The Edge of Understanding

This is a serious poetry forum not a "love-in". Post here for more detailed, constructive criticism.
Post Reply
Antcliff
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 6599
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 1:35 am
Location: At the end of stanza 3

The Edge of Understanding

Post by Antcliff » Mon May 27, 2013 1:59 am

(Poem for Nash)


It steps along the edge of sense,
enthralling the curious,
the seekers, the babblers,

but boring those who see it as
too close to being
merely circumscribed by air.

With one great yawn, O death,
it may just tip and fall,
the unheard splash,

grasping, far too late,
at the clarity of rock
on the plane of plain speaking.
Last edited by Antcliff on Mon May 27, 2013 6:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

joe77evans
Persistent Poster
Persistent Poster
Posts: 172
Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2013 9:34 pm

Re: The Edge of Understanding

Post by joe77evans » Mon May 27, 2013 12:31 pm

I'm a bit confused by this one... I have a lovely image of 'the edge of understanding' as being a literal edge that you could fall off, but what is this 'it' that "steps along" and "may just tip and fall"? Is it a poem?
Also, this bit:
but boring those who see it is
too close to being
merely circumscribed by air.
I can't make sense of that. Should it be "but boring those who see it as"?
or maybe "but boring those who see that it is"?
Or - what?

Antcliff
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 6599
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 1:35 am
Location: At the end of stanza 3

Re: The Edge of Understanding

Post by Antcliff » Mon May 27, 2013 12:45 pm

Hi Joe,
thanks for calling by.
I'm a bit confused by this one... I have a lovely image of 'the edge of understanding' as being a literal edge that you could fall off, but what is this 'it' that "steps along" and "may just tip and fall"? Is it a poem?
Indeed. Although it could be other literary works.

Also, this bit:
but boring those who see it is
too close to being
merely circumscribed by air.
I can't make sense of that. Should it be "but boring those who see it as"?
or maybe "but boring those who see that it is"?
Or - what?

"See it is" implies fact, "see it as" does not. I was going for the former. "Seeing as" may be the better choice though!

...the "that" could be added in, since a "that" clause is being introduced, but I am not sure it is really needed. We frequently drop the "that" of a that clause in ordinary speech. But you may be right.

I hope this helps! It may not.

Seth
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

ray miller
Perspicacious Poster
Perspicacious Poster
Posts: 6535
Joined: Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:23 am

Re: The Edge of Understanding

Post by ray miller » Mon May 27, 2013 1:25 pm

So the edge of understanding steps along the edge of sense? Edgy.
I thought it might be "boring those who see it as" too.

the unheard splash,
it may just tip and fall, - maybe reverse that order. I like the unheard splash, anyhow and lines 2 and 3 and the final couple of lines.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

Antcliff
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 6599
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 1:35 am
Location: At the end of stanza 3

Re: The Edge of Understanding

Post by Antcliff » Mon May 27, 2013 6:52 pm

Thanks, Ray.


Yes, I think I will go with Joe's "as".

Reverse those two lines. Yes, good idea.

Seth.
..splash.
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

Ros
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 7961
Joined: Sun Dec 07, 2008 4:53 pm
antispam: no
Location: this hill-shadowed city/of razors and knives.
Contact:

Re: The Edge of Understanding

Post by Ros » Thu May 30, 2013 1:50 pm

I like this - I'm reading it as appreciation (or not) of poetry (or something similar). Too many commas! I'm not so keen on the last line - the (near) repeat of plain doesn't work so well for me.

Ros
Rosencrantz: What are you playing at? Guildenstern: Words. Words. They're all we have to go on.
___________________________
Antiphon - www.antiphon.org.uk

JamesM
Prolific Poster
Prolific Poster
Posts: 398
Joined: Fri Dec 18, 2009 1:14 pm

Re: The Edge of Understanding

Post by JamesM » Thu May 30, 2013 3:23 pm

hey Seth
is it a big secret what "it" is? Reads like a peeved broadside that suffers from some of what it seems to be criticizing.

Regards
James

Antcliff
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 6599
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 1:35 am
Location: At the end of stanza 3

Re: The Edge of Understanding

Post by Antcliff » Thu May 30, 2013 3:48 pm

Thanks Ros
I'm reading it as appreciation (or not) of poetry (or something similar).


Yes, that was how it was intended. The risk the poet runs..ha! I may partly have been thinking of "Constantly Risking Absurdity" by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Thanks James,

is it a big secret what "it" is? Reads like a peeved broadside that suffers from some of what it seems to be criticizing.
Well, it was intended to playfully display the very thing it talks about. :D (Quite a few of my poems refer to themselves in various ways, or deliberately display something connected with the subject matter. Perhaps because I like things like the Liar Paradox).

Not intended as any sort of broadside, peeved or otherwise, no. I dimly recall once talking about Bunting and saying that reading him was like being constantly on the edge of understanding (headache inducing sometimes). Our Mr Nash is mentioned because he just happened to recently refer to a poem and joke about a line that rather tips it over the edge of understanding. No poem in particular was the subject.

Seth
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

ljordan
Persistent Poster
Persistent Poster
Posts: 161
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2012 3:30 pm

Re: The Edge of Understanding

Post by ljordan » Thu May 30, 2013 8:57 pm

I'm liking this too. Any moment of contemplation wins me over. What if you were to replace the opening 'it' with 'A word nears the edge of sense?' It clears that vague pool and lets you revise the title which sounds a bit grandiloquent.

The poem's conclusion could be debated that grasping for the clarity of a rock drowns us in 'plain speech' which the poem does not quite say. Just a thought.

larry

Antcliff
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 6599
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 1:35 am
Location: At the end of stanza 3

Re: The Edge of Understanding

Post by Antcliff » Fri May 31, 2013 7:30 pm

Thanks very much, Larry.
What if you were to replace the opening 'it' with 'A word nears the edge of sense?' It clears that vague pool and lets you revise the title which sounds a bit grandiloquent.
Good idea!
The poem's conclusion could be debated that grasping for the clarity of a rock drowns us in 'plain speech' which the poem does not quite say. Just a thought.
Agreed, yes.

Seth
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

Post Reply