Effigy of an Empire

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brianedwards
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Effigy of an Empire

Post by brianedwards » Tue Feb 25, 2014 3:53 am

Effigy of an Empire

Legs must be cut from Roman roads,
add battleships for feet. Make arms

from seaside promenades and hands
from golden bowls that held the seven seas.

Hadrian's Wall will yield a sturdy spine.
Colonies laid out in strips will bridge

sand bag lungs and cow tongue heart
as well as any rib. Make hair from whips

and green and pleasant land. Use coal
for eyes and gold for teeth and stuff

with maps, charters, pidgins and creoles.
Light with torches of rag and oil.








~

EDITS

~ Added comma to end of L1 and replaced "with" with "add".
~ Previous title: "Effigy for an Empire"

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Jackie
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Re: Effigy for an Empire

Post by Jackie » Tue Feb 25, 2014 9:49 am

Brian, asking students to react to this would make a great end-of-unit exam question!

And green and pleasant land seems a little weaker than the other references. Maybe you could use a battleground, such as and wheat from the Hungarian Plain?

Even though I know that you wouldn't use stuff so colloquially (as a noun), I'm startled by and gold for teeth and stuff at the end of a line. Could stop your sentence at teeth and begin again? Just a thought.

I need to do some more thinking on this. I reckon that to set up an empire in effigy and burn it is to express hatred for all it produced? Probably just missing the point.

Jackie

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Re: Effigy for an Empire

Post by Jayne » Tue Feb 25, 2014 3:46 pm

I really like this, Brian :) Such an original idea.

The two-line stanzas are an apt choice for what is essentially a set of instructions.

The rhythm is really crafted.

Jayne

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Re: Effigy for an Empire

Post by Antcliff » Tue Feb 25, 2014 8:57 pm

I like this, Brian. Nice idea.

In fact it could have gone on for me.

I wonder..why is it "for" an empire rather than "of"?

Have not understood this line as yet..
Colonies laid out in strips will bridge
sand bag lungs and cow tongue heart
as well as any rib.
They may, but why
sand bag
lungs and
cow tongue
heart? I am missing something here at the mo.

Again, enjoyed this..

Seth
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
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Re: Effigy for an Empire

Post by Ros » Tue Feb 25, 2014 9:27 pm

I have Seth's queries. This is very good, though it feels a bit odd that it seems to be aimed at empires generally, which is rather a wide target, rather than a specific one.

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Nash

Re: Effigy for an Empire

Post by Nash » Tue Feb 25, 2014 9:41 pm

I like the idea of this too, you've got some terrific images, but there are a few things that are not quite right for me at the moment.

My first thought was that the opening line isn't the strongest and perhaps you could rejig it to bring a stronger image up front. But then I realised (...and you've used this comment on one of mine before, so I know it's a good one) what a delicate house of cards you've built. Very difficult to just shuffle these images around.

I'm wondering about Hadrian's Wall as the spine. It could just be me, but isn't it a bit horizontal for a spine? But then, as you've used it for its geo-political context, I can't really think of a substitute.

As Jackie said, that line break on 'stuff' is an odd one. I think I like it though.

Nash.

p.s. Shouldn't the title be Effigy of an Empire?

ray miller
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Re: Effigy for an Empire

Post by ray miller » Tue Feb 25, 2014 10:07 pm

I like it very much. I find the various comments fascinating too. I love the opening sentence, battleships for feet - that is truly inspired.

Make arms

from seaside promenades and hands
from golden bowls that held the seven seas. - the weak part of the poem for me. The line is too long. I'd suggest omitting seven but you still have the repeat of sea.
Perhaps it don't matter.

Colonies laid out in strips will bridge - I'd omit out

Use coal
for eyes and gold for teeth and stuff

with maps, charters, pidgins and creoles.
Light with torches of rag and oil. - best part of a very good poem for me. Don't understand why some have a problem with stuff
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: Effigy for an Empire

Post by brianedwards » Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:21 pm

Thanks all. Of course I agree with Ray mostly :wink:

Seriously, found remnants of this in an old notebook and thought I'd give it another whirl. Can't really explain the thinking behind some of the lines, but I quite like how they sound. Will give all your queries and suggestions some thought while considering revisions.

B.

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Re: Effigy for an Empire

Post by 1lankest » Wed Feb 26, 2014 9:57 am

I agree with Ray, too, except I have no problem with this line:
'from golden bowls that held the seven seas'.

I also agree with Ros about the title, and it much better for the revision.
Love the poem, Brian.

Luke

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Re: Effigy for an Empire

Post by Richard » Sun Mar 02, 2014 5:35 pm

Very nice indeed. Green and pleasant lands the only bit that jarred t all. Some really extraordinary ideas in here. I really like it a lot.

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Re: Effigy for an Empire

Post by Elphin » Mon Mar 03, 2014 4:52 pm

I knew this was good but I just couldn't get past the first line. Now I realise I was parsing wrongly --- I thought the Roman Roads had battleships for feet which was just too surreal for me.

Hows about,

Legs must be cut from Roman roads,
add battleships for feet. Make arms

I agree with what Seth and Ros said.

Could you swap