The Nine Tellers - Version 4 & 5 (Past tense)

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The Nine Tellers - Version 4 & 5 (Past tense)

Postby oggiesnr » Mon Jan 02, 2017 2:16 pm

The Nine Tellers - a memory from a Lincolnshire childhood.

The church bell sounded across the village.
One … two… three … a longer pause.
The older villagers fell silent.

A cleaning lady stopped dusting,
starting to count as
the incomer wife worked on.

The bell’s note wavering on the wind,
a hillside shepherd counted in his way
yannera, tannera, tethera …

The bell rang on,
four ... five ...six ... pause
Not a child. A woman?

The bell spoke again,
methera … hovera … covera … pause.
Nine tellers: a man had died.

Taking a new grip, the sexton
started the telling of the years.
One strike for every birthday lived.

Stones, worn from long years of handling,
were taken from the shepherd’s pocket.
Holding them in his right hand he counted.

As he silently mouthed figgits,
and the cleaner mumbled “twenty”,
a stone moved from right hand to left.

The bell tolled on and he started again,
Yannera … tannera ... tethera ...
pethera … pimp … methera ...

Twice more a stone changed hands
Yannera dik … tanera dik …. tethera dik.
Finally the bell fell silent.

In house and on hillside
counters considered the telling.
“A man of seventy three, who?”

They worked it out, Jock Gardner,
It had to be him. His tremors
from the Great War finally stilled.

They’re all gone now,
villagers who knew the meaning of the ringing,
the last of the sextons who rang the telling,

and the shepherd, whose flock
is now counted by an app
in the farmer’s office.

So this version I've changed to past tense, except for the end, to try and make the historical nature clearer (thanks Ian). The version below is the revise present tense version. Comments gratefully received. My other undecided thought was whether or not to reinstate a version of the original last verse.

The Nine Tellers - a memory from a Lincolnshire childhood.

The church bell sounds across the village.
One … two… three … a longer pause.
The older villagers fall silent.

A cleaning lady stops dusting,
starting to count as
the incomer wife works on.

The bell’s note wavering on the wind,
a hillside shepherd counts in his way
yannera, tannera, tethera …

The bell rings on,
four ... five ...six ... pause
Not a child. A woman?

The bell speaks again,
methera … hovera … covera … pause.
Nine tellers: a man has died.

Taking a new grip, the sexton
starts the telling of the years.
One strike for every birthday lived.

Stones, worn from long years of handling,
are taken from the shepherd’s pocket.
He holds them in his right hand as he counts.

He counts to figgits,
as the cleaner mumbles “twenty”
a stone moves from right hand to left.

As the bell tolls on he starts again,
Yannera … tannera ... tethera ...
pethera … pimp … methera ...

Twice more a stone changes hands
Yannera dik … tanera dik …. tethera dik.
At last the bell falls silent.

In house and on hillside
counters consider the telling.
“A man of seventy three, who?”

They work it out, Jock Gardner,
it has to be him. His tremors
from the Great War finally stilled.

They’re all gone now,
villagers who knew the meaning of the ringing,
the last of the sextons who rang the telling,

and the shepherd, whose flock
is now counted by an app
in the farmer’s office.

I've added to the title to try and point up its historical/geographical context. "Realisation" has gone and that stanza has a biggish rewrite. Gone also is the confusion of the incomer wife though she remains. Couple of other revisions, mainly cutting out words. I'm going to try this out at a reading tonight to gauge reaction. A bit of extra background. I also tell stories and this started as the introduction to the story I tell of Jock Gardner. At some point it took on a life of its own and became a separate poem.

Thank you all again for your contributions.


The Nine Tellers

The church bell sounds across the village.
One … two… three … a longer pause.
The older villagers fall silent.

A cleaning lady stops dusting,
starting to count as
the incomer wife looks on confused.

The bell’s note wavering on the wind,
a hillside shepherd counts in his way
yannera, tannera, tethera.

The bell rings on,
four ... five ...six ... pause
Not a child. A woman?

