Eden Valley

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barrie
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Eden Valley

Post by barrie » Thu Dec 18, 2008 12:04 pm

Solstice moon
swoops low
on barn owl wings.

Frost drifts down ,
a silver silence
numbs the land.

The Pleiades
lie light-years below
the surface of a dark tarn.

A gnarled crab-apple tree
clings to an outcrop,
waiting for Eve's Serpent.

I'll moor my boat
to the Well Rope Star:
drink with the barbarians.

---------

original V4

Clinging to an outcrop
a gnarled crab-apple tree
waits for Eve and her Serpent.

'Eve and her Serpent' replaced by 'Eve's Serpent'
After letting go of branches and walking through the ape gait, we managed to grasp what hands were really for......

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Re: Eden Valley

Post by bobvincent » Thu Dec 18, 2008 3:19 pm

I like the imagery in this. I'm not sure what the ending implies, though. Perhaps "screech-owl" would add an extra frisson instead of the neutral "barn owl" in the first stanza?

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Re: Eden Valley

Post by Sharra » Thu Dec 18, 2008 4:43 pm

I too liked the imagery in this, and the wonderful feeling of quiet you create. You've also created a great sense of depth to the valley. I especially loved the moon swooping on barn owl wings.
I think the only little niggle for me is the 4th stanza, the sequence of the lines is different to the previous stanzas. In the previous 3 you have the object in the first line; for me changing that sequence interrupted the flow a little.
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Re: Eden Valley

Post by Lake » Thu Dec 18, 2008 5:11 pm

Barrie,

The whole feel is oriental with a classical Chinese touch. But the wordings in the poem are a mix of East and West with a lot of references or allusions? I like the ending, it adds the persona's colour to the quiet natural background and shows the character's bold and unconstrained characteristics.

As for Sharra's suggestion, maybe just switch the first two lines in S4?

Great read.

Lake

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Re: Eden Valley

Post by ray miller » Thu Dec 18, 2008 5:48 pm

Evocative, but of what? It reminded me of seeing things through childlike, innocent eyes, a Before The Fall world free of context and concept.Except, I don't quite understand where the barbarians fit in. It does have a silent, frosty feel, doesn't it? Delicate and beautiful.
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I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: Eden Valley

Post by bobvincent » Thu Dec 18, 2008 5:56 pm

Is this inspired by some cold weather-blasted northern landscape in Cumbria, where there is an Eden river valley? The title suggests a wholesomeness which the poem nicely counteracts.

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Re: Eden Valley

Post by Ros » Thu Dec 18, 2008 7:23 pm

Just to be awkward, I thought that

Solstice moon
swoops low
on barn owl wings.

was the bit that worked least well, since I had a job imagining the moon moving fast enough to sweep anywhere, or to think of it with wings.

I preferred the later parts, from The Pleiades onwards. Great stuff. What star is the Well Rope star? I really liked the feel of that last verse, the idea of the boat moving on moon-lit waters.
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Re: Eden Valley

Post by barrie » Thu Dec 18, 2008 8:35 pm

Thanks Bob - I used 'barn owl' for its whiteness and its moonlike face. It is loosely based on the Eden Valley in Cumbria,.

Thanks Sharra - You may be right about verse three, in fact I think you are - I'll switch it around.

Thanks Lake - Glad you liked it - The last verse was a reference to Tu Fu's poem, 'Autumn Wastes'

Thanks Ray - 'The barbarians' is a slight dig at the people to the north of Kendal - Ullswater way. The idea came from a line of Tu Fu's - see my reply to Ros.

Thanks Ros - The first verse was linking the owl and the moon. Have you seen a barn owl coming towards you at dusk, it's like the moon on wings, and just as quiet. The Well Rope Star verse is a reference to Tu Fu's poem 'Autumn Wastes' -

I have tied my boat to the Well Rope Star of barbarians,

Thanks again everyone

Barrie
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Re: Eden Valley

Post by David » Thu Dec 18, 2008 8:40 pm

A really nice wintry Lakes poem. You had me thinking that the Well Rope Star was the name of the pub. Unlikely, I suppose, but I'd like to visit a pub called that.

