Memoriam

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CSThompson
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Memoriam

Post by CSThompson » Mon Oct 18, 2010 4:25 pm

1
At the edge of the water, the mist comes in.
Sorrow brushes my neck, just as light as a dream.
There is a distant horn across the deep, flat bay-
It is only a warning to keep the boats away,
But I shudder, regardless, at the ebb and the flow,
For the things that must come
And the things that must go
For the things that dwell deep, on the ocean's floor,
And the hint of a message from the farthest shore.
2
And you stand there again, with a demon's mad eyes,
But as silent, and solemn, and fearful as me.
And the wind drops to nothing, as empty and still
As the depths of the ocean. And there, in the chill,
We are both of us haunted. The things we have done,
Either you as my father
Or me as your son-
Though we drown them as deep as the ocean's floor,
They cannot be erased or denied anymore.
3
It is I who speaks first. "After all, though," I say,
"I'm a demon as well. None has known me but you."
And the wind from the ocean moans out once again
Like the cold, subtle touch of this loss on my skin.
And you nod there, in silence, inclining your head.
"Let me tell, you then, son,
Of the things of the dead,
Of the song that I heard in the ocean's roar
And the secret knowledge of the other shore."
4
So you speak, for a time, and I hear, with respect
Of the burdens and wisdom and songs of the dead.
Then the horn cries again from across the dark bay
And you look in my eyes. "They have called me away."
I had no chance to speak- when I blinked, you were gone.
And of all of those words
I remember not one.
But I will have cause to recall them once more
When I stand at your side on the farthest shore.

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Re: Memoriam

Post by brianedwards » Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:49 am

I'm afraid this does nothing for me at all CS. The situation is quite contrived and described through clichéd language and images. I have a feeling you have achieved exactly what you intended in terms of mood and sentiment, but as contemporary poetry it does little to engage or excite the reader. I suggest you should look firstly at your use of modifiers, and also your reliance on abstract ideas such as "sorrow" and "dreams".

At risk of sounding incredibly condescending, do you read much contemporary poetry? Not my intention to offend here, we're all here to learn and share and if we aren't honest there's no point. I hope you take these comments in the spirit they are offered.

B.

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Re: Memoriam

Post by David » Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:03 pm

An old-fashioned metric rhyming thing. Nothing wrong with that. Some of the rhyming is a bit limp - "in" and "dream" is not a good start - and "the things that must come / And the things that must go" feels a bit over-familiar.

On the other hand, some of the lines have a nice sort of Frostian simplicity - I like "It is only a warning to keep the boats away" for instance.

I'm finding this demon stuff quite strange. Is this a personal idiosyncrasy of yours? Having said that, it does raise distant echoes of EAP, which is quite fun. The references to "the shore" seem to have the same effect as well. In fact, there seems to be a lot of Poe in this. One of your favourites?

Cheers

David

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Re: Memoriam

Post by CSThompson » Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:19 am

The truth is, I don't really read any contemporary poetry in English except to check in occasionally and find that I am still pretty far out of sympathy with it. That said, I've been finding a lot to enjoy on this forum and a few others, and I hope some of my other poems might strike more of a chord.

As for the situation in the poem, it's a literal rendering of a dream I had after my father passed away while racing on the ocean, which of course has nothing to do with whether anyone else enjoys it or not.

Poe's not a huge favorite of mine, but I do enjoy Baudelaire. The supenatural imagery is a typical theme of mine.

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Re: Memoriam

Post by CSThompson » Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:48 am

To expand a bit on a previous point- I sometimes feel that contemporary poets are afraid to do a number of things that used to be considered perfectly legitimate, and that poetry is the worse for it. A great deal of contemporary poetry seems dry and distant to me. I got into poetry 25 years ago reading Blake, Coleridge, Keats, Yeats and Frost and I still like that stuff a lot better than almost anything in the past several decades. I suspect we have very different ideas about what constitutes a good poem, but I can see why you felt some of my language was vague or abstract. You were right that I was trying to create a particular mood. That mood might be considered a cliche now, but I still like it.