The bell speaks again,
methera … hovera … covera … pause.
Nine tellers, a man has died.

Taking a new grip, the sexton
starts the telling of the years.
One strike for every birthday lived.

Stones, worn from long years of handling,
are taken from the shepherd’s pocket.
Holding them in his right hand he counts.

He counts to figgits,
as the cleaner mumbles “twenty”
a stone moves from right hand to left.

As the bell tolls on he starts again,
Yannera … tannera ... tethera ...
pethera … pimp … methera ...


Twice more a stone changes hands
Yannera dik … tanera dik …. tethera dik.
At last the bell falls silent.

In the house and on the hillside
the counters consider the telling.
“A man of seventy three, who?”

Realisation. Jock Gardner,
his tremors from the Great War
finally stilled.

They’re all gone now,
the villagers who knew the meaning of the tolling,
the last of the sextons who rang the bell's telling,

and the shepherd, whose flock
is now counted by an app
in the farmer’s office.

Thank you to everyone who has commented on this. I've found all the criticism really useful and, whilst it may not be the finished item yet, I think it is now a much better poem than the version I first posted.

The Nine Tellers - First revision

The tenor bell sounds across the village
One … two… three … a pause
Older villagers fall silent.

A cleaning lady stops dusting
And starts to count as
The incomer’s wife looks on confused.

On the hillside, the bell’s note wavering on the wind,
The shepherd counts in the old way
Yannera … tannera … tethera …

The bell rings on, four, five, six,
Pethera … pimp … sethera … pause
Not a child, a woman?

The bell speaks again, seven, eight, nine,
Methera … hovera … covera … pause
A man has died.

The sexton takes a new grip,
The tolling starts again
One strike for every year lived.

Stones, worn from long years of handling
Are taken from the shepherd’s pocket.
Holding them in his right hand he counts.

He counts to figgits,
As the cleaner mumbles “twenty”
A stone moves from right hand to left.

The bell tolls on and he counts
Yannera, tannera, tethera.
At the steady pace of the bell.

Twice more a stone changes hands
Yannera dik … tanera dik …. tethera dik
Silence. The telling is over.

On the hillside and in the house
The counters decode the telling.
“A man, seventy three, who?”

They work it out, Jock Gardner.
Another elder of the village gone
With his memories of life and loss.

They’re all gone now,
Villagers who knew to count,
The line of sextons who rang the telling.

The shepherd’s sheep are tracked
And numbered by GPS on an app
In the farmer’s office

And the Nine Tellers live only in song,
Book, verse and the memories
Of those for whom the telling bell can never toll.

The Nine Tellers

The low tone of the tenor bell rings out across the village
One … two… three … a pause
A generation of villagers stop work to count.

At the incomer’s house the cleaning lady
Stills the vacuum and counts as
The lady who pays her looks on confused.

On the hillside, as the bell’s note wavers on the wind,
A shepherd counts in the old way
Yannera … tannera … tethera …

The bell rings on, four … five .. six …
Pethera … pimp … sethera
So not a child, maybe a woman?

Then seven … eight … nine,
Methera … hovera … covera,
A man it is who has died.

A longer pause, the sexton takes a new grip
And the tolling starts again
One strike for every year lived.

The shepherd takes stones from his pocket.
Worn from long years of handling
He holds them in his right hand and counts.

He only counts to figgits,
As the cleaner mumbles “twenty”
He moves a stone from his right hand to his left.

As the tolling continues he starts again,
Yannera, tannera, tethera, pethera, pimp
Onwards he counts at the steady pace of the bell.

Twice more he transfers a stone then
Yannera dik … tanera dik …. tethera dik
And the bell falls silent

As the cleaner stops at seventy three
The counters start to consider
“A man, seventy three, who?”

They work it out, Jock Gardner.
Must be. Another elder of the village gone
Taking with him his memories of life and loss.

They’re all gone now,
The villagers who knew when to count
The last of the sextons who rang the toll.

