Am I an Englishman? (V4)

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Am I an Englishman? (V4)

Post by bjondon » Thu Nov 01, 2018 4:16 pm

Am I an Englishman?

Vienna, Vilnius, Kazan:
I think I am

I come from generations, three!
My father, father's father
and father once again -

Asylum seekers all,
each in their turn
quite separately -

Who salt accosted
and surrounded
all by sea -

Did seek and find it,
here, in London, Devon,
Derbyshire

And that's another three!
My mother, mother's mother
and mother once more -

Who chose, all three for love
to marry a man
from beyond these shores

And tossed by all the seas
of love and hate
they all did find,

within a foreign world,
a heart,
a friendly, open door

And so I ask again:
Vienna, Vilnius, Kazan -
Is that really an English man?

And Devon, London, Derbyshire -
who chose to choose someone
from somewhere else than here

Ah well, you see, to me
to cross the seas
to freely give your hand -

These are golden stamps
within the passport
of a golden land

Each choice, each act
divides
or multiplies my claim

So choose yourself,
for me,
my final name

But yes!
I think,
I am





https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=0P2mqJ5aOUw
Am I an English Man?

Vienna, Vilnius, Kazan:
I think I am.

I come from generations, three!
My father, father's father and father once again,
all asylum seekers,
each in their turn, quite separately!

Who salt accosted and
surrounded all by sea,
did seek and find it here,
in London, Devon, Derbyshire.

And that's another three!
My mother, mother's mother and mother once more,
who chose, all three for love,
to marry an alien from beyond these shores.

And tossed by all the seas of love and hate
they all did find asylum here,
within a foreign world, a heart,
a friendly open door.

And so I ask again,
Vienna, Vilnius, Kazan:
Is that really an Englishman?

And London, Devon, Derbyshire,
who chose to choose someone
from somewhere else than here?

Ah well, you see, to me,
to seek, to freely give your hand,
these all are golden stamps
within the passport of a golden land.

Each choice, each act
divides or multiplies my claim.

So choose yourself,
for me,
my final name.

But yes, I think I am.



……………………………….………………………………
S2L4 'who sought asylum here'---- 'all asylum seekers'
S3L2 - added 'seek and'
S4L5 - added 'to marry'
S7 -'Consider well and choose' --- 'So choose'



…………….……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
V3 (continued from 'my final name.)

Sacatra?

Octoroon?

A half a half a half
of God's own boon
is scarce reprisal for
such European gloom.

Or tell me if this English stain
upon my noble European brow
sets off or fouls
an English whitewashed brain?

The joke of course is that I pass,
within my head
and merely by
the colour of my arse


And if perchance my English colour
schemes were not exactly right
and all my acts and choices
standing bold in open sight?

Well then I'd wear them bold,
my golden open sign
that any golden land I choose,
by choosing me,
becomes an England truly mine.





Am I an Englishman? original)

Am I an Englishman?
I think I am.
I come from generations, three!
My father, father's father
and father again,
asylum seekers all,
each separately!
Who salt accosted and
surrounded all by sea,
did find it here.

And then, another three!
My mother, mother's mother
and mother once more,
who chose, all three, an alien
from beyond our shore.
Who washed by all
the seas of love and hate
did find, it seems, asylum
here within a foreign heart
a friendly open door.
Last edited by bjondon on Sun Apr 21, 2019 5:19 pm, edited 30 times in total.

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Re: Am I an Englishman?

Post by Mirrorball » Thu Nov 01, 2018 10:36 pm

Hi bjordon, I see you've broken it into two since I read this earlier. I'm slightly puzzled by the fact the father's sought asylum separately after arriving, I assume, on a boat whereas the mother's appear to be English already and have fallen for migrants. So nationality should be a given but N is doubting his. Hmm, maybe you're saying the mothers met the father's in their country of original and none are English.

In the final line, I'm not sure who's hearts you are referring to. I guess the mothers found asylum in the father's hearts. Hates/hearts is an intriguing half rhyme to finish on. There's a bit of padding going on 'all three' and 'it seems' but I don't have a major problem with that. I'm just not clear on what you're getting at.
Last edited by Mirrorball on Fri Nov 02, 2018 9:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Am I an Englishman?

Post by bjondon » Thu Nov 01, 2018 11:37 pm

Hi MB,
I hadn't realised it was such a puzzle.
The solution is quite simple!
Perhaps it does need an additional clue.
J

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Re: Am I an Englishman?

Post by Mirrorball » Fri Nov 02, 2018 9:19 am

Hi bjordon,

I'm probably making it into a puzzle unnecessarily. On the face of it, there's three generations of migrants each bringing a partner overseas and seeking asylum in each other. The 'hates' could be back home or over here. Love shines through.

