The New Life

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k-j
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The New Life

Post by k-j » Sun Nov 27, 2011 4:51 am

(revised)

The New Life

Easter Sunday is the day I associate with you,
because that day I shambled through Battersea,
a man trapped fast between a new
love and an old, and few men have a gait flat as he:
and that was me, crossing the Albert Bridge frostily twinkling,
and entering Chelsea, the previous unprofitable year
manacling me by the ankles. But an inkling
of better luck. And in a shadow the shop of a chocolatier

ablaze with light and luscious caramel and rose-
coloured wrapping and ribbon, and I walked in:
it was just me there with my confusion, plus I suppose
the artisan himself. And then I balked: in
a splendid cabinet rested an array of eggs,
dense and dark and sparkling, and muralled round
with incantations as long and lovely as your legs,
and more intricately patterned and profound

than the river I'd just traversed.
I spent about a hundred quid, I think (it felt
like more at the time). As I left the shop a burst
of cold wind hit me and sunlight fell full-pelt
and I knew I was right to give up my old existence.
I walked back to your flat on Cambridge Rd.,
it was two, ten, a hundred miles, it was any distance,
it was SW11, Narnia, it was any postal code.

_________________________________________________

Easter Sunday is the day I associate with you,
because that day I wandered through Wandsworth,
where nary a dream comes true,
and wept a bucketful - a pond's worth -
until I staggered over the Albert Bridge, frostily twinkling,
and entered Chelsea, the previous unprofitable year
cold around my leg like a manacle. But an inkling
of better luck. And in a shadow the shop of a chocolatier

ablaze with light and luscious caramel and rose-
coloured wrapping and ribbon, and I walked in:
it was just me there with my confusion, plus I suppose
the artisan himself. And then I balked: in
a splendid cabinet rested an egg, or eggs,
dense and dark and sparkling, and muralled round
with incantations longer than your legs,
and more intricately patterned and profound

than the river I'd just traversed.
I spent about a hundred quid, I think (it felt
like more at the time). As I left the shop a burst
of cold wind hit me and sunlight fell full-pelt
and I knew I was right to give up my old existence.
I walked back to your flat on Cambridge Rd.,
it was two, ten, a hundred miles, it was any distance,
it was SW11, Narnia, it was any postal code.
Last edited by k-j on Mon Nov 28, 2011 11:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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emuse
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Re: The New Life

Post by emuse » Sun Nov 27, 2011 6:58 am

k-j wrote:Easter Sunday is the day I associate with you,
because that day I wandered through Wandsworth,
where nary a dream comes true,
and wept a bucketful - a pond's worth -
until I staggered over the Albert Bridge, frostily twinkling,
and entered Chelsea, the previous unprofitable year
cold around my leg like a manacle. But an inkling
of better luck. And in a shadow the shop of a chocolatier

ablaze with light and luscious caramel and rose-
coloured wrapping and ribbon, and I walked in:
it was just me there with my confusion, plus I suppose
the artisan himself. And then I balked: in
a splendid cabinet rested an egg, or eggs,
dense and dark and sparkling, and muralled round
with incantations longer than your legs,
and more intricately patterned and profound

than the river I'd just traversed.
I spent about a hundred quid, I think (it felt
like more at the time). As I left the shop a burst
of cold wind hit me and sunlight fell full-pelt
and I knew I was right to give up my old existence.
I walked back to your flat on Cambridge Rd.,
it was two, ten, a hundred miles, it was any distance,
it was SW11, Narnia, it was any postal code.
After reading this three times and really enjoying each successive run I admire most the casual, reflective style and the very rich details with great attention to alliteration. On the small stuff, I like to try to incorporate similes naturally into a poem rather than using "like" if I can avoid it. For example:

cold around my leg like a manacle

could be:

cold manacled my ankles

"incantations longer than your legs," is a very fine line that caught my attention.

I didn't understand the use of "balked" in the context in which the narrator places it. I see that there is a kind of epiphanic moment but why "balk". If the narrator resisted the directness of the urge to return to the subject, perhaps he balked at this?

The strength is in the seeming authenticity of the moment so richly recalled. What I am missing is toward the end. I want a little bit more of an open door into some aspect of why returning was important. Perhaps more of the subject the narrator focuses on needs to be known so one can make the leap from the narrator's reflection. For example, the long legs tell us something physical, sensual. I'd like to see another detail or two thrown in to make the reader connect a little deeper.

Hope this is helpful.

E




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Re: The New Life

Post by Ros » Sun Nov 27, 2011 11:58 am

This is an interesting mixture of the strangely prosaic 'the previous unprofitable year', 'it was just me there with my confusion, plus I suppose/the artisan himself.' and the richly detailed images, yet the rhyming and alliteration do sweep it along in a very successful way. Although balk does mean stop short, which is the image you need, the word seems to imply more of horror than amazement so I think an alternative would work better. I'm finding it hard to relate how the purchases resolve the weeping in v1 - I feel a bit more backstory is needed.
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Re: The New Life

Post by twoleftfeet » Sun Nov 27, 2011 2:18 pm

Bravo, k-j

Nits:

the Albert Bridge - you could lose "the".
- you wouldn't say "I staggered over the London Bridge/the Tower Bridge"

"egg, or eggs" - why the confusion?

Too many "and"s, although they do add pace to the narrative, I'll admit.

Geoff
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Instead of just sitting on the fence - why not stand in the middle of the road?