Now the shepherd’s sheep are tracked
And numbered by GPS on an app
In the Farmer’s office

Whilst the Nine Tellers live only in song,
Book and verse and the memories
Of those for whom the telling bell will never toll.
Last edited by oggiesnr on Fri Jan 20, 2017 11:28 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: The Nine Tellers

Postby Luce » Mon Jan 02, 2017 9:45 pm

I like the intent, a description of how one use to "read" the tolling of the bell, announcing a death and how this knowledge was slowly being lost. However, it read more like prose than poetry in the end and I was missing the poetry.

The imagery is there but it was hard to detect any sonics. It may have had to do with the way you did your line breaks. For Example:

Original Stanza

The low tone of the tenor bell rings out across the village
One … two… three … a pause
A generation of villagers stop work to count.


Suggested Stanza

The tone of the tenor bell rings out
across the village. One...two...three
a pause. A generation of villagers stop
to count.


Note the trimming of the stanza also.

I'd go over each stanza to cut out unnecessary words, look for or inject alliterations or other sound devices, when possible. Put in a fresh simile or two, if you can. This would be a good start.

Luce
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Re: The Nine Tellers

Postby oggiesnr » Mon Jan 02, 2017 10:29 pm

Thanks Luce. That is really helpful and I will do as you suggest.

I'm very aware that I have a habit of writing what I call "Pories" which are a cross between a poem and a story. In terms of a story they are lacking because I use almost a shorthand instead of descriptions. In this case, for example, I paint no picture of the shepherd but leave it to the reader. In terms of a poem the faults are those that you perceived.

I'll have a rethink, watch this space,

Thank you again.
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Re: The Nine Tellers - revised

Postby oggiesnr » Tue Jan 03, 2017 5:57 pm

The Nine Tellers - First revision

The tenor bell sounds across the village
One … two… three … a pause
Older villagers fall silent.

A cleaning lady stops dusting
And starts to count as
The incomer’s wife looks on confused.

On the hillside, the bell’s note wavering on the wind,
The shepherd counts in the old way
Yannera … tannera … tethera …

The bell rings on, four, five, six,
Pethera … pimp … sethera … pause
Not a child, a woman?

The bell speaks again, seven, eight, nine,
Methera … hovera … covera … pause
A man has died.

The sexton takes a new grip,
The tolling starts again
One strike for every year lived.

Stones, worn from long years of handling
Are taken from the shepherd’s pocket.
Holding them in his right hand he counts.

He counts to figgits,
As the cleaner mumbles “twenty”
A stone moves from right hand to left.

The bell tolls on and he counts
Yannera, tannera, tethera.
At the steady pace of the bell.

Twice more a stone changes hands
Yannera dik … tanera dik …. tethera dik
Silence. The telling is over.

On the hillside and in the house
The counters decode the telling.
“A man, seventy three, who?”

They work it out, Jock Gardner.
Another elder of the village gone
With his memories of life and loss.

They’re all gone now,
Villagers who knew to count
The line of sextons who rang the telling.

The shepherd’s sheep are tracked
And numbered by GPS on an app
In the farmer’s office

And the Nine Tellers live only in song,
Book, verse and the memories
Of those for whom the telling bell can never toll.

Still a work in progress but a host of revisions made. Original is -

The Nine Tellers (Original)

The low tone of the tenor bell rings out across the village
One … two… three … a pause
A generation of villagers stop work to count.

At the incomer’s house the cleaning lady
Stills the vacuum and counts as
The lady who pays her looks on confused.

On the hillside, as the bell’s note wavers on the wind,
A shepherd counts in the old way
Yannera … tannera … tethera …

The bell rings on, four … five .. six …
Pethera … pimp … sethera
So not a child, maybe a woman?

Then seven … eight … nine,
Methera … hovera … covera,
A man it is who has died.

A longer pause, the sexton takes a new grip
And the tolling starts again
One strike for every year lived.

The shepherd takes stones from his pocket.
Worn from long years of handling
He holds them in his right hand and counts.