That's my limited interpretation and N is questioning his nationality despite being a 4th generation immigrant. The asylum was separate because it was in the hearts? All of this may be a metaphor for something else.

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Re: Am I an Englishman? (revision)

Post by bjondon » Fri Nov 02, 2018 2:58 pm

Hmm . . . whether to particularise or abstract to
make this one resonate . . .your feedback very
helpful MB.

Jules

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Re: Am I an Englishman? (revision)

Post by ray miller » Fri Nov 02, 2018 5:02 pm

Are you sufficiently possessed of smugness, arrogance and a sense of white entitlement? Yes, then you're an Englishman! I exaggerate, but slightly.
I like the poem very much, especially the last version, it has more verve to it. Reminds me a bit of John Agard.

Consider well, and choose yourself
for me, my final name.

Not sure what that's all about. Are you Rumplestiltskin?
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: Am I an Englishman? (revision)

Post by JJWilliamson » Fri Nov 02, 2018 5:53 pm

I thoroughly enjoyed the revision, J, for its delightful rhythms and rhymes, and its wonderful posing of
that crucial question. "Who am I, is this who I am"?

The details were a constant hook as you progressed through the poem, even to the close, which I found
evocative, being Anglo, Scots, Irish with a definite Med look. We are all something of where we were born, I think.

Great read

JJ
Long time a child and still a child

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Re: Am I an Englishman? (revision)

Post by NotQuiteSure » Sat Nov 03, 2018 1:55 pm

.
Hi Jules.

Has something of Gilbert (as in Sullivan)
about it which appeals. But it seems a
bit cluttered (particularly the revision).
Took a while to figure out the genealogy :)

I think having the opening line repeat the
title doesn't work well. For me the question
and answer might work better as the final
couplet.

The 'I come from generations' line is
rather weak, after all, who doesn't?

Just a(n appallingly metered) sketch for fun:

Paternal generations, three,
asylum seekers, most recently,
each come here quite separately,
in search of refuge, hope and safety.

Sons of Vienna, Vilnius, Kazan
In sorrow left their their native land
Here wed for love, each one in turn
by daughters of London, Derbyshire and Devon.

So being born and being here,
being theirs and who I am,
do I have the right to cliam that
I am an Englishman?



Regards, Not.
.

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Re: Am I an Englishman? (revision)

Post by David » Sat Nov 03, 2018 7:56 pm

Yes, very good, Jules. An excellent revision.

Ray's John Agard comment is spot on, I think.

Cheers

David

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Re: Am I an Englishman? (further augmented)

Post by 1lankest » Sat Nov 03, 2018 8:46 pm

What a transformation. Great revision. Really enjoyed it.

Luke

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Re: Am I an Englishman? (further augmented)

Post by bjondon » Sat Nov 03, 2018 10:16 pm

Ray: - Big grin on my face from your kind words.
Rumplestiltskin will do fine!
Quite possibly inspired by my binge reading of John Agard
(thanks a million for the steer) I have pushed the boat out
with a further augmentation that might answer your question about the last
invitation . . . the idea was to give the reader the power to apply their
own choice of racial profile t the narrator. . . . a door opening onto a much darker
undercurrent which I think was already being implied but I have risked spelling it out.

JJ: - An even bigger grin coming to your comments!
This feels like a mini breakthrough for me . . . all done within 24hrs! (incubating for half a century!).
I just let the rhythms run, looking in a way to answer the central question with the voice of the N.
My sister has continued to demonstrate the excellent taste of my family's womenfolk
by marrying a Scotsman with an Irish/Portuguese heritage.
I will be interested to see if you think the extended version works.

Not: - Bringing me down to earth again . . . and a good thing too!
Gilbert and Sullivan is an intriguing and welcome comparison.
I have taken your advice clipping the first line.
'I come from generations, three!'
--I would justify that line as having a folksong lilt to it
which sounds at first like a brag about my sound English heritage
but is then ironised by the explanation that I mean three
generations of asylum seekers.
It is actually flattering to have you rearrange my words -
perhaps your version explains it more clearly but there is
a riddle paradigm to this that I quite like.

David: - thanks for the thumbs up . . . have I gone and spoilt it now?

Regards, Jules

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Re: Am I an Englishman? (further augmented)

Post by bjondon » Sat Nov 03, 2018 10:19 pm

Hi Luke,
I think you just caught the latest revision,
so really pleased you liked it.
Thinking of separating that final line.
Cheers, Jules

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Re: Am I an Englishman? (further augmented)

Post by David » Sun Nov 04, 2018 12:36 pm

bjondon wrote:
Sat Nov 03, 2018 10:16 pm
David: - thanks for the thumbs up . . . have I gone and spoilt it now?
Well ... yes. I think you might have done, I'm afraid.

