Sea Clouties

This is a serious poetry forum not a "love-in". Post here for more detailed, constructive criticism.
Post Reply
Nash

Sea Clouties

Post by Nash » Mon Jul 15, 2013 9:15 pm

~


She wears him thin,
exposes contours of bones.
Each irascible turn
revealing the true nature of grain
as rough edges become round.

Rocks tumble to gemstones
encaged by intercostal gaps.
She rusts him to vibrancy;
spatters the revetment dullness
with the brightness of sand.

And when she’s done
she will hang clouties from his ribs -
stolen fragments; coloured cords;
wishes made of rags and sea-hooks.




~

brianedwards
Perspicacious Poster
Perspicacious Poster
Posts: 5375
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2008 7:35 am
antispam: no
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Sea Clouties

Post by brianedwards » Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:57 am

Some lovely language here Nash, and the last image is fine, but I just can't get past the personifications, especially (if my read isn't off) the "sea as mistress" trope.

B.

BenJohnson
Preternatural Poster
Preternatural Poster
Posts: 1701
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 10:32 am
antispam: no
Location: New Forest, UK
Contact:

Re: Sea Clouties

Post by BenJohnson » Tue Jul 16, 2013 9:36 am

I love the poem, especially the last verse. I'm still not sure what is being described. My first thought was groynes, my second was a boat, my third I am working on. I don't feel the title is doing enough work, lovely sound to it but maybe it needs to guide (or ground) the reader a little more.

Suzanne
Perspicacious Poster
Perspicacious Poster
Posts: 4898
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 4:46 pm
antispam: no
Location: Land of the Midnight Sun

Re: Sea Clouties

Post by Suzanne » Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:10 am

Hi Nash!
I like the feel it brings with its pacing and line breaks. It feels like waves. Well done with that.
Live the first lines best. Comfortable with a she wearing down a he but cant figure out what the he is. Personifying the sea as she is easy to imagine but what is the he? I'd like that more specific.

Enjoyed it as i'm thinking of the sea everyday.
Suzanne

User avatar
twoleftfeet
Perspicacious Poster
Perspicacious Poster
Posts: 6761
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2005 4:02 pm
Location: Standing by a short pier, looking for a long run-up

Re: Sea Clouties

Post by twoleftfeet » Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:36 am

Beautifully done, Nash - especially (as Brian says) the last stanza.

It's as if the sea is casting a spell on the coastline like a woman might leave clouties on the branches of a tree to rot away in order to get rid of an ailment. However the furtiveness of "stolen" maybe suggests that the sea magic is malevolent in this case - like getting rid of an unwanted lover (said he, speculating wildly).
Instead of just sitting on the fence - why not stand in the middle of the road?

Antcliff
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 6599
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 1:35 am
Location: At the end of stanza 3

Re: Sea Clouties

Post by Antcliff » Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:23 pm

Hmm. Intriguing. Possibly a boat..even barge..but it could be a structure connected with a jetty or a pier.

We have grains (wood?), rust (metal), once larger (thinning) with some sort of now exposed internal structure (bones/ribs).

If only I could figure out why something is irascible...then I might know.

"Each irascible turn.."


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

Nash

Re: Sea Clouties

Post by Nash » Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:48 pm

Oh dear, this is starting to seem a lot like the other coastal based poem of mine:

viewtopic.php?f=44&t=16414&hilit=holkham#p132070

I think we're all roughly on the same page though, the sea's effect on a coastal structure. It's pretty much a descriptive piece of a knackered old revetment sea defence, just a few miles down the coast from that last post in the other poem actually. With the personifications of him and her hopefully forming a loose metaphor for a damaged relationship.

I'm wondering how much it matters if the reader doesn't know exactly what the structure is? Personally I don't mind a bit of a mystery when reading a poem.

I could perhaps allude to the sea defence in the title (as Brian helpfully suggested in the other poem). Mrs Nash jokingly suggested "Garland my groin with clouties"!!

Thanks very much all,

Nash.

David2
Prolific Poster
Prolific Poster
Posts: 499
Joined: Thu Feb 14, 2013 7:54 pm

Re: Sea Clouties

Post by David2 » Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:51 pm

I had to look up clouties. Very interesting. All part of the repaganizing of Britain.

It's an extended conceit, isn't it? And extended very well.
Nash wrote:I'm wondering how much it matters if the reader doesn't know exactly what the structure is? Personally I don't mind a bit of a mystery when reading a poem.
I agree with that. It's the pretext for a bravura display. Bravo! But is it meant to be a sort of sonnet? 14 lines being necessary but not sufficient, and all that.