He only counts to figgits,
As the cleaner mumbles “twenty”
He moves a stone from his right hand to his left.

As the tolling continues he starts again,
Yannera, tannera, tethera, pethera, pimp
Onwards he counts at the steady pace of the bell.

Twice more he transfers a stone then
Yannera dik … tanera dik …. tethera dik
And the bell falls silent

As the cleaner stops at seventy three
The counters start to consider
“A man, seventy three, who?”

They work it out, Jock Gardner.
Must be. Another elder of the village gone
Taking with him his memories of life and loss.

They’re all gone now,
The villagers who knew when to count
The last of the sextons who rang the toll.

Now the shepherd’s sheep are tracked
And numbered by GPS on an app
In the Farmer’s office

Whilst the Nine Tellers live only in song,
Book and verse and the memories
Of those for whom the telling bell will never toll
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Re: The Nine Tellers

Postby Ros » Wed Jan 04, 2017 10:45 am

Hi oggiesnr,

(It's usual edit the first post and add revisions above the original, so everyone can easily see what's going on).

A fascinating story! You could tighten the format a bit by putting the sound of the bells (or the counting) in italics - it would make it clearer which was which. I think you're getting there with this - I would say you need to alter the bits that are less specific, eg

With his memories of life and loss.

tells the reader very little - obviously someone old would have such memories.

I'm confused by

Villagers who knew to count
The line of sextons who rang the telling.

- the sexton is the person who rang the bell? Why would they be counted?

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Re: The Nine Tellers

Postby oggiesnr » Wed Jan 04, 2017 6:23 pm

Thanks Ros,

Have put it on top as you advised.

I have also added a comma to the lines which didn't make proper sense.

Going away to think about your other comments on the written form. I think one of the problems is I tend to read my poems in performance so by default I can create the effect you refer to. Will play with the form on the page.

Thank you again.
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Re: The Nine Tellers - edited

Postby David » Wed Jan 04, 2017 7:59 pm

Definite echoes of the late great Jake Thackray here, oggie. Nice to see you posting here again.

Cheers

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Re: The Nine Tellers - edited

Postby Antcliff » Fri Jan 06, 2017 8:22 pm

I liked the counting core, Ogg. Nice idea.

I wondered if "long" was really needed?

I wonder if the reader needs to be told it is "the old way" in stanza three...let them figure that out?

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Re: The Nine Tellers - edited

Postby Luce » Fri Jan 06, 2017 11:52 pm

Oggie - Sounds a whole lot better but I think you can tighten it a bit more.

Luce


The Nine Tellers - First revision

I like the title but it's a little misleading since you're really just talking of 3 tellers (the cleaning lady, shepherd and sexton tolling the bell). Maybe a better title could be "The Last of the Tellers".

The tenor bell sounds across the village
One … two… three … a pause
Older villagers fall silent.

I like the opening stanza now. It sets the scene quickly, sounds tighter and the soft sonics come through now.

It seems like you capitalize the first letter of each line. I found it a little distracting since I didn't know if I should anticipate a partial or full stop or not.


A cleaning lady stops dusting
And starts to count as
The incomer’s wife looks on confused.

I like this stanza too. However, I'd break on the stronger word - "count" - as oppose to "as". I wasn't sure about using "incomer" since I wasn't familiar with the term. But, I looked it up and it means a recent arrival to a new region, so it fits perfectly. I'd put a comma after "count" and break on "wife" as oppose to "confused". I would suggest "perplexed" as oppose to "confused" for the alty value of "looks/perplexed" But, the value is so minor, in the end, that keeping "confused" in place is not a deal breaker.

On the hillside, the bell’s note wavering on the wind,
The shepherd counts in the old way
Yannera … tannera … tethera …

Like the pastoral scene which introduces the shepherd in the poem. Instead of "wavering on the wind" perhaps say it in the active voice. See below for this suggestion plus others for the stanza:

On the hillside, the bell's note wavers
in the wind. The old shepherd counts
in the ancient way...Yannera … tannera … tethera …


The bell rings on, four, five, six,
Pethera … pimp … sethera … pause
Not a child, a woman?

