Farther Than it Looks

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Farther Than it Looks

Post by 68degrees » Sat Dec 24, 2016 4:24 pm

Dorothy lives alone
in the green house
down the street,
a wishing well
within a stone’s throw.

Three butterfly wind chimes
hang in front of her bay window.

She has been a widow
for thirteen years.

I stop to converse with her
on this summer evening
“Everything I own is free,”
she tells me.

I nod an acknowledgement
to this dash of conversation;
nothing else needs to be said.

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Re: Farther Than it Looks

Post by Suzanne » Tue Dec 27, 2016 8:03 am

Hi,

I am very fond of brevity. for me, it is admirable to have the ability to stimulate the reader's imagination with so few words.
The poem, though, seems to have a rock in its shoe as it has been read but no clear comments made, yet? Maybe?

I read it is either about feeling death on the horizon, which can cause a person ( like a widow with butterfly wind chimes, probably watching birds, too) to give away their belongings for free

OR it is about the N wanting the companionship of Dorthy, who has made it clear that she is giving it away for free.

Title says something is farther than it looks but is it the prize of Dorthy or death?

The hardest part about admitting that I am unsure what the poem is about is that the N states: nothing more needs to be said.

I am thinking that a word, one word could make this flow smoothly in one direction of another. A different title? I don't know.

I hope this was helpful.
Suzanne

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Re: Farther Than it Looks

Post by 68degrees » Tue Dec 27, 2016 10:06 pm

Suzanne wrote:Hi,

I am very fond of brevity. for me, it is admirable to have the ability to stimulate the reader's imagination with so few words.
The poem, though, seems to have a rock in its shoe as it has been read but no clear comments made, yet? Maybe?

I read it is either about feeling death on the horizon, which can cause a person ( like a widow with butterfly wind chimes, probably watching birds, too) to give away their belongings for free

OR it is about the N wanting the companionship of Dorthy, who has made it clear that she is giving it away for free.

Title says something is farther than it looks but is it the prize of Dorthy or death?

The hardest part about admitting that I am unsure what the poem is about is that the N states: nothing more needs to be said.

I am thinking that a word, one word could make this flow smoothly in one direction of another. A different title? I don't know.

I hope this was helpful.
Suzanne
Responses are always helpful. No comments, clear or otherwise, are not ;) Thanks for yours.

Will look at adding that one word OR possible title change you are looking for.

One thing I feel compelled to say: "free" has many meanings. You have assumed that Dorothy is giving her possessions away for free (that is, if I am reading your interpretation correctly b/c I'm not sure how you came to that conclusion). There are others, and you did mention "companionship"...but, still...that yearning to know true meaning often baffles me. I mean, how often do we really know our neighbors?

Again, thanks for your thoughts here. Appreciate it.

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Re: Farther Than it Looks

Post by Suzanne » Wed Dec 28, 2016 5:32 am

Yes, no comments at all says something.

And other meanings to " free" also crossed my mind. I said dying because I have an experience of a woman saying that often before she died. We readers understand through our experiences, of course. Same with companionship.

To be lead into a more specific conclusion, the poet has to leave specific crumbs for us to follow.

What is "it" in the title? We ask ourselves.

(For me, truly knowing my neighbors is less important as enjoying the moments when we're together. Sometimes neighbors can become friends, sometime not. )

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Re: Farther Than it Looks

Post by 68degrees » Wed Dec 28, 2016 6:16 pm

Suzanne wrote:(For me, truly knowing my neighbors is less important as enjoying the moments when we're together. Sometimes neighbors can become friends, sometime not. )
I agree about the pebble in the shoe, but isn't this what the poem really is? A few moments with a neighbor that I may know a little about, but not a lot....I've known Dorothy for years (1988), but again, do I "really" know her? I've tried to show that in what I do know about her. Let's face it, there are things I will never know. Of those, I don't want, nor care, to guess.

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Re: Farther Than it Looks

Post by Ros » Thu Dec 29, 2016 10:54 am

To me this is a bit of a puzzle, though I like it. I can't work out the meaning of the title (except possibly she is more alone than it even appears?). And I'm puzzled by “Everything I own is free,”, which would appear to be a contradiction (owned things are not 'free'), or just puzzling - how could she acquire all the things without somehow paying for them?

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Re: Farther Than it Looks

Post by JJWilliamson » Thu Dec 29, 2016 6:27 pm

I suppose the puzzle is within the puzzle. The wind for the wind chimes is free, so is the sun that causes the heat that drives the winds.
The air we breathe, sky, stars, the colour of flowers and trees etc are free in a way. We collectively own them as an experience rather than
as physical/tangible possessions. Perhaps the lady sets no store by "stuff" and has no interest in acquiring it, whatever 'it' is.

