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  #21  
Unread 11-26-2020, 08:25 AM
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A. Baez A. Baez is offline
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Nemo, of course you're right that lyricism is not confined to a certain language style; perhaps it is simply my experience that most of the poems that I'd consider lyrical have elements of that "certain language style." I've tried to steer clear of prejudice and dogmatism in my expectations of how I experience a work in any given style and indeed, there are many works that employ archaic elements in a self-conscious manner, devoid of any backbone of lyrical sensibility, that are utterly repellent to me. Conversely, I also recognize that some poets are better than I in conjuring lyricism through techniques that eschew "gracious language." As I suggested before, I don't mechanically turn to archaic terms or similar devices in an attempt to paste lyricism onto my works, but rather, since I've been long steeped in such terms through reading works that contain them (and most of the works that I prefer happen to), at this point such words and diction tend to flow out of me quite naturally--an "adopted language" of sorts.

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The separation that the passage of time affords can accentuate the sense of the lyrical, and the mythic model can inject that bit of distance that gives birth to deeper reflections on the very nature of existence.
Very good point, well put! This certainly helps explain my draw to such approaches. Indeed, the first draft of my "casement" poem started out in the past tense for exactly this reason.

Your explanation of what you meant by "impressionistic" was what I'd supposed; my uncertainty was more about how my poem-material would look rendered in such a style. While I can vaguely imagine it, I'm so unaccustomed to such an approach that it would not flow out of me naturally in my current state. If I wished to write in such a way, I would have to gradually cultivate the skill by reading works written in such a mode and gradually, consciously coaxing its emergence in my own mind. Otherwise, an attempt on my part to write in this manner would be far more inorganic than my above problematic effort.

I do appreciate being challenged to see a thing in a radically different manner than that to which I'm accustomed, and you've helped me to do that. Thank you!

Yves, your perspective is very interesting. It appears that the problem you've identified with the closure of my poem--and hence, the poem as a whole--is, from my end, that while attempting to do just what you described--clarifying the "issue/emotional-conundrum/metaphorical-association," I've actually continued being too oblique, assuming that the reader will draw metaphorical parallels when they actually may not. To me, "warmth" automatically conjures associations with something beyond the physical--a sense of inner well-being, liveliness, etc.; "breath I crave" screams "mental/emotional inspiration;" "weather" has obvious associations with all external elements beyond our complete control; and "stale air" carries strong hints of psychological malaise. But I seem to live on a more symbological plane than most people, and it appears that I've taken this perspective for granted in others.

Hopefully, your careful assessment will help me to home in on a solution for this poem. (And "Baez" is fine--it reminds me of an old childhood friend who used to address me that way, to comical effect.)

Bill,

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I thought you were giving "toward" two syllables to scan it thus:

Pushing * it part * way back * to ward * the wall
Yes, that was my intent. I hadn't considered the fact that some people, also correctly, pronounce "toward" with one syllable. I hope they're in the minority!

Thank you for offering up the example of Turner as a well-regarded modern poet who still uses initial caps. There are quite a few others, too!

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Apparently random archaisms provoke the suspicion that the writer is writing from his/her store of texts and is not quite capable of speaking his or her own language.
I appreciate this fact but question whether I should allow it to bully me into abandoning a language that I've assimilated to the extent that it actually is natural to me (at least in certain contexts)--now that would be a paradox!

Mary, thanks for your interesting attempt to "draw the window in its essence." I'd say that you have largely successfully boiled the whole poem down to its factual essence, but that metaphorically and lyrically, the success is questionable at best. Also, I don't perceive here the "impressionistic" approach that Nemo was invoking. Is there any compelling rhetorical direction in this? Is there any poetry?

Coleman, thanks for coming back. Yes, "redoubt" was intended metaphorically to evoke that word in its sense of "a reinforcing earthwork or breastwork within a permanent rampart"; it repels by holding shut, but I see your point and I know the word isn't ideal. The problem here is that I can't think of a way to phrase "Come winter, other hands will press back out" that eschews "out" at the end and thus relieves me of the terrible rhyme-limitations of that word. But maybe a systemic revision (seemingly called for) will eliminate this conundrum altogether.

You're right--"draw breath" is much better than "take breath"! I'll adopt it--at least until I attempt a broader overhaul.

Last edited by A. Baez; 11-26-2020 at 11:23 AM.
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  #22  
Unread 11-26-2020, 08:35 AM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
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Hello Baez (yes, there is something about your last name which makes me want to use it in a more formal manner for somewhat comic effects, and now I wonder if there were more parallels between me and your childhood friend. Say was he a bit of a joker generally?),

To clarify, you living on a symbological plane is not the issue for me, but it is closer to listening to someone else describe their dreams while one uses information gained from being familiar to that person to play games interpreting symbolic meanings relative to life events, except I am not at all familiar with the narrator's life. At the close of the poem, do you really want a reader, say me, running analyses on how the symbols signifiy and relate, when it appears we are reaching an emotional not analytical crux?