The bell speaks again, seven, eight, nine,
Methera … hovera … covera … pause
A man has died.

I like the above stanzas but I think you can delete the translated numbers and just leave the old dialect. I think the reader can figure it out. It also adds an almost mystical touch to the poem.

The sexton takes a new grip,
The tolling starts again
One strike for every year lived.

Stones, worn from long years of handling
Are taken from the shepherd’s pocket.
Holding them in his right hand he counts.

Like the action portrayed in the above two stanzas. Very clear.

He counts to figgits,
As the cleaner mumbles “twenty”
A stone moves from right hand to left.

A little confused here. Don't know what "figgits" means. The shepherd keeps stones in his pocket to interpret the bell? If he's keeping a stone for every year, that's a hell of a lot of stones since the sexton is striking the bell for every year lived. Is that right?

The bell tolls on and he counts
Yannera, tannera, tethera.
At the steady pace of the bell.

If the cleaner has already counted twenty, would it still be yannera, tannera, tethera?

I'd put a comma after "counts" and a comma after "tethera". I'd put "At" in lower case.


Twice more a stone changes hands
Yannera dik … tanera dik …. tethera dik
Silence. The telling is over.

Like the build up of suspense here.

On the hillside and in the house
The counters decode the telling.
“A man, seventy three, who?”

Maybe instead of repeating "telling" so soon, perhaps say ""bell" instead.

They work it out, Jock Gardner.
Another elder of the village gone
With his memories of life and loss.

They’re all gone now,
Villagers who knew to count,
The line of sextons who rang the telling.

I think you can combine the essence of these two stanzas like so:

They work it out. It's Jock Gardner,
another elder gone. But, they're all gone now
(the shepherd, the cleaner, the sexton too).

They were the ones who knew the count,
They were the ones who rang
the telling of the bell.

I'm not saying to use the exact wording but it's just to give an idea of how you can condense the stanzas.


The shepherd’s sheep are tracked
And numbered by GPS on an app
In the farmer’s office

And the Nine Tellers live only in song,
Book, verse and the memories
Of those for whom the telling bell can never toll.

Okay, I hate to say it but I think you can delete the last two stanzas. it takes away from your intent, which is basically to say how the counters and tellers have drifted into folklore. Before they died, they couldn't pass on the tradition, for whatever reason. Another death of sorts.
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Re: The Nine Tellers - edited

Postby oggiesnr » Sat Jan 07, 2017 10:53 pm

Thanks Luce.

I've done another revision but I'll look in detail at your points before I post it.

A bit of personal history. The incomer's wife was my mum, Jock did exist. I did actually know him. "Know" is too strong a word, all the village kids knew who he was.

This actually started as an intro to a story I was telling but became a poem by default. The fourth last verse currently reads

Realisation, Jock Gardner.
His tremors from the Great War
Finally stilled.

He went in 1914, with his hosses, to the front. He never recovered from the death of those he loved. He went back to the ploughing in 1918. When tractors came he never got on with them and went to the Hunt. He was retired about a year before he died. With a horse or a dog he was magic, away from them his hand trembled. He drank a half pint on a friday night in a pint pot.

Figgits is twenty, hence the moving of the stone as the cleaner mumbles twenty. You either moved a stone or dropped it and the counted up the moved/dropped stones and multiplied as required. So three stones from right to left is sixty plus the current count so seventy-three.

I'll have a think about your points and thank you for them.

Steve
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Re: The Nine Tellers - edited

Postby oggiesnr » Sun Jan 08, 2017 5:30 pm

Antcliff wrote:I liked the counting core, Ogg. Nice idea.

I wondered if "long" was really needed?

I wonder if the reader needs to be told it is "the old way" in stanza three...let them figure that out?

Seth


Thanks Seth,

I'm sorry I missed your comment first time round. I'll have a think about "the old way", I can see pros and cons in it.