Cheers

David

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Re: Eden Valley

Post by Ros » Thu Dec 18, 2008 9:50 pm

Interesting, Barrie. The only reference to that particular poem I can find is a youtube video. You don't happen to know where I can find it on the web, do you?

No, I've never seen a barn owl at dusk. It sounds wonderful.
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Re: Eden Valley

Post by Lake » Fri Dec 19, 2008 1:59 am

David wrote:A really nice wintry Lakes poem.
David,

I'd say, a really nice wintry Moontarn poem.

Solstice moon
the surface of a dark tarn


:)

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Re: Eden Valley

Post by barrie » Sat Dec 20, 2008 10:17 am

Thanks David - What a belting name for a pub - The Well Rope Star, I never thought of that.

Ros, the poem was in a book I had called Poems of the Late T'ang, it was a Penguin book but I can't remember who the translator was. Like a lot of my books, it's been lent and not returned.

Cheers Lake.

Barrie
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Re: Eden Valley

Post by R. Broath » Sat Dec 20, 2008 7:03 pm

Nothing but praise for this, barrie. I like its tone and its understatement. Clear as a frosty night and that's not as easily captured as you've made it appear. Spoiled for choice in choosing a favourite line but were I pushed it would have to be this;

'I'll moor my boat
to the Well Rope Star;'

Spoken aloud (even in my accent) this is just lovely. Something in the proximity of 'boat' 'Rope' and 'Star' just lifts this into the sort of line I wish I'd written.

A super read.

Jimmy

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Re: Eden Valley

Post by Danté » Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:20 am

Barrie

For me this captures an essence of this time of year which is in harmony with my own ideas
regarding renewal.
The winter solstice, and the tree, Eve, although you have used the character in a different way to
my intitial perception, which was the eve of an event or time.
The serpent is symbolic and fits well, as do barbarians.
Your rhymes are as always very well placed, and the poem is ordered without stilting an openness to
individual interpretation.

Thanks for a lovely read

Tim
to anticipate touching what is unseen seems far more interesting than seeing what the hand can not touch

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Re: Eden Valley

Post by dedalus » Sun Dec 21, 2008 4:13 pm

barrie ... you seem to moving on to a different level of writing and I'm not too sure where you're going with it; there is a sparse sort of bleakness involved, which I admire, but hidden beneath that are a few jumps of intuition that replace the things you see with personification. The overall tone and intent comes through, which is the main thing, but ...

Solstice moon
swoops low
on barn owl wings.

The moon does its thing but it never swoops anywhere on wings or any other travelling device. You said in one of your replies to a comment: The first verse was linking the owl and the moon. Have you seen a barn owl coming towards you at dusk, it's like the moon on wings, and just as quiet. Understood.
The barn owl
like the moon on wings
swoops (in) low

would have been more accurate, perhaps, but doesn't come across as well as the original, does it?

Frost drifts down ,
a silver silence
numbs the land.

(precise and rather beautiful)

The Pleiades
lie light-years below
the surface of a dark tarn.

The stars must be reflected, what else could they be (?) but why "light-years" (incalculable dollops of time) below the tarn (measurable depth)? Again, it's easy to see where you are going and suspend disbelief. It breaks the flow even to mention it, but, but ... upon reflection -- ouch! -- it doesn't really make much sense.

A gnarled crab-apple tree
clings to an outcrop,
waiting for Eve and her Serpent.

(nice touch, but could be a long wait)

I'll moor my boat
to the Well Rope Star:
drink with the barbarians.

Du Fu hated, despised and feared barbarians -- this comes through clearly in a half-dozen or more of his poems -- and he was hardly likely to meet, greet or drink with them. But that's just a niggly wee point and can be easily brushed away. It could be you that wants to drink with them, not Du Fu. His only recorded reference to a Well Rope Star is the following:

The autumn wastes are each day wilder:
Cold in the river the blue sky stirs.
I have tied my rope to the Well Rope Star of the barbarians,
sited my house in a village of Chu.
Though the dates are ripe let others cut them down,
I'll hoe for myself where the mallows run to seed.