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Re: Memoriam

Post by Ros » Wed Oct 20, 2010 8:23 am

I'd say stick with what you like, but beware that this forum is geared towards the more contemporary, so you may have to work at bit at convincing some of us! I think all the features you probably like can work well in contemp stuff, but that you still have to work hard at avoiding the vague or cliched. But if you're enjoying some of the poems here, we may yet convert you.

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Re: Memoriam

Post by CSThompson » Wed Oct 20, 2010 2:06 pm

Well, you can try to convert me then, and I'll try to convert you. It's on! :D

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Re: Memoriam

Post by stuartryder » Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:02 am

CS

For me, this is the sort of heartfelt verse I used to thrive on, but it doesn't take me anywhere now. I had to learn that you need to find new ways to say the same things. This poem has an easy swing and an identity that we can all go with, but it is in the sort of frame that has been built so often before and by better and famous earlier poets.

It is a bit like a blues guitarist in a pub playing their own songs but they just sound like an amateur Dylan: not terrible by any means, but giving no reason to listen to it over Dylan itself.

My godfather has just died and I read it in that sense and it was a lovely piece of writing, but as a poem I do wonder if it does what it could.

The whole contemporary thing... I'm dubious too, but I don't feel that contemporary poets are cold and unemotional per se -- rather, they are looking for new and current ways to express their emotions. You shouldn't let the presentation get in the way of the message. Or rather, you should present in the modern way to get it across to the modern reader.

Note that I didn't say "Modern".
CSThompson wrote:1
At the edge of the water, the mist comes in.
Sorrow brushes my neck, just as light as a dream.
There is a distant horn across the deep, flat bay-
It is only a warning to keep the boats away,
But I shudder, regardless, at the ebb and the flow,
For the things that must come
And the things that must go
For the things that dwell deep, on the ocean's floor,
And the hint of a message from the farthest shore.
2
And you stand there again, with a demon's mad eyes,
But as silent, and solemn, and fearful as me.
And the wind drops to nothing, as empty and still
As the depths of the ocean. And there, in the chill,
We are both of us haunted. The things we have done,
Either you as my father
Or me as your son-
Though we drown them as deep as the ocean's floor,
They cannot be erased or denied anymore.
3
It is I who speaks first. "After all, though," I say,
"I'm a demon as well. None has known me but you."
And the wind from the ocean moans out once again
Like the cold, subtle touch of this loss on my skin.
And you nod there, in silence, inclining your head.
"Let me tell, you then, son,
Of the things of the dead,
Of the song that I heard in the ocean's roar
And the secret knowledge of the other shore."
4
So you speak, for a time, and I hear, with respect
Of the burdens and wisdom and songs of the dead.
Then the horn cries again from across the dark bay
And you look in my eyes. "They have called me away."
I had no chance to speak- when I blinked, you were gone.
And of all of those words
I remember not one.
But I will have cause to recall them once more
When I stand at your side on the farthest shore.

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Re: Memoriam

Post by coffeedodger » Thu Oct 21, 2010 1:30 am

I'm not keen on the trend amongst the trendianista to impose their trendy notions of what the less trendy ought to be tending towards.

Form, rhyme, rhythm and meter have been pretty much discarded in the pursuit of 'modernism'. That's all well and good if something good comes out of it, but I'm sick and tired of reading things described as poems with no capitalisation, no grammer, no punctuation, no form, no meter, no rhythm, no imagery, no meaning and no poetry to them being praised, lauded and published.

The King is in the altogether......

However, I do think that although this piece is nicely constructed and has a poetic flow, there is absolutely nothing new in it. The rhymes are predictable and bland, the subject matter and much of the expression is desperately cliched and derivative. I'm afraid I got bored before the end because as someone else says, it's all be done before and done better over the past 300 years. I'd still rather read this though, than some of the drivel that passes for poetry elsewhere on this forum.