Steve
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Re: The Nine Tellers - edited

Postby David » Sun Jan 08, 2017 7:23 pm

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Re: The Nine Tellers - edited

Postby Luce » Sun Jan 08, 2017 8:32 pm

David - WOW!!!!!! Thanks for the video. It made the explanation of the stone counting clearer.

Each stone represented 20 years.

When oggie mentioned the stones in the shepherd's pocket, I kept imaging a whole mess of stones. If each stone represented 20, then we're talking 5-6 stones (20 x 6 = 120 years max). Makes sense now.

Oggie - You may want to look at the stanzas about the stones to make it clearer, make it more reachable.
I couldn't find the definition of figgits so I was at a loss as to what it actually meant. I know that the cleaner saying "twenty" was my clue but I obviously missed it. Maybe revised "the stone" stanzas like so:

He counts to twenty
as the cleaner mumbles figgit".
A stone moves from right hand to left."

The bell tolls on and he counts again
Yannera, tannera, tethera.
At the steady pace of the bell.

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Re: The Nine Tellers - edited

Postby oggiesnr » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:26 am

Thanks for posting David. It's interesting that the Lincolnshire count is slightly different to the Swaledale count. In fact I'm aware of about a dozen different versions of this system.

Luce I'll think on what you say however part of the point is that the shepherd's count is unique to the shepherds, the cleaning lady wouldn't use it hence the two characters.

Steve
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Re: The Nine Tellers - edited

Postby JJWilliamson » Mon Jan 09, 2017 3:18 pm

Hi, Oggie

I think you have a wonderful poem here and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it from start to finish.
Wild horses wouldn't have stopped me finding my way to the end. Top drawer in my opinion.

Some in line thoughts for your deliberation:

oggiesnr wrote:The Nine Tellers - First revision

The tenor bell sounds across the village
One … two… three … a pause
Older villagers fall silent. ...Great opening hook. Why the pause and silence, I thought to myself. Had to read on.

A cleaning lady stops dusting ...Very effective way of showing how everybody was alerted by the tenor bell's ringing.
And starts to count as
The incomer’s wife looks on confused. ...They say "offcomer" where my wife's from. Kendal. I was an offcomer for years.

On the hillside, the bell’s note wavering on the wind, ...Would 'wavers' suit?
The shepherd counts in the old way
Yannera … tannera … tethera … ...I know this system by yan - tan - tethera from Barnard Castle way, County Durham, just before the road heads over the Pennines along the A66 to Cumbria. I was fascinated by the counting system the very first time I heard it.

The bell rings on, four, five, six,
Pethera … pimp … sethera … pause
Not a child, a woman? ...Love this entire strophe.

The bell speaks again, seven, eight, nine, ...You could drop the common numbers here. You've established the link. Still good, though.
Methera … hovera … covera … pause
A man has died. ...The pause at 'covera' means a man? Brilliant.

The sexton takes a new grip, ..."The sexton adjusts his grip" Might serve.
The tolling starts again ...Hadn't noticed till now but you're placing a capital letter at the head of each line. It's a bit confusing and not really necessary these days. A cap at the start of every sentence would be fine and much easier to follow. This poem isn't difficult to follow, by the way.
One strike for every year lived.

Stones, worn from long years of handling
Are taken from the shepherd’s pocket.
Holding them in his right hand he counts. ...Marvelous piece of history. The fact that the shepherd carries these stones really hits the right note as they double up for counting sheep and years, and receiving and translating messages. Like a sonic braille they represent the common language. Jungle drums could carry messages over 100 miles per hour.

He counts to figgits,
As the cleaner mumbles “twenty”
A stone moves from right hand to left. ...The feeling of concentration comes over very well.

The bell tolls on and he counts
Yannera, tannera, tethera.
At the steady pace of the bell.

Twice more a stone changes hands
Yannera dik … tanera dik …. tethera dik
Silence. The telling is over. ...Now we have a secondary hook. Great.

