Encyclopaedia - Volume 5: The Natural World

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Basnik
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Encyclopaedia - Volume 5: The Natural World

Post by Basnik » Thu Sep 17, 2015 8:44 pm

Each week mum would put a bit by -
for life assurance, the Christmas Club
and, of course, the encyclopaedias:
ten volumes bound in faux red leather.

It was the start of it all, an education.
I liked the solar system,
myths and legends, and animals,
especially the insects.

There were clear acetate sheets
that took you further, as you turned,
into the organs of a giant bee,
until you reached its three-part essence.

Such brimming colours and the words -
some I knew: antennae, sting,
but others were new: thorax, glossa,
its ganglia of nerves for a brain.

Perhaps I studied too long:
too impressed with knowing labels.
Intricate knowledge, precise definitions,
they give you a sense of mastery

but not empathy. I could anatomise
the hive, draw figure eight dances;
my daughter knows through wiggling,
thanks them one-by-one for the honey.
Last edited by Basnik on Sun Sep 20, 2015 11:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
bez prace, nejsou kolaci - without work, there are no cakes (Czech proverb)

ray miller
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Re: Encyclopaedia - Volume 5: The Natural World

Post by ray miller » Fri Sep 18, 2015 10:14 am

Lovely poem, Rich. The end is worth the wait. The only thing I'd point out is this

Perhaps I stopped too soon .....

Given what follows the narrator could have supposed, with equal, if not more justification, that perhaps he carried on too long.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

David
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Re: Encyclopaedia - Volume 5: The Natural World

Post by David » Fri Sep 18, 2015 10:21 am

Hi Rich, it is a lovely poem. Somehow I want a "the" in front of Christmas Club, and S2 seems a little bland. I know it's just a setting-up verse, but I'd like a bit more detail.
ray miller wrote:The only thing I'd point out is this

Perhaps I stopped too soon .....

Given what follows the narrator could have supposed, with equal, if not more justification, that perhaps he carried on too long.
Good point, I'm afraid!

Cheers

David

Moth
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Re: Encyclopaedia - Volume 5: The Natural World

Post by Moth » Fri Sep 18, 2015 11:23 pm

This is great - immediately identifiable especially those faux leather-bound volumes which I remember so well from my childhood and from there on in both the narrative and the message struck a number of chords, though it was more parental pressure with me than any determination on my part to learn about the text-book 'natural world', the one the little girl leans to at the end being more in keeping with the child I wanted to be than the studious academic my mother dreamed of and the too-long-sheltered and socially awkward child I was (perhaps) as a result. Still, nature will out! So, I suppose because the poem confirms what I've long since thought, that while books play an important part in a child's development, they are by no means the be all and end all, this is a work which not only do I rate pretty highly, but will probably refer to at some point in conversations with my children of various ages.

'Stopped too soon' didn't jump out at me, in fact, in context it makes a lot of sense - learning continues past academia after all, which I feel is what the line conveys.
What did bother me slightly however was the close repetition of bee - especially bees/giant bee. I thought 'insects' would suffice in the first line as it doesn't alter the message, though if taken from life may, of course, alter the fact. Also the but in the penultimate line doesn't quite work for me, though I do see why you've included it. My daughter knows these through wriggling, perhaps - to imply both the bees and the dances, which essentially is the dance of life, the 'knowing' in itself learned a different way would still be clear.
to be totally honest... whenever you feel you really shouldn't write that, that's exactly what you should write.

Basnik
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Re: Encyclopaedia - Volume 5: The Natural World

Post by Basnik » Sun Sep 20, 2015 11:33 am

Thank you for all your comments - very useful. Glad you like it.

Ray, good point - I think you're right: it was the over analysis that lead to the loss of my daughter's natural empathy so your point make good sense. David, I think a 'the' would work as well so will put in.

Moth, thank you for the kind words. I think the repetition of bee is a flaw and insects seem the perfect way out. The 'but' was a late inclusion - I think you're right that the contrast would still be clear and it is overdone with 'but'

I've put the edits in.

Cheers all,
Richard
bez prace, nejsou kolaci - without work, there are no cakes (Czech proverb)

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