Life and Death (two englynion)

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barrie
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Life and Death (two englynion)

Post by barrie » Thu Aug 14, 2008 12:58 pm

-------Life

In life, it’s better not to overreach,
Easy days, summer hot,
Beer mug full, food in the pot,
Grateful for the simple lot.

-------Death

By death absorbed, enshrouded in cold clay,
Root bound, with rot endowed,
To earth returned, larvae ploughed,
All religion disavowed.
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: Life and Death

Post by jms » Thu Aug 14, 2008 2:11 pm

Was I just dreaming when I saw a slightly different version of this, briefly, yesterday? ;-)

I like where you're going with this one, but not quite sure if you've got there yet, if that makes any sense? I like the argument, if it's your intention, that it's best to enjoy life now because all that awaits us is the grave.

At the moment, to me, however, the two bits seem a bit disparate, especially given that last line. Like we have an argument in part 1 that it's best 'not to overreach', enjoy ourself. While in part 2 we have a description of the grave, with the slightly forced, I thought, atheistic sentiment at the last, which didn't really seem to fit. Surely the last line should be a link back into part 1, a remembrance of what has been lost? Perhaps some hint of how the previously referred to summer heat cannot reach the corpse there, or something of the sort? The 'religion disavowed' line seemed to be coming from a different poem altogether...

The rhymes in the last verse were, though, I thought very good. Were the slightly harder words in the second part a deliberate contrast to the 'hot/pot/lot' in the first?

Cheers,

Jon

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Re: Life and Death

Post by Danté » Thu Aug 14, 2008 2:49 pm

Barrie

The first thing that strikes me with this is the first line.
“In life it’s better not to overreach,”
To my mind the statement lacks authority as it basically says don’t have ideas above your station. Or don’t aspire to something just out of reach that you might grasp eventually. It is a generalisation that is in some ways contradicted by the remainder of S1, as line two and three would sound idyllic and something to aspire to for some.
These lines do not really portray a really simple life as they are rich rewards that are not afforded by all.

So maybe, Some say, It’s better not to overreach, as this does have more honest reality about it.

S2 seems fine to me apart from “All religion disavowed.” As the stiffies would not be able to make that choice; and if they happen to be buried with their limbs positioned in a way that is religiously significant or are adorned; this last statement would be an impossibility. Again I feel it generalises.

Just my humble opinion for what it is worth

Kind regards

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

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Re: Life and Death

Post by twoleftfeet » Thu Aug 14, 2008 8:41 pm

Barrie,

In S1 ,this line clunks a little, IMHO
Easy days, summer hot,

and I tend to agree with Jon about the disparity between S1 and S2. The certainty of death and the likelihood that
this life is all you get might make some people think "what the hell, I may as well overreach wildly"

S2 is a cracker, though

Geoff

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Re: Life and Death

Post by Sharra » Fri Aug 15, 2008 7:41 am

At first I wasn't sure about this, but there's definitely something interesting going on, as I keep coming back and rereading it. It feels like 2 different characters speaking, I can see a guy lazing in the sun, thinking he knows it all and then the more sinister, shadowy voice behind him.
The first 3 lines of s2 fit with this for me, the last line doesn't - I think because there's been no hint of religion in the rest of the poem and it's suddenly brought in at the end. It could stand as it is if there was a middle stanza bringing in the work hard, pray hard ethic and then using the end to tie the 2 together (but I realise that would totally change the shape and direction of the poem).
I like the rhyme scheme you've used, and the choice of simple language in s1 with the darker s2.
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Re: Life and Death

Post by barrie » Fri Aug 15, 2008 9:24 am

I wrote the original a year or two back - It's a four line Welsh form. L1 has ten syllables, L2 has six and the last two have seven. The end rhyme is taken from the sixth syllable of L1.

I agree that it's disparate, that's why I split it into two sections instead of the usual verses. The simple, contented life and the cold end of death. I'd been reading quite a bit of Hardy when I wrote it, hence the theme(s).

All religion disavowed - Death removes any vows - only the living make vows; when you're dead they no longer count. My point of view.
jms wrote:Was I just dreaming when I saw a slightly different version of this, briefly, yesterday?
- No, you weren't. I took it back to tinker some more. It's one of those that seems OK when you've tinkered, but when you go back to it it something else seems wrong.
Yes, I deliberately stuck to simple words in V1.
Danté wrote:The first thing that strikes me with this is the first line.
“In life it’s better not to overreach,”
To my mind the statement lacks authority as it basically says don’t have ideas above your station.
- There are still people (me for one) who do just enough to afford the simple pleasures in life without stretching themselves too much. What it's saying is, don't give yourself a hernia by overreaching, life's too short to spend all your energy striving for more. It's not meant to offer advice, just a point of view.
twoleftfeet wrote:The certainty of death and the likelihood that
this life is all you get might make some people think "what the hell, I may as well overreach wildly"
- You're right. Many overreach without Death prodding them up the arse, for many different reasons. I suppose we all pursue happiness on our own way.
Sharra wrote: I can see a guy lazing in the sun, thinking he knows it all
- Yes, that's me, 'cept for the last bit - once upon a long time ago I thought I did. I still know how to be bad tempered and awkward though.