Yes there is a general mood of malaise hanging around, but as you described, it feel read like to you the symbols were well articulated and not just a collection of generalities. Even as you describe the symbols they are still functioning on the level of generalities which is difficult to connect with a narrator and her fixation on a window. As if the narrator arbitrarily fixates on a window just to give a focus on inner troubles, but it is not super clear that is what the poem is doing: following a narrator's somewhat arbitrary fixation.
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  #23  
Unread 11-26-2020, 09:08 AM
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A. Baez A. Baez is offline
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Yves, I do see what you're saying here and I appreciate this honing of your previous points. Hmm, all right, more to consider!

About my friend--she did have a ticklish feel for the humorous in life but was not a jokester in the usual sense. This made her use of the address "Baez," or an even odder alternate, "Mama Baez," all the more startling and thus, funny.

Last edited by A. Baez; 11-26-2020 at 09:11 AM.
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  #24  
Unread 11-26-2020, 09:10 AM
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Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is offline
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Hey Alexandra.

I found it an interesting experiment to compare your original with the selections from the original that Mary made. I found the shorter version to be more powerful while you found it lacking the poetry you needed from the original. I look at one aspect of poetry as a revealing of the authentic magic beneath the illusion of the mundane created by the stupor created by the usual. Here I think it happens more convincingly because in the original the heightened language makes me suspicious by demanding I stare at what will only appear in the periphery if it thinks I am not watching for it. If that makes sense. What you seem to need in this one to bring the poetry drowns it for me in too much. I don't think my sensitivities are necessarily right while yours are wrong but I might suspect that the language/style you are drawn to here is from one side of a catastrophe while most of us come to it from the other side of that collapse. To use it without acknowledging the collapse risks the above mentioned suspicion. What does acknowledgement look like? Almost impossible to say clearly but I know its fire by the smell of smoke in the work. For me post-apocalyptic pomp and circumstance has to have the scars and the tattoos on the marchers to not risk the wrong kind of nostalgia. I am less talking about this poem or your style now than a theory of formalism in general. Poetry after Auschwitz and all that...if that makes sense.
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  #25  
Unread 11-26-2020, 10:51 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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With all due respect, I think the rewrite of Mary’s sounds like the poem Mary would write. (Though that’’s not to say that every word of Alexandra’s should stay — but I defer to others with a more polished critical eye to make those suggestions.)

I’ve been reading the poem for days now and it continues to fascinate me. This is an in-depth rumination on a single, ordinary thing that radiates extraordinary meaning upon continued examination. I’ve seen Nemo, Mary and others here do the same thing with the same effect, albeit with distinctly different voices.

I was initially hesitant to accept the mention of and attention to the details as you do, though that faded, too, as I became engrossed in the window's persistent rattle. Although this forum assumes critical responses, it is always helpful to just sit back and enjoy the purity of the voice, even if it isn’t a voice I would write in. I like to make a distinction between verbose and effusive. In this case, the voice is unrestrained by certain poetic expectations and rings clear as a bell to my ear.

I think it is a carefully crafted poem with enormous latency and impressive command of multiple expressions of the single object being examined. I love it as is… But if I were to suggest anything it would be:
  • Give the poem some air. Perhaps three stanzas with breaks at L11/12 and L20/21.
  • I don’t know if the semi-colon works at the end of L21. You might not need anything at all — or maybe a more definitive period. Perhaps an emdash… I confess I don’t like semicolons in poetry).
  • The word "Casement" in the title seems so unpoetic a word. Would "Sash" work? Loose Sash.
  • "Bestirs" continues to stick out for me. I've gotten to accept it, but wonder if you could be more specific. For example "rattles"— though that may tip the rhythm.


I like this poem very much. It reminds me of how many times things wait for me to notice them and give them their due. You waited just long enough.
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  #26  
Unread 11-26-2020, 11:13 AM
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Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is offline
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No respect necessary, Jim. Fight for your experience of it. I did.

I disagree with there being anything extra-Mary-like about her suggested edit. All the rest is fair.
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  #27  
Unread 11-26-2020, 01:06 PM
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R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is offline
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Do experiment with some stanzaic space, Alexandra.
I think it would make a great deal of difference, even with few other changes.

As for Mary's suggestion (which she proffered, I note, with proper apologies for presumption), I think it quite rich with poetry, though I grant you the voice is hers and not yours. Yet it is a good example of what I was hinting about as far as impressionism. I'm puzzled by your question "Is there any compelling rhetorical direction in this?" and your so easily equating rhetoric with poetry. That seems, indeed, a somewhat outdated view of what constitutes poetry. It has its place, the rhetorical, for sure, but the question poetry has come more and more to wrestle with is not how to deliver rhetoric in decorous language, but rather how to conjure ideas from images. Ideally the rhetorical position simple arises from the imagery like a ghost of sense.