Enjoyed the read

Best

JJ
Long time a child and still a child

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Re: Farther Than it Looks

Post by 68degrees » Thu Dec 29, 2016 9:29 pm

Ros wrote:To me this is a bit of a puzzle, though I like it. I can't work out the meaning of the title (except possibly she is more alone than it even appears?). And I'm puzzled by “Everything I own is free,”, which would appear to be a contradiction (owned things are not 'free'), or just puzzling - how could she acquire all the things without somehow paying for them?

Ros
"Everything I own is free" An actual quote from Dorothy to me in a passing conversation. She was fiddling w/her flowers (I love flowers) and I was walking by. Somehow Clarence was mentioned (Dorothy's deceased husband) and she said it. It wasn't prompted, nor accompanied. It just came out.

I would say to you what I said to Suzanne...."free" has many meanings. Okay to pick one and run w/it but I love puzzles. It's what theory is based on. I write theater and this line is going into my next write. Somewhere.

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Re: Farther Than it Looks

Post by 68degrees » Thu Dec 29, 2016 9:31 pm

JJWilliamson wrote:I suppose the puzzle is within the puzzle. The wind for the wind chimes is free, so is the sun that causes the heat that drives the winds.
The air we breathe, sky, stars, the colour of flowers and trees etc are free in a way. We collectively own them as an experience rather than
as physical/tangible possessions. Perhaps the lady sets no store by "stuff" and has no interest in acquiring it, whatever 'it' is.

Enjoyed the read

Best

JJ
The best things in life are free. Or so I've heard. Some folks might know what they are. Some don't have a clue. Why should an "it" be any different? Dorothy seemed to know what she was saying.

Thanks for your thoughts.

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Re: Farther Than it Looks

Post by Suzanne » Fri Dec 30, 2016 8:59 am

We understood what Dorothy was saying and assumed, unless she's mad, that it had meaning to her.

It is the poet's meaning we are not understanding.
And the title. But I have gathered, from your replies, the desire was to leave the reader puzzled about the meaning of the poem.

Which implies our comments about being puzzled was the feedback you were looking for. When, perhaps, the replies were given to help you clarify and tighten the poem in order connect with the reader better. Which would unpuzzle them.

OK. That was an insightful thread.
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Re: Farther Than it Looks

Post by 68degrees » Fri Dec 30, 2016 8:42 pm

Suzanne wrote:We understood what Dorothy was saying and assumed, unless she's mad, that it had meaning to her.

It is the poet's meaning we are not understanding.
And the title. But I have gathered, from your replies, the desire was to leave the reader puzzled about the meaning of the poem.

Which implies our comments about being puzzled was the feedback you were looking for. When, perhaps, the replies were given to help you clarify and tighten the poem in order connect with the reader better. Which would unpuzzle them.

OK. That was an insightful thread.
Suzanne
dictionary.com lists 49 different meanings for "free"...I don't have a clue which one she meant. I'm not sure the poem is meant to be understood. If everyone left puzzled, I'm okay with that. A couple enjoyed and/or liked reading it.

I often leave a museum with a quizzical thought after viewing a painting or sculpture. Why should a poem be any different.

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Re: Farther Than it Looks

Post by Xillus_Xavier » Fri Dec 30, 2016 11:47 pm

You stated this is based on an actual interaction with Dorothy. Regarding the declaration made by Dorothy containing the word "free," you also stated, "I don't have a clue which one <meaning> she meant." If that's the case, your final stanza does not work. You've written that stanza as if you did understand what she meant by that declaration. If not, why else would you nod and say, "nothing else needs to be said"? That final line seems to indicate to readers two things:
1. You, the narrator, understood Dorothy...as if she had uttered some poignant truth.
2. The reader should understand Dorothy as well, considering the final line suggests that further questioning Dorothy on her meaning is unnecessary.

You also stated, "I'm not sure the poem is meant to be understood." This perspective also contradicts the final stanza. If you, the composure and narrator of the poem, do not understand the meaning behind Dorothy's comment, and the reader is left to think it over and try and figure it out for themselves, doesn't that mean that more needs to be said? The very fact that a reader may need to contemplate or discuss this issue contradicts the gist of the finale.

I'm completely fine with having vagueness as part of a poem, but attaching it to a line that presents a vibe of self-evidence may not work for some readers. You also said that you have no qualms about leaving readers clueless, and that's your prerogative. But if this is published, readers will not see your comments here that you didn't even understand Dorothy, therefore will take the final line to mean that you did, and therefore will be left wondering why they don't "get it" like you did.