Thanks a lot everyone. I'm still not satisfied with it and I'll keep tinkering. Englyn, that's the name of the form. All help gratefully received.

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: Life and Death

Post by Elphin » Fri Aug 15, 2008 10:02 am

Barrie

I keep coming back to this - something is troubling me and I cant quite put my finger on it but I think there are two things

First the phrase - it’s better not to overreach. I dont have any problem with the sentiment but I wonder why you state it, then describe it in l2 and l3, and then repeat the sentiment in the last line. I think you need something else in here so that the reader comes to that conclusion rather than being told.

Second - I feel that for this to work as one poem of two parts there should be a connection somewhere in II back to I. I was looking for the last line - All religion disavowed to do that. But, the narrators principles of not overreaching aren't religious ones so I was left trying to connect the two.

Does that make any sense - Im not offering many suggestions other than replace it’s better not to overreach and complete the circle in your last line of II.

Isnt it strange how the short ones are the most challenging?

elph

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Re: Life and Death

Post by beautifulloser » Fri Aug 15, 2008 12:29 pm

Hey Baz

Cracking crit from Elph - again!

I agree with him on point one - it's better not to overreach - is a bit telly. Whereas being shown that you don't have to overreach to be happy, which is obvious in the subsequent lines (who doesn't like a full mug of beer, eh?) kind of makes the opening statement redundant. Like the Zen saying "there is no way to happiness, happiness is the way" kind of thing. That said, it's a small nit and it's your poem and you can bloody well say it however you like! Having read a lot your stuff I got the general vibe but not sure if it is universal, if you get me. Some do overreach to be happy - I know plenty of arseholes jumping on the meritocracy bandwagon who are full of self worth, they seem resonably happy . . . . don't have much time for a beer though when there's work to do.

Unlike Elph, I thought the title seperated the two stanzas enough. But you might want to reflect on that. Good piece my man.

Aye, shorter pieces . . . something I've been working on of late, less is more, yadda yadda . . .

big love

me
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Re: Life and Death

Post by dedalus » Fri Aug 15, 2008 2:00 pm

This is brilliant, my dear boy ... with one or two minor caveats:

You don't need Roman Numerals for a 2-stanza poem!! Cop on.
By death absorbed, enshrouded in cold clay,
doesn't fit ... the line is too long: 3 syllables in enshrouded, fer Gawd's sake!
Change it to "sunk", see how it reads.

But, yes, I am impressed.

Brendan

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Re: Life and Death

Post by barrie » Sun Aug 17, 2008 10:18 am

Thanks Elph and Beau - Points taken. Like I said, every time I come back to it something else glares at me - I think I'll push it one side again, forget it for a while. Leave Welsh forms for the Welsh tongue.

Bren - I used roman numerals because it's in two parts - in fact, it's more like two poems, one called Life and one called Death. Maybe that would solve the linking thing if they had their own titles. They're not supposed to be about the same person, just thoughts on both subjects - the only real link is the form.
dedalus wrote:Quote:
By death absorbed, enshrouded in cold clay,

doesn't fit ... the line is too long: 3 syllables in enshrouded, fer Gawd's sake!
Change it to "sunk", see how it reads.


Bren, it's supposed to have ten syllables - L1 - 10: L2 - 6: L's 3&4 - 7.
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: Life and Death (two englynion)

Post by emuse » Sun Aug 17, 2008 5:16 pm

B, I think challenging one's self to new forms is a cause for applause but in this case it feels like form over substance. I don't believe one can disagree with part one. It's not a matter of whether this is true or not it's simply a viewpoint being asserted and not necessarily one offered by the author. I have no problem with it at all. It is a philosophy, but it's not trying to be didactic (and if it is, so what). It's Death that bothers me. The metaphor doesn't show the reader anything new, "root bound" and returning to clay and so on don't really offer the kind of contrast you're looking for IMO. If you can instill a more compelling philosophic view in the death section, you've got it made. As always, I enjoyed dissecting and appreciate the effort it took to create this.

Cheers,

e

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Re: Life and Death (two englynion)

Post by barrie » Sun Aug 17, 2008 7:18 pm

Thanks e. Yes, I don't think this one's been very successful - these Welsh forms feel very constraining. I'll give them another go soon.

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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