All these minor quibbles aside I thought it was an excellent poem, barrie, well up to your usual high standards, and as I mentioned above you seem to be moving on to a meaner leaner form of expression. But you did take a few liberties along the way, and I'm gently calling you on them.

To finish on a lighter note, here's another poem from our old pal Du Fu:

原文 79

Oh, but it is high and very dangerous!
Such travelling is harder than scaling the blue sky.
Until two rulers of this region
Pushed their way through in the misty ages,
Forty-eight thousand years had passed
With nobody arriving across the Qin border.
And the Great White Mountain, westward, still has only a bird's path
Up to the summit of Emei Peak –
Which was broken once by an earthquake and there were brave men lost,
Just finishing the stone rungs of their ladder toward heaven.
High, as on a tall flag, six dragons drive the sun,
While the river, far below, lashes its twisted course.
Such height would be hard going for even a yellow crane,
So pity the poor monkeys who have only paws to use.
The Mountain of Green Clay is formed of many circles-
Each hundred steps, we have to turn nine turns among its mound –
Panting, we brush Orion and pass the Well Star,
Then, holding our chests with our hands and sinking to the ground with a groan,
We wonder if this westward trail will never have an end.
The formidable path ahead grows darker, darker still,
With nothing heard but the call of birds hemmed in by the ancient forest,
Male birds smoothly wheeling, following the females;
And there come to us the melancholy voices of the cuckoos
Out on the empty mountain, under the lonely moon....
Such travelling is harder than scaling the blue sky.
Even to hear of it turns the cheek pale,
With the highest crag barely a foot below heaven.
Dry pines hang, head down, from the face of the cliffs,
And a thousand plunging cataracts outroar one another
And send through ten thousand valleys a thunder of spinning stones.
With all this danger upon danger,
Why do people come here who live at a safe distance?
Though Dagger-Tower Pass be firm and grim,
And while one man guards it
Ten thousand cannot force it,
What if he be not loyal,
But a wolf toward his fellows?
There are ravenous tigers to fear in the day
And venomous reptiles in the night
With their teeth and their fangs ready
To cut people down like hemp.
Though the City of Silk be delectable, I would rather turn home quickly.
Such travelling is harder than scaling the blue sky....
But I still face westward with a dreary moan.

The translation, looking at the Chinese, is not that great; close but not precise. It would take about a month or six weeks to work on it so I am definitely NOT making any commitment!! Still ....

All the best,
Brendan

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Re: Eden Valley

Post by barrie » Sun Dec 21, 2008 7:03 pm

Thanks a lot Jimmy - Tim.

Thanks Brendan - About the Pleiades: yes, it's a reflection in the water, but as they're about 450 light years away skywards, using reflective logic, they look about same distance away in the mirror of the tarn. You know it's not meant to be taken literally - Are you playing the Irish Devil's Advocaat? - If you are, play me one by Seamus Ennis.

Thanks again everyone.

Barrie
After letting go of branches and walking through the ape gait, we managed to grasp what hands were really for......

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Re: Eden Valley

Post by beautifulloser » Sun Dec 21, 2008 8:45 pm

Hey Baz

I like the effortlessness of this. This is the you I prefer, you do it so well and do the religious "god can kiss my arse" stuff less so (in my opinion), if you don't mind me saying so. S4 was my fave.

I thought maybe you could lose S1, I liked the superfluous tie to nature and cycles and stuff but equally thought you could lose it and not lose anything.

Last stanza is perfect, really. Suits you well.

