The Mists of Lyme

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JohnLott
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The Mists of Lyme

Post by JohnLott » Mon Oct 24, 2011 9:24 pm

On a Dorset hill across the way
Regency, red bricked and grand
and standing on a land where oak in majesty
ruled grass into belittlement,
a house of gabled ends and chimney pots
shrugged off the wind,
unlike fluttering crows who,
as autumnal leaves,
littered that space between crowns and sky;

a house where mothers birthed
kids squawked and the old and weary coughed
and went to their heaven in a hearse.

Along the hall, oak panelled in linenfold,
feet trod where others had
and for years ground tracks in the large slate squares.
Shapes floating through the gloom, past the stairs,
to the Drawing Room
where the family went for tea, to talk and sit around.

In the kitchen, cook helped himself
to yesterday’s undrunk zinfandel
to wash a slice of jugged hare pie
while he watched the close clipped yew
powder her freckled face;

and shadows moved mysteriously
across the fields and the ragged hedged trees
as robbers stole the day.
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dedalus
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Re: The Mists of Lyme

Post by dedalus » Tue Oct 25, 2011 4:04 pm

Well, now I can see you in the phases and strains of your own composition. I think it's pretty clear what you are trying to do but it doesn't quite come off because you get lost between the conflicting demands of scene-setting, structure, and the enormous perils of heightened language. You get stuck halfway between telling a story and trying to make it sound like a poem. This is not quite as heartless and cruel as it may sound because the simple fact is you can't do both ... unless you are on a level with Milton, Pope and Dryden. Not too sure about Pope. Why do you think I'm getting kicked around the block ? I've decided to go with the stories and bedamned with the special language. You have a basic story going here, a scene if you like: an old country house in Dorset with the countryside encroaching from all sides and the years sliding by, but then you go into all this folderol about oaks in majesty, belittled grass, autumnal leaves, riding off to heaven in a hearse, close clipped yews powdering their freckled faces, and so on. Just tell the story: here's the fuckin house, here's the fuckin countryside, here's the fuckin crows, here's the fuckin cook getting drunk, and here's fuckin me in the here and now. Ah, za connection!

There's no need to listen to me. I'm just an idiot with a failing memory (Christ! That was embarrassing about the leg waver but I honestly had no recollection. Serious shit, boy.) Anyway, what I'm saying is don't write "poetry". Write what you want to say and then gussy it up with a coupla metaphors, a coupla fancy words here and there, a sprinkling of salt & pepper. Whatever happens, stay with the story-line.

I'm not having a go at you. I have NO interest in writing crits, which has nearly got me thrown off this forum several times. Rules are rules, I understand that, but I either like what people write or I don't. When I don't like it I generally say nothing. When I like something I say "jolly good" or "yesss!!" but this doesn't apparently count as a crit. In your case I have written a fair few dozen words. Take it as a measure of my respect and concern.

Brendan

JohnLott
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Re: The Mists of Lyme

Post by JohnLott » Tue Oct 25, 2011 7:11 pm

Thanks Brendan,
I understand what you are saying and have no problem with that.
Your take on the story is back to front, however.

I was sitting in my car, having lunch and looking across a valley to a notable red bricked, Edwardian house standing in its 'cultured' grounds. It was a very windy day and the crows and the autumnal leaves 'littered' the sky. As I watched and appreciated the expansive landscape, the Lyme Regis mists rolled in from the sea and soon I could see less than twenty yards. That was the truth of it and to that I added a fantasy of what might be happening, had happened, in that house; like a time warp.

8)

J.

I'm posting something light now, for you to chuckle over, I hope.
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dedalus
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Re: The Mists of Lyme

Post by dedalus » Tue Oct 25, 2011 8:09 pm

I was sitting in my car, having lunch and looking across a valley to a notable red bricked, Edwardian house standing in its 'cultured' grounds. It was a very windy day and the crows and the autumnal leaves 'littered' the sky. As I watched and appreciated the expansive landscape, the Lyme Regis mists rolled in from the sea and soon I could see less than twenty yards. That was the truth of it and to that I added a fantasy of what might be happening, had happened, in that house; like a time warp.
This is the real poem, John, not the one you have written. Try to see it again through your eyes on that day, every last detail you can remember, the wind and the weather, the car you were in, the smell of its interior, the ticking of its cooling engine, how many crows did you see, what did you see out of the edge of your eyes, what were you thinking then, what are you thinking now ? The smell of things, the feelings you had. This is England. Is this my England?

Poetry is a way of seeing things definitively, all the passing sights and impressions that cross our racing minds, putting the right words on them, and NAILING the moments down!

Brendan

JohnLott
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Re: The Mists of Lyme

Post by JohnLott » Sun Oct 30, 2011 12:33 pm

Sorry Brendan - seemed to have missed your post.

Never occurred to me to go from car and sandwich to the fog.
Something to think about. My initial reaction is it's not me - but then you don't learn if you don't try.
So I'll mull your suggestion over and see where it goes

Thanks

J.
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emuse
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Re: The Mists of Lyme

Post by emuse » Mon Nov 28, 2011 4:09 am

Your title caught me as I just spent a week in Lyme. I've yet to write about it but your description offers a magical sense of things. I took the River Walk with a friend and spent hours in those mists.

I can't add to Brendan's good advice but I can encourage you to revise this. It's truly the trick to create a lyrical narrative but there are contemporary poets out there doing it. That's probably the best track -- find contemporary poets who are achieving this and see how it's done.

Looking forward to revisiting this.

E

JohnLott
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Re: The Mists of Lyme

Post by JohnLott » Mon Nov 28, 2011 4:32 pm

Thanks E.
Do you have any names for me?

8)

J.
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Re: The Mists of Lyme

Post by Arian » Mon Nov 28, 2011 8:26 pm

Personally, John, I think s1/2 is as good a stanza as I’ve seen from you. I really like its assertive rhythm and evocative-but-accessible expression. The sonics of:

red bricked and grand
and standing on a land

are excellent – a technique you don’t want to overuse, as it’s like eating too much chocolate, but you certainly use it well here, to my mind.


Cheers
peter

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Re: The Mists of Lyme

Post by JohnLott » Mon Nov 28, 2011 10:01 pm

Thank you Peter.
Re-assuring.
I still have to consider where I go with the rest of it.
At the moment I'm thinking of losing S3.
Thinking hurts....

8)

J.
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