On the hillside and in the house
The counters decode the telling.
“A man, seventy three, who?”

They work it out, Jock Gardner.
Another elder of the village gone
With his memories of life and loss. ...The final reveal is perfect as it clearly demonstrates that the system works. Heaves a sigh of relief.

They’re all gone now,
Villagers who knew to count,
The line of sextons who rang the telling. ...Not 100% sure about this line. Is it a historical line of sextons or a line of campanologists IE the nine?

The shepherd’s sheep are tracked
And numbered by GPS on an app
In the farmer’s office ...You don't need this strophe in my opinion. The technological changes are pretty much self-evident.

And the Nine Tellers live only in song,
Book, verse and the memories
Of those for whom the telling bell can never toll. ... Is it 'of those' or 'for those'. The tellers have gone so todays folk will never be the subject of the tolling.


I enjoyed this very much. Please use or lose my suggestions as you see fit.

Best

JJ
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Re: The Nine Tellers - edited

Postby NotQuiteSure » Mon Jan 09, 2017 3:28 pm

Really like the idea of this piece.

L2 'a pause'
Surely there is always a pause between peals or is this gap in some way different?
If patterns of three couln't this be mirrored in the structure of the piece?

L3 'older villagers'
Who are theses older villagers?

L6 'count',
Method of counting is vague
'wife'
Is this necessary? I mean, is she not an incommer in her own right? And being a wife is not the reason for her confusion.

L21,L22 'counts'
Unnecessary repetition, is he 'mouthing', 'murmuring'..?

L36 'life and loss'
Perhaps 'life and lore'?

Re 'pories', perhaps 'soems, has more of a ring to it
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Re: The Nine Tellers - edited

Postby Luce » Wed Jan 11, 2017 2:52 pm

oggiesnr wrote:
Luce I'll think on what you say however part of the point is that the shepherd's count is unique to the shepherds, the cleaning lady wouldn't use it hence the two characters.

Steve


If that is the case, then I take back my suggestion. However, remember that the average reader may not know this difference. Also, the cleaner can always be a member of a shepherd's family who just learned to count the bells this way from her parents. We all assume habits from our parents, etc. that we continue. Some may be out dated or unnecessary.

The Cowboys

Andersen: Can you cook?

Nightlinger: Apple pie. Green apples sliced thin. Lard, flour, salt, water to bind. Sugar, cinnamon, a dab of butter. Three slashes on the crust, one for steam......and two because your momma did it that way.

Nevertheless, I can see maintaining this difference, hence the two characters, for those readers who may know.

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Re: The Nine Tellers - edited

Postby oggiesnr » Wed Jan 11, 2017 10:38 pm

NotQuiteSure wrote:Really like the idea of this piece.

L2 'a pause'
Surely there is always a pause between peals or is this gap in some way different?
If patterns of three couln't this be mirrored in the structure of the piece?

L3 'older villagers'
Who are theses older villagers?

L6 'count',
Method of counting is vague
'wife'
Is this necessary? I mean, is she not an incommer in her own right? And being a wife is not the reason for her confusion.

L21,L22 'counts'
Unnecessary repetition, is he 'mouthing', 'murmuring'..?

L36 'life and loss'
Perhaps 'life and lore'?

Re 'pories', perhaps 'soems, has more of a ring to it


Thanks for your comments which I have added into the mix.

The traditional peal for these was always a ring of three then a pause. That is why I chose a three line verse structur.

The older villagers are meant as a contrast to the incomers, they understand what is happening, the incomer doesn't. I take you point about the wife (who was an incomer) but I was also trying to contrast with the villagers who lived and worked in the village and the incomer who worked outside so his wife was left behind. I'll have another think on this.

I have a rewrite almost ready to post which may answer some of your other points.

Many thanks,

Steve
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Re: The Nine Tellers - Third version

Postby Luce » Thu Jan 12, 2017 2:58 pm

[quote="oggiesnr"]

Thank you to everyone who has commented on this. I've found all the criticism really useful and, whilst it may not be the finished item yet, I think it is now a much better poem than the version I first posted.