I am not trying to play ventriloquist here. Nor was Mary, methinks.
Just trying to shake up the bag with the lines of letters in it, to see how that effects future expression for all involved in these discussions.

Nemo
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  #28  
Unread 11-26-2020, 03:06 PM
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A. Baez A. Baez is offline
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Andrew, wow, I'm dumbfounded that you found so much to like in Mary's version, which I wasn't even sure she intended as anything more than an artless, sequential listing of the poem's key phrases. However, I do appreciate your point that you'd like to hear delineated the cause of the narrator's feeling of helplessness. I think this takes a step further something that some others have said about wanting more context surrounding the n. I had barely considered doing this, but I suppose I was afraid that being specific in this regard would rob the poem of its universality and would wind up coming off as self-absorbed. Anyway, thank you for your perspective.

Jim, I feel a huge relief that you, for one, really seem to "get" what I was striving for in this poem. Indeed, it's all about latency, and I realize that this is not to everyone's taste. It's written from, and for, a taste which, when found in this country, is acquired, I think, from other parts. I believe it springs from a more "European" mentality-- think "Waiting for Godot," a play all about nothing happening. Over my life, I've absorbed a lot of this understated sensibility through film, literature, and other arts, and my experiment in writing this poem sprung from a desire along the lines of what you expressed--to release myself from the restraint of certain poetic conventions. I'd say that chief among these is the assumption that a narrative, when present, should be linear and derive its interest from its inherent drama.

Several others have recommended breaking up the piece into stanzas, but I may like the idea that you suggest of doing this in sections larger than quatrains.

I generally strive to write my poems with the same punctuation that they would have if written as prose, so in that respect, punctuation is definitely called for at the end of L21, although if I were to write this passage in prose, I'd sub a period for the second semicolon in this sentence. (I didn't because I didn't want to interrupt the flow that way, especially mid-line.)

As to "sash," this word refers to the window frame itself, whereas what I really want to refer to is the pane and the frame. The first definition of "casement," "a window or part of a window set on a hinge so that it opens like a door," does this perfectly. I don't find the word unpoetic, although it certainly is less elegant than "sash." If it has a touch of the workaday, that's okay with me, because this poem's literal narrative is workaday. If you saw how ordinary and beat-up the whole area on which this poem was based is, you'd never consider using "sash" to describe the window frame.

My runner-up choice for "bestirs" was "disturbs," and this probably remains my favorite alternative. (I'm looking for something gentler than "rattle.")

Nemo--oh, that's what you had in mind with impressionism? Wow.

I see what you mean about conjuring ideas from images rather than employing an explicit rhetoric. But Mary's version seemed too explicit in its narrative to be considered simply a palette of images, yet not explicit enough in its narrative or rhetoric to function well in either of those ways, either. (It also unceremoniously chopped out most of the prosodic flow that I was at least aiming for in the original.) If my version fails to convey my intended metaphorical significance, I certainly don't see how Mary's version does convey this message. The truth is, I don't trust my ability to convey what I want to with this poem simply from suggestive images. It might be an ability worth cultivating, but is it the only legitimate way to peel this orange?

Last edited by A. Baez; 11-26-2020 at 03:35 PM.
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  #29  
Unread 11-26-2020, 03:24 PM
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Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is offline
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Hey Alexandra.

I guess for me the poetry of the subject was in a silent calculation about metaphor that can't bear the gravitational mass of the heightened language in a sense. And then I got carried away into a argument about reflecting old poetic diction forward into now, unchanged by the sea burial. But that may not be interesting in any way here, except to me. Which is fair.
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  #30  
Unread 11-26-2020, 04:06 PM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
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Hello Baez (yes, I had to stop my self saying mama, really had to exert control, and dampen the emotional need for mischief, but your friend was on point with the humour, on point),

Does Waiting for Godot have something like a mounting emotional climax in relatively heightened symbolic language at the end referencing typical patterns of poetic closure, or does it end in a kind of flat listlessness ? It has been decades since I saw it last on television as a child, and now I am curious to go watch it again.

Now, it does not do to take comments to other readers, and contort them to make a point, and I only reference your Godot comment because the comment made me take my previous thoughts from another angle. It is that the closure seems so pointedly meaningful and relatively dramatic compared to the rest of the poem, that the whole rhetorical strategy did not strike me as a "Waiting for Godot" type procedure, but now I am curious about what you consider are the other references and influences for what your are attempting here vis-a-vis poetic convention.
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