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Re: Farther Than it Looks

Post by 68degrees » Sat Dec 31, 2016 1:18 am

Xillus_Xavier wrote:You stated this is based on an actual interaction with Dorothy. Regarding the declaration made by Dorothy containing the word "free," you also stated, "I don't have a clue which one <meaning> she meant." If that's the case, your final stanza does not work. You've written that stanza as if you did understand what she meant by that declaration. If not, why else would you nod and say, "nothing else needs to be said"? That final line seems to indicate to readers two things:
1. You, the narrator, understood Dorothy...as if she had uttered some poignant truth.
2. The reader should understand Dorothy as well, considering the final line suggests that further questioning Dorothy on her meaning is unnecessary.

You also stated, "I'm not sure the poem is meant to be understood." This perspective also contradicts the final stanza. If you, the composure and narrator of the poem, do not understand the meaning behind Dorothy's comment, and the reader is left to think it over and try and figure it out for themselves, doesn't that mean that more needs to be said? The very fact that a reader may need to contemplate or discuss this issue contradicts the gist of the finale.

I'm completely fine with having vagueness as part of a poem, but attaching it to a line that presents a vibe of self-evidence may not work for some readers. You also said that you have no qualms about leaving readers clueless, and that's your prerogative. But if this is published, readers will not see your comments here that you didn't even understand Dorothy, therefore will take the final line to mean that you did, and therefore will be left wondering why they don't "get it" like you did.
If you have all this figured out, hell, you don't need me ;)

And as much as I appreciate your thoughts here, and I do, I have to say this: if (and a big IF it is) this is published, why would I worry about any of what you're saying?

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Re: Farther Than it Looks

Post by Xillus_Xavier » Sat Dec 31, 2016 4:00 am

I'm not suggesting that you will worry about it, regardless if this gets published or not. Just pointing out something that I consider a logical flaw.

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Re: Farther Than it Looks

Post by Suzanne » Sat Dec 31, 2016 5:59 am

You asked: Why should a poem be any different?

Well, a poem hanging in a museum or published in an equivalent honor, maybe should, or shouldn't but this poem is not that.

This poem was posted in a Writer's Workshop, in the experienced section which assumes you wanted critical feedback to work on it.

I think we are all well aware of what poetry is and that "good" poems can leave a reader with questions. But we are not talking about poetry and "good" poems.

The thread is about this poem. And you got good feedback. You like it just the way it is and don't want to make it clearer.

My opinion is it is too unclear to leave any impact on the reader. It's watching two people pass on the street, exchange words, and move on. Reader seen, moment gone, reader puzzled. That's enough for you and I think that is a fine choice. The world is richer because of our diverse expressions.

As a writer, you enjoy leaving things vague. OK. I will remember when critiquing you in the future.


Suzanne

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Re: Farther Than it Looks

Post by 68degrees » Sat Dec 31, 2016 3:45 pm

Suzanne wrote:You asked: Why should a poem be any different?

Well, a poem hanging in a museum or published in an equivalent honor, maybe should, or shouldn't but this poem is not that.

This poem was posted in a Writer's Workshop, in the experienced section which assumes you wanted critical feedback to work on it.

I think we are all well aware of what poetry is and that "good" poems can leave a reader with questions. But we are not talking about poetry and "good" poems.

The thread is about this poem. And you got good feedback. You like it just the way it is and don't want to make it clearer.

My opinion is it is too unclear to leave any impact on the reader. It's watching two people pass on the street, exchange words, and move on. Reader seen, moment gone, reader puzzled. That's enough for you and I think that is a fine choice. The world is richer because of our diverse expressions.

As a writer, you enjoy leaving things vague. OK. I will remember when critiquing you in the future.


Suzanne
I agree that I enjoy leaving interpretation open to different POV's. And what I'm hearing is that this poem needs a change of title or some kind of addition of one word to release the stone in its shoe. I am perfectly willing and open to something here but I need some time to think about it. Automatically diving into a rewrite of a poem within 24 hours without letting certain suggestions sink in is unrealistic for my brain.

To shrink my poetics down to "Reader seen, moment gone, reader puzzled. That's enough for you and I think that is a fine choice" is rude b/c that's not who I am. I will remember this if receiving any critiquing from you in the future. I will surely think about my response before actually typing one.

I wish sincerely you hadn't PM'd me and let me find my way here a bit before trying to cozy up. You seem to be a prolific poster of both your stuff and critiques of others and that is one of your strengths. It is not mine.

I thank you for your time.

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Re: Farther Than it Looks

Post by Suzanne » Sat Dec 31, 2016 5:07 pm

I apologize if it came across rude. It was not my intention. I honestly believe it is good to have diversity here.

I equated your preference to those who have a preference for minimalism.

Saying I will remember when I critique next time was meant to be supportive of your preference because the understanding would be helpful in the future.

I apologize for coming across rude. Sorry.
Suzanne

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