It certainly does sound better my friend, due to your diligence and your openness to suggestions. Time to give it a rest then, yes?

I look forward to seeing this poem again, when you're ready for another round, in the future.

Luce

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Re: The Nine Tellers - Third version

Postby bodkin » Thu Jan 19, 2017 12:53 pm

oggiesnr wrote:The Nine Tellers

The church bell sounds across the village.
One … two… three … a longer pause.
The older villagers fall silent.

A cleaning lady stops dusting,
starting to count as
the incomer wife looks on confused. To say "confused" is a tell, because you are interpreting her state of mind for us... You could describe her expression, or even just leave at "looks on." as that captures the exclusion which is the cause of the confusion...

The bell’s note wavering on the wind,
a hillside shepherd counts in his way
yannera, tannera, tethera.

The bell rings on,
four ... five ...six ... pause
Not a child. A woman?

The bell speaks again,
methera … hovera … covera … pause.
Nine tellers, a man has died. Colon? Maybe too formal?

Taking a new grip, the sexton
starts the telling of the years.
One strike for every birthday lived.

Stones, worn from long years of handling,
are taken from the shepherd’s pocket.
Holding them in his right hand he counts.

He counts to figgits,
as the cleaner mumbles “twenty”
a stone moves from right hand to left.

As the bell tolls on he starts again,
Yannera … tannera ... tethera ...
pethera … pimp … methera ...


Twice more a stone changes hands
Yannera dik … tanera dik …. tethera dik.
At last the bell falls silent.

In the house and on the hillside
the counters consider the telling.
“A man of seventy three, who?”

Realisation. Jock Gardner, Saying "realisation" is maybe a touch odd since this is for multiple separated people who no observer could watch acting as one... Maybe understanding is more the point that realisation?
his tremors from the Great War Is this implausible old? I'm getting something like 120... maybe 114 if he came in at the end of the war and lied about his age...
finally stilled.

They’re all gone now,
the villagers who knew the meaning of the tolling,
the last of the sextons who rang the bell's telling,

and the shepherd, whose flock
is now counted by an app
in the farmer’s office.


Enjoyed this a lot. It reminds me of the Dorothy L Sayers story The Nine Tailors which were a ring of bells in a Fens village...

And I like the characters and the details, very nice.

Ian
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Re: The Nine Tellers - Third version

Postby oggiesnr » Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:19 pm

Ian,

Thanks for the input. I'll think about "realisation".

It was 1965, hence also the fact that they have all passed. Jock, who existed, was born in 1892 and was twenty two when he went to war with the Lincolnshire Yeomanry. I was the incomer wife's son, the cleaning lady was Mrs Metheringham. I went to school with her daughter. The pubs he drank in have all gone, bar one. It is a very different world.

Should I put a date in the title?

Steve
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Re: The Nine Tellers - Third version

Postby bodkin » Fri Jan 20, 2017 10:21 am

oggiesnr wrote:Should I put a date in the title?


I think rather you need to just be slightly clearer about which parts are now and which are in 1965... I did wonder whether the app was contemporary and other parts looking back (although I didn't realise as far as 1965) but I thought maybe not...

OK, I re-read the latest and I see the problem. You are in the present tense throughout and then at the end you talk about "now". That can be taken two ways, either that the first present tense is historical and after the "now" is really now (which you intended) or that the whole thing is "now" but that you only mention that at the end (which is how I took it...) I think people could still misread it that way, although the extended title helps. Could you put the first section into the past tense? That might also be nice for a different reason and make more of a emotional change into your end section?

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Re: The Nine Tellers - Version 4

Postby oggiesnr » Fri Jan 20, 2017 10:38 am

Thanks Ian. Major food for thought. I'll have a play with it.

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Re: The Nine Tellers - Version 4

Postby bodkin » Fri Jan 20, 2017 10:58 am

If you don't want to go far as changing the tense, you could just say more at the turn... Something of a "that was then, this is now" statement.

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