I would go back to your first revision, which is excellent. I see that in that form, however, it's disappeared from the thread. Can you put it back, so that we can compare and contrast? (Or is it just everything in your latest version up to "for me, my final name"?)

Cheers

David

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Re: Am I an Englishman? (revised and YouTubed!)

Post by bjondon » Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:05 pm

I have ventured to record this on YouTube
I would recommend this exercise - learning a piece by
heart (or rather by brain and tongue) - then performing it
on film. It is surprising how obvious awkward corners
of logic or diction suddenly become.

Thank you for your last comment David. You are
of course absolutely right. Most of the extended version
was already implied in the first half, but I think the circle
is completed by turning it into a performance.
The slight revisions made to what was effectively V2
are listed below the piece.
J

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Re: Am I an Englishman? (revised and YouTubed!)

Post by camus » Thu Apr 11, 2019 1:00 am

Wow, what an accomplished poem and voice, quite took me by surprise.

I'm coming to this late so disregard this if it's been mentioned in the revisions but I think the opening:

"Vienna, Vilnius, Kazan:
I think I am."

Belongs as a closure.

I'll add:

And the poor old lousy old earth, my earth and my father's and my mother's and my father's father's and my mother's mother's and my father's mother's and my...et cetera...

Good stuff
C
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Re: Am I an Englishman? (revised and YouTubed!)

Post by Firebird » Thu Apr 11, 2019 9:36 am

Yes, this is terrific. Not sure how I missed it, but I’d like to nonimnate it to be a featured poem on the board. It’s fantastic and well deserved of that honour I believe.

Cheers,

Tristan

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Re: Am I an Englishman? (revised and YouTubed!)

Post by NotQuiteSure » Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:55 pm

.
Hi Jules,
like the revision and the performance.
Just a nudge or two (especially all the alls).


Am I an English Man?

Vienna, Vilnius, Kazan:
I think I am.

from generations, three!
My father, father's father and father once again,
all sought asylum,
each in their turn, quite separately!

Salt accosted and surrounded
by the sea,
they did seek and find it here,
in London, Devon, Derbyshire.

And that's another three!
My mother, mother's mother and mother once more,
who chose, all three for love,
to marry an alien from beyond these shores.
- I get 'an alien', but it makes 'beyond these shores' redundant.
(could you just cut 'an alien' ?
to marry out, beyond these shores ?)

And tossed upon seas of love and hate
they each found harbour here,
within a foreign world, a heart,
a friendly open door.
- (not sure about the order world/heart/door)

And so I ask again,
Kazan, Vilnius, Vienna:
Is that really an Englishman?

And Derbyshire, Devon, London:
who chose to choose someone
from somewhere else than here.
- (is this really a question?)

Ah well, you see, to me,
to seek, to give, freely, your hand,
these all are golden stamps
within the passport of an Englishman.

Each choice, each act
divides or multiplies my claim.

So choose yourself,
for me,
my final name.

Yes. I am.


Regards, Not.


.

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Re: Am I an Englishman? (V4)

Post by Perry » Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:33 am

Despite not understanding every line, I like the poem. It has a pleasing rhythm, and the language is warm. It has a good ending.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: Am I an Englishman? (V4)

Post by bjondon » Wed Apr 17, 2019 1:59 pm

Thanks guys! - this is definitely my best piece (and not at all typical)

Tristan - thanks for the thumbs up and the nomination - that is very encouraging

camus - big compliment - very appreciated. I wanted the focus
to widen out at the end, and great as those three patrilinear
nations sound, it feels too specific to me to end with them.

Perry - really pleased you like this one. It is a complicated story,
though I suspect a pretty common one in both the States and Britain.

Not! - just when I thought it was tied up neatly with a ribbon.
Those are actually very pertinent points . . .
'all the alls' - I've managed tocut one (from the golden stamps),
but I think they contribute something to the style (rhythm and warmth to quote Perry).

'all sought asylum' - I wanted the phrase 'asylum seekers' in there - more of a
button pressing epithet - and the inversion of 'all' : it's a little quaint, but I think it
threads into the salt accosted line better.

'alien' - yes a tautology - have changed to 'man'

'world/heart/door' - have reordered and simplified that stanza

Regards,
Jules

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Re: Am I an Englishman? (V4)

Post by NotQuiteSure » Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:29 pm

.
Hi Jules,
I'll leave you to your alls.
Just a thought on S7 (which is
improved by the 'simplification')

And tossed by all the seas
of love and hate they all did find
within a hostile world
a friendly, open door, a heart,


or

And tossed by all the seas
of love and hate they all did find
a friendly, open door, a heart,
within a hostile world

(perhaps the second 'all' could be 'each'?)
You might consider capitalising Seas,
Love, Hate.

I did think 'foreign world' was better
(and would also thread to your play with
'asylum seekers all') - unless you're trying
to stretch the cliché into hostile environment.

Regards, Not.