Cheers

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Re: Eden Valley

Post by barrie » Sun Dec 21, 2008 9:19 pm

Thanks beau - Where've you been...to another flooded Italian city? I've just written another god one, but it's not god can kiss my arse (when did I ever say that?).

cheers

Barrie
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Re: Eden Valley

Post by juliadebeauvoir » Mon Dec 22, 2008 12:32 am

I'm late for this one it seems. I thought the opening was arresting. Every verse tight and lovely. I would keep barn owl wings as I don't think you want to express fear (as in screech owl). It seems to me that you are speaking of a moment where earth and universe are subdued.
The Pleiades
lie light-years below
the surface of a dark tarn.
Suggestion is to leave 'lie" out of it. "Light years below the surface" already does the work.
A gnarled crab-apple tree
clings to an outcrop,
waiting for Eve and her Serpent.
Also, maybe pare it down to "waiting for Eve's Serpent"--does it really need two? Or just a visual description of the scene? I think that would be enough.

Are you outside of Eden's gates? The narrator floats in the water (or the universe) and parties with Barbarians while Eden is freshly cut from God's fabric. And Eve doesn't even get the possibility of eating a really good apple. So the sin is bitter, the land is cold but there is always vino!

Great read.

Kim
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Re: Eden Valley

Post by barrie » Mon Dec 22, 2008 1:18 pm

Thanks Kim - Eve's Sepent sounds good - I might just use that.

The Pleiades
lie light-years below
the surface of a dark tarn.
- If I left out 'lie' I'd be left verbless - and that's no good at this time of year.

cheers

Barrie
After letting go of branches and walking through the ape gait, we managed to grasp what hands were really for......

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Re: Eden Valley

Post by twoleftfeet » Mon Dec 22, 2008 5:02 pm

Barrie,

It's all been said - a beautiful evocation of a landscape.

The only (tiny) nit I have is that you omit articles in S1 and S2, (which suggests personification and Chinese
poetry) but then employ them in S3 and S4.
I think that

Pleiades lie
light-years below
dark tarn's surface


- might be better, but others will probably disagree

Great read
Geoff

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Re: Eden Valley

Post by barrie » Mon Dec 22, 2008 5:22 pm

Thanks Geoff - I can see your logic here, I have a thing about missing articles, too, I must admit, and I don't think Pleiades sounds right without the article. Alternatively, I think solstice moon sounds better without one, especially as a lead in. I don't always use an article with frost, or snow come to think of it - I would say snow was falling in preference to the snow or a snow. I suppose it's matter of taste.

cheers

Barrie
After letting go of branches and walking through the ape gait, we managed to grasp what hands were really for......

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Re: Eden Valley

Post by beautifulloser » Mon Dec 22, 2008 5:37 pm

Thanks beau - Where've you been...to another flooded Italian city?
Sadly not.

Been without internet for ages and had a spot of block, then I moved house. That aside, I've also been getting dumped by my now ex feminist girlfriend. She had really marvellous breasts, I told her so too. We lasted three weeks, it must have been something I said :)

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Re: Eden Valley

Post by Elphin » Mon Dec 22, 2008 8:39 pm

A cracker sir, atmosphere abounds

I'll moor my boat
to the Well Rope Star


for the sounds alone, I wish I had written that.

Only nit would be the Eves Serpent line - Im not sure how it fits with the pagan (solstice, moon, stars, barbarians) imagery and is it maybe an overused image. minor point but I know youd want to hear it.

Good stuff

elph

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Re: Eden Valley

Post by barrie » Mon Dec 22, 2008 9:09 pm

Thanks Elph - The Eve's Serpent thing is just a symbol of Eden (personally I think the interpretation of the myths all wrong, but there you go) - I had a crab apple on a rocky outcrop in mind and it's crying out for a lurking serpent - It's just outside Kendal though, so the location's all wrong. The mythology's pagan - the gift of the apple, it's common in most Western mythology (Arthur's Paradise - Avalon - Isle of apples: The Garden of the Hesperides - another orchard). The Christians managed to latch on to Pagan festivals quite easily - Christmas, Easter, Samhain etc.

cheers

Barrie
After letting go of branches and walking through the ape gait, we managed to grasp what hands were really for......

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