

Cheers,

Tristan
Thanks Tristan. Nice to see you're about! Yes, repetition and condensing are both characteristics of poetry. I quite like the depiction of the thought process in this form.

cheers

mac

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Re: Epistle to Ms Austen

Post by Macavity » Fri Jul 26, 2019 6:33 pm

David wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 5:00 pm
I don't want to be too down on "muddles marinate in solitude" - it is, in itself, a likeable turn of phrase - but I would still maintain that it's positively un-Jane-like.

Quick online search of the texts: muddles = 0 results, marinate = 0 results, solitude = 55 results (unsurprisingly).

Which makes the combination a bit of a non-starter - its intrinsic likeability notwithstanding.
The power of google! :lol: Actually, any food referencing is very Austen...dining is always in the plot...as are misunderstandings...but I agree the expression is more Mac than Austen :)

https://www.janeausten.co.uk/tag/marinade/

best

mac

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Re: Epistle to Ms Austen

Post by David » Fri Jul 26, 2019 7:34 pm

Macavity wrote:
Fri Jul 26, 2019 6:33 pm
The power of google! :lol: Actually, any food referencing is very Austen...dining is always in the plot...as are misunderstandings...but I agree the expression is more Mac than Austen :)
And I'm a fan of both.

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Re: Epistle to Ms Austen

Post by Firebird » Sat Jul 27, 2019 7:56 am

Yes, repetition and condensing are both characteristics of poetry.
Fully agree.

I’m about most of the time, but of late just haven’t had time to comment, as been busy helping to run a campaign to save a green area in York.

Cheers,

Tristan

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