Many contemporay poets decry traditional form and rhyme as old fashioned and therefore irrelevant to contemporary life. Yet there is a genuine skill in writing fresh poetry in a traditional form, so rather than knocking style per se, we should be discussing substance. Just because something is modern or contemporary doesn't mean it is good. You only need to look at architecture and furniture to see that modernism has destroyed both the art and craft of design and reduced it to its bare fundaments. The same can be said for much of the free form (formless) writing that modern poets claim is poetry. Free form with strong fresh imagery combined with engaging subject matter CAN be beautiful, intense, thought provoking and passionate. Rhyme, rhythm and meter with strong fresh imagery combined with engaging subject matter CAN also be beautiful, intense, thought provoking and passionate. To me 'contemporary' poetry is wrongly defined as being about HOW a poem is written rather than how WELL it is written combined with the relevance of its content to contemporary life and philosophy.

In both cases the CAN becomes IS when traditional craftsmanship and traditional skills are presented appropriately in the context of a world that is vastly different from the world which Wordsworth, Keats et al inhabited. But just to say a poem written in a traditional form can't be contemporary is ridiculous.

So, by all means, continue to write and create poetry that utilises the grace and elegance of rhyme, but try to ensure it is graceful and elegant, that it is relevant to the 21st Century and that it isn't just a hackneyed rehash of the contents of 10,000 dusty volumes of doggerel cobbled together by 100,000 untalented dead writers. Frankly I'd rather read the collected works of William MacGonnagal than those of Wordsworth, or something like this, or at the other end of the scale, the garbage elitist craftless, empty modernism of the likes of Jen Hadfield and her tedious lists of Scottish fish and ships.

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Re: Memoriam

Post by David » Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:36 am

coffeedodger wrote:Frankly I'd rather read the collected works of William MacGonnagal than those of Wordsworth, or something like this
Really? Surely not! (You're putting CS in very exalted company there.) Up until that point I thought your post had lucid intervals, but you lost me completely there.

I haven't read Jen Hadfield, but I like the sound of tedious lists of Scottish fish and ships. (That's not a typo for chips, is it?) Sounds very Homeresque. (And I think my good friend Elphin has recommended her, which is good enough for me.)

But surely lots of modern poets are still writing in rhyme and metre? Often in metre, at the very least. I think you're overdoing the self-martyrisation. All you've got to do is write well in rhyme and metre. That's the trick.

And God alone knows who the trendianista are. Are they here among us?

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Re: Memoriam

Post by stuartryder » Thu Oct 21, 2010 9:48 am

You probably should check your own "grammer" first, Coffeedodger, before declaiming against anyone else's.

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Re: Memoriam

Post by Ros » Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:33 pm

I don't believe anyone said that writing in a traditional form can't be contemporary. Some of us were only recently being accused of being neo-formalists... As David said, the trick is to do it well. And that is very difficult.

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Re: Memoriam

Post by Mic » Thu Oct 21, 2010 3:05 pm

How to disagree:
http://www.paulgraham.com/disagree.html

Luv to all,

Mic
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Re: Memoriam

Post by David » Thu Oct 21, 2010 3:11 pm

Mic wrote:How to disagree:
http://www.paulgraham.com/disagree.html
You mean to say I've been doing it wrong, all this time?
Mic wrote: Luv to all
Now there's a faith I'd sign up for.

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Re: Memoriam

Post by Ros » Thu Oct 21, 2010 6:17 pm

Actually, that's a pretty useful link.
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Re: Memoriam

Post by CSThompson » Thu Oct 21, 2010 7:07 pm

McGonagall? Really? I think someone's getting carried away here.

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Re: Memoriam

Post by David » Thu Oct 21, 2010 7:25 pm

CSThompson wrote:McGonagall? Really? I think someone's getting carried away here.
Quite.

(Your poem got hijacked, CS, and is being held hostage by fundamentalist terrorists. Sorry about that. It seems to happen a lot here.)

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Re: Memoriam

Post by CSThompson » Thu Oct 21, 2010 7:49 pm

Honestly, I prefer the comments by people who just didn't like it. Sorry I let the crusade down...

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Re: Memoriam

Post by coffeedodger » Thu Oct 28, 2010 2:21 am

Ships is not a typo.

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Re: Memoriam

Post by brianedwards » Thu Oct 28, 2010 2:28 am

coffeedodger wrote:Ships is not a typo.
Is "grammer"?

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