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Re: The New Life

Post by Antcliff » Sun Nov 27, 2011 2:46 pm

Hi
small point..
"weeping buckets" is a cliche and though you immediately peddle to get away from it - by introducing a pond o tears - I naturally wonder: why then mention the bucket at all? Why introduce a cliche if you are only going to peddle away from it at the first chance?
Ant
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Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
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Re: The New Life

Post by David » Sun Nov 27, 2011 3:16 pm

I very much like the idea of this. Who would not sing songs of praise to the woman who changed his life? And Easter Sunday is a wonderfully resonant day to have. (Slightly too much so?)

S1 is perhaps too jerky - and nary? Really? - but the bravura tongue-in-cheek rhyming is already very disarming. As for And in a shadow the shop of a chocolatier ... Love it!

S2 is better and S3 ... what can I say? It's just terrific, and the last four lines are (I'm stretching for superlatives here) simply wonderful. Oddly enough, each is an improvement on the last, so by the time we get to it was SW11, Narnia, it was any postal code the effect is completely magical.

I think you've honoured the inspiration.

Cheers

David

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Re: The New Life

Post by JohnLott » Sun Nov 27, 2011 4:06 pm

Hi k-j,
like others here, I like this but it does need tidying up.
Too many conjunctions.
Some confusions: shop in shadows with bright lights, glad you changed your old existence but you don't say how.
I felt the eggs, postal code etc were there for the rhyme.
Little things like 'or eggs'; why not cabinet with eggs?

Alliteration and enjambment are worked well.

:)

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Re: The New Life

Post by calico » Sun Nov 27, 2011 10:55 pm

k-j wrote: the previous unprofitable year
cold around my leg like a manacle.
That's really Christmas Carol.
It adds to the very Christmassey feeling I get from this - the frosty bridge, Narnia - without contradicting Easter somehow.
Interesting comment about the combination of prosaic asides with the poetic:

"...incantations longer than your legs,
and more intricately patterned and profound

than the river I'd just traversed.
I spent about a hundred quid, I think (it felt
like more at the time)."

an example there, where you break off in conversational mode, and then proceed into that final stanza which I find the most beautiful, and bracing, it takes me off guard with its....passion, I guess.
I'm using Easter resurrection subtextuality which goes against my instincts but the poem seems able to carry this off. Yes parts of this are absolutely swoonfully lovely.

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Re: The New Life

Post by k-j » Sun Nov 27, 2011 11:48 pm

Thanks all.

Some of you are balking at "balk", and I see your point, but changing it would screw up a nice rhyme.

There are some loose bits - the weeping seems particularly aberrant. Thanks and I think I'm going to rework the opening a bit. Also the "egg, or eggs" doesn't make much sense as a couple of you mention. The poem started out as a "dream" piece and this is left over from that.

Geoff, are you sure about no "the" with Albert Bridge? Sure it's not just a personal thing? I'm quite happy to drop "the" if it's proper, though we always used the definite article when I lived there.

Ant, interesting point. I feel like I have to have the cliche if I'm going to then subvert it don't I? On the other hand it wasn't intentional. You might be right.

David, yes, "nary" is rather silly. Thank you. It really was Easter Sunday though, I think (or it might have been Good Friday).

Redraft forthcoming.
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Re: The New Life

Post by Antcliff » Mon Nov 28, 2011 12:25 am

Hi
I read on....
"egg, or eggs," more profound
than the river I'd just traversed."

Don't see the point of being ambigious here...an egg perhaps, or eggs....but "egg or eggs"? Was there such a fog of eggishness in the cabinet that you could not tell whether there was more than one?

Ant
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Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
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Re: The New Life

Post by twoleftfeet » Mon Nov 28, 2011 11:44 am

k-j wrote:
Geoff, are you sure about no "the" with Albert Bridge? Sure it's not just a personal thing? I'm quite happy to drop "the" if it's proper, though we always used the definite article when I lived there.
I was extrapolating, k-j. If the locals say "the Albert Bridge" then clearly I'm wrong.
Thinking about it - why do we say "Nelson's Column" and not "the Nelson Column" ? :? DOH!!
Instead of just sitting on the fence - why not stand in the middle of the road?

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Re: The New Life

Post by k-j » Mon Nov 28, 2011 11:49 pm

Revision up with major reworking of S1 and one or two tweaks to S2.
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Re: The New Life

Post by Antcliff » Tue Nov 29, 2011 2:40 pm

Hi
Better for the completion of the egg count.
But...to my ear the first stanza is a little clunky..notably "and that was me". You have already said "I" twice in first two lines, so it is not as if any reader will be wondering "who is he talking about?". So in terms of content it is not doing anything anyway.

Just a thought.
Ant.
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Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
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Re: The New Life

Post by ray miller » Tue Nov 29, 2011 3:04 pm

Enjoyed most of this, some of it is lovely, some not so good. Battersea/ flat as he is a terrific rhyme. I found the 2nd half of the opening verse hard going - the 5th line's too long and "previous unprofitable year" is a bit dry.
I liked these lines

with incantations as long and lovely as your legs,
and more intricately patterned and profound

than the river I'd just traversed.

as Geoff mentioned, there's an awful lot of "and" in that 2nd verse.
Ends nicely, especially last 2 lines, Narnia, any postal code etc.
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I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: The New Life

Post by OwenEdwards » Fri Dec 16, 2011 2:39 pm

Enjoyed the rhyme throughout, enjoyed the theme, especially enjoyed the ending (though it reminded me of "High Windows"...).

Bravo!

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