.

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Re: Am I an Englishman? (V4)

Post by bjondon » Fri Apr 19, 2019 6:30 pm

Thank you Not, have tweaked accordingly.
I think this might be the final version.
You were right S7 wasn't quite working.
Rather than go more concise I have expanded
a bit - now two triplets.
Hostile had its outing but have gone back
to foreign.
Jules

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Re: Am I an Englishman? (V4)

Post by NotQuiteSure » Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:44 am

.
Hi Jules,
like the triplet format (with the title and S1 making a triple)
but S4 rather stands out.
Would this work?
Who salt accosted and surrounded all
by sea did seek and find it, here -
in London, Devon, Derbyshire

Don't think all the 'withins' work in S8
maybe
within a heart
a foreign world
behind/they found a friendly, open door ?


nor the one in S11
maybe
These are golden stamps
made, impressions in a passport
from a golden land
?

And, as unwelcome as it may be, I think you might revisit the
final few stanzas: as the rest has improved they look, to me,
comparatively ragged. The ending doesn't feel like it lands
its punch. So, with that in mind

And tossed by all the seas
of love and hate
they all did find asylum here

within a heart
a foreign world
they found a friendly, open door

to me, you see,
to cross the seas
to freely give your hand -

These are glorious golden stamps
fixed impressions in a passport
from a golden land

Devon, London, Derbyshire -
They chose to choose someone
from somewhere else than here

And Each choice, each act
they made divides
or multiplies my claim

So I ask you once again:
Vienna, Vilnius, Kazan -
Is that really an English man?


Regards, Not.



.

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Re: Am I an Englishman? (V4)

Post by JJWilliamson » Sun Apr 21, 2019 7:45 am

A great revision, Jules, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

You could go on forever with this one but you're pretty much there, I'd say.
bjondon wrote:
Thu Nov 01, 2018 4:16 pm
Am I an Englishman?

Vienna, Vilnius, Kazan:
I think I am

I come from generations, three!
My father, father's father
and father once again -

Asylum seekers all,
each in their turn
quite separately -

Who salt accosted and ...I'd avoid breaking on conjunctions. It dangles there on its lonesome.
surrounded all by sea
did seek and find it, here -
in London, Devon, Derbyshire

And that's another three!
My mother, mother's mother
and mother once more -

Who chose, all three for love
to marry a man
from beyond these shores

And tossed by all the seas
of love and hate
they all did find asylum here

within a heart
within a foreign world ...Very Rupert Brooke. I like it very much. :)
a friendly, open door

And so I ask again:
Vienna, Vilnius, Kazan -
Is that really an English man?

And Devon, London, Derbyshire -
who chose to choose someone
from somewhere else than here

Ah well, you see, to me
to cross the seas
to freely give your hand -

These are golden stamps
within the passport
of a golden land

Each choice, each act
divides
or multiplies my claim

So choose yourself,
for me,
my final name

But yes!
I think
I am ...Not wishing to sound contrary, but I really like the closing strophes. There's a satisfying conclusion to the question and the beautiful rhyming. Your rhythms and rhymes throughout this revision are/were a pleasure to read.

A great poem. Top drawer!

Best

JJ
Long time a child and still a child

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Re: Am I an Englishman? (V5)

Post by bjondon » Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:16 pm

Thank you Not and JJ,
- the final lap - both your contributions just the spur I needed :)
Not :- Have gone for the full triplets, but stretching with shorter lines
rather than compressing with longer ones.
S7/8 (now 8/9) Yes, wasn't too happy with the two
withins. It's partly a question of whether the word 'asylum' is worth
squashing in. I think in the end it's not necessary..
I do like the ending - the rhythm, the shifts in tone.

JJ :- thanks for coming back, and for your enthusiastic encouragement.
The hanging 'and' - absolutely
Very chuffed by the Rupert Brooke comment (I have been reading quite a bit of
Owen, Sassoon and Graves - but not Brooke - shall rush off to find some :) )
That stanza with its two 'within's - a sort of chinese box of attachments - wasn't quite
right to my ear - tweaked just a little.
Delighted you like the closing section and the revision.
I only write for pleasure, but sometimes finishing a piece can feel a bit like
going back to school.

Regards,
Jules

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Re: Am I an Englishman? (V4)

Post by NotQuiteSure » Sun Apr 21, 2019 3:08 pm

.
Hi Jules,
within touching distance of the tape, I think.
Just two small nits.
The 'here' on its own in S5 doesn't convince
in the way that 'divides' (S15) does.
And the reprise of 'I think' in the final stanza
(to me this reads as if N hasn't changed their
position from the 'I think' at the beginning.)
Would it work as
But yes!
I am.
I am.
?

Regards, Not.

.
Last edited by NotQuiteSure on Sun Apr 21, 2019 4:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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