In re the sea as mistress (or, more accurately, as god of love), have I already directed your attention - or do you already know - this fine thing?

http://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/milt ... efifth.htm

Cheers

David

brianedwards
Perspicacious Poster
Perspicacious Poster
Posts: 5375
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2008 7:35 am
antispam: no
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Sea Clouties

Post by brianedwards » Wed Jul 17, 2013 1:50 am

Nash wrote: With the personifications of him and her hopefully forming a loose metaphor for a damaged relationship.

I'm wondering how much it matters if the reader doesn't know exactly what the structure is? Personally I don't mind a bit of a mystery when reading a poem.
Yes, I got that Nash. I'm clearly in the minority so probably safe to ignore, but it just felt a little, err, lazy, casting the sea as the woman. Perhaps if the roles were reversed? Just a thought.

B.

Antcliff
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 6599
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 1:35 am
Location: At the end of stanza 3

Re: Sea Clouties

Post by Antcliff » Wed Jul 17, 2013 2:00 pm

Nash wrote:I'm wondering how much it matters if the reader doesn't know exactly what the structure is? Personally I don't mind a bit of a mystery when reading a poem.
I don't mind a bit of mystery, but...to answer the "how much" question....I think it might matter to a degree here even if some mystery is okay. A possible reason. The poem is called "Sea Clouties" and at the end the clouties are left hanging on "ribs". The residual haziness about the identity of the thing leaves me with a less vivid sense of this big scene. Just thought I'd mention..

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

Ros
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 7961
Joined: Sun Dec 07, 2008 4:53 pm
antispam: no
Location: this hill-shadowed city/of razors and knives.
Contact:

Re: Sea Clouties

Post by Ros » Wed Jul 17, 2013 7:16 pm

I'm aware of 'clout' as an ancient word for clothing, but not clouties. So I was a bit hazy about that. I like the last verse very much but not sure the rest is working so well for me - possibly I'm seeing too much double-entendre in phrases such as 'She rusts him to vibrancy;' and I confess 'revetment dullness' meant nothing to me (except the vaguely confusing idea of vestments). Not sure why v1 is split into two sentences, leaving the second half as a fragment.

Possibly much of this is just me having a problem with it all, but I thought it worth mentioning.

Ros
Rosencrantz: What are you playing at? Guildenstern: Words. Words. They're all we have to go on.
___________________________
Antiphon - www.antiphon.org.uk

Nash

Re: Sea Clouties

Post by Nash » Wed Jul 17, 2013 7:50 pm

brianedwards wrote:Yes, I got that Nash. I'm clearly in the minority so probably safe to ignore, but it just felt a little, err, lazy, casting the sea as the woman. Perhaps if the roles were reversed? Just a thought.
It's a fair comment, Brian, and something I'm willing to consider. Funny, when the genders are swapped I think it becomes very different, much darker, almost distastful? Interesting that.



He wears her thin,
exposes contours of bones.
Each irascible turn
revealing the true nature of grain
as rough edges become round.

Rocks tumble to gemstones
encaged by intercostal gaps.
He rusts her to vibrancy;
spatters the revetment dullness
with the brightness of sand.

And when he’s done
he will hang clouties from her ribs -
stolen fragments; coloured cords;
wishes made of rags and sea-hooks.




Thanks very much, David. I hadn't considered it a sonnet, the 14 lines was purely by chance, it just worked out that way. I wonder if that's a hindrance? Will people expect it to be a sonnet and pick fault with it for not being a very good one? Thanks for the link to Milton, now that is a good one!

Thanks for that, Seth. I'm becoming less enamoured with the title, I might well try and think of a more explanatory one.

Thanks, Ros. Yes, cloth, clout and clouties all have the same root. Clouties were specifically strips of cloth taken from an injured or diseased part of the body and strung up in a tree near a healing well, sympathetic magic and all that. By extension they became tokens left as wishes. Sorry that much of it is leaving you cold but thanks for your honesty, it's always good to know these things.

Cheers all,
Nash.

ray miller
Perspicacious Poster
Perspicacious Poster
Posts: 6535
Joined: Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:23 am

Re: Sea Clouties

Post by ray miller » Thu Jul 18, 2013 7:08 pm

Nice poem. I like the last verse, though "And when she's done" - when would the sea ever be done?
She rusts him to vibrancy - nice line. I'd have preferred "exposing" and "reveals" and "rounded".
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

dedalus
Preternatural Poster
Preternatural Poster
Posts: 1933
Joined: Sat Sep 02, 2006 3:51 am
Location: Ireland/Japan

Re: Sea Clouties

Post by dedalus » Fri Jul 19, 2013 5:23 am

Arresting language, suggesting a great deal more than what's actually delivered.

BenJohnson
Preternatural Poster
Preternatural Poster
Posts: 1701
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 10:32 am
antispam: no
Location: New Forest, UK
Contact:

Re: Sea Clouties

Post by BenJohnson » Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:32 am

Interesting the change from 'she' to 'he'. The original last verse feels playful, whimsical and dark in light sort of way. The last verse of the second verse feels more violent and as you say much darker. Is it just because it is a male protagonist? Or it is a male who is doing things like decorating bones which a male might not be expected to do? The role of fairies and witches.

Arian
Perspicacious Poster
Perspicacious Poster
Posts: 2718
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 8:41 am
antispam: no
Location: Hertfordshire, UK

Re: Sea Clouties

Post by Arian » Fri Jul 19, 2013 7:24 pm

Well, I confess that I only made 'sense' of some aspects of it after reading the thread, which I guess the general reader won't have as a guide.

But I'm not sure that that matters. I enjoyed it a lot on the level of language and rhythm.

Cheers
peter

brianedwards
Perspicacious Poster
Perspicacious Poster
Posts: 5375
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2008 7:35 am
antispam: no
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: Sea Clouties

Post by brianedwards » Fri Jul 19, 2013 11:21 pm

I'm surprised some readers are struggling with the sense of this poem. The specific object involved may not be obvious but the idea of the sea wearing something down is very clear I think. Isn't that enough? I ask this to invite discussion.

B.

Macavity
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 6108
Joined: Tue May 10, 2005 10:29 am

Re: Sea Clouties

Post by Macavity » Sat Jul 20, 2013 4:42 am

spatters the revetment dullness
with the brightness of sand.
Lovely use of language Nash, encapsulating ugliness and the sheen of beauty. At first I was a little bothered by 'contours of bone' and particularly 'nature of grain' as opposed to just saying bone/grain. The phrasing bothered me less on re-reads. For me this is landscape poetry, the human dimension giving some additional 'vibrancy'.

enjoyed

mac

Nash

Re: Sea Clouties

Post by Nash » Sat Jul 20, 2013 10:20 am

Thanks very much indeed, Ray, Bren, Ben, Peter, Brian and Mac.
ray miller wrote:I'd have preferred "exposing" and "reveals" and "rounded".
Damn, I had it like that in an earlier draft. I'll consider reverting.
BenJohnson wrote:Interesting the change from 'she' to 'he'. The original last verse feels playful, whimsical and dark in light sort of way. The last verse of the second verse feels more violent and as you say much darker. Is it just because it is a male protagonist? Or it is a male who is doing things like decorating bones which a male might not be expected to do? The role of fairies and witches.
Weird that, isn't it? It surprised me just how much it changed the poem. Your latter point is one I hadn't considered, the 'decorating' aspect perhaps gives it a serial-killer style edge? I don't think I'm comfortable with that, at least not for this one.
brianedwards wrote:I'm surprised some readers are struggling with the sense of this poem. The specific object involved may not be obvious but the idea of the sea wearing something down is very clear I think. Isn't that enough? I ask this to invite discussion.
I suppose we all have our points of reference that we work from when reading. To be honest, there are many, many poems where I have no idea what's going on whereas others seem to find them pretty straightforward. Does that spoil my enjoyment of them? Not always. One of my favourite collections at the moment is Shaler's Fish by Helen MacDonald. It was generally well received on release but some accused her of being wilfully obscure because of her 'modernist' approach. Obscurity works best for me, as a reader, when it hints at things and allows those things to just flirt with your understanding without becoming fully lucid.

Cheers all,
Nash.

BenJohnson
Preternatural Poster
Preternatural Poster
Posts: 1701
Joined: Wed Nov 12, 2008 10:32 am
antispam: no
Location: New Forest, UK
Contact:

Re: Sea Clouties

Post by BenJohnson » Sat Jul 20, 2013 12:05 pm

It was generally well received on release but some accused her of being wilfully obscure because of her 'modernist' approach. Obscurity works best for me, as a reader, when it hints at things and allows those things to just flirt with your understanding without becoming fully lucid.
Fully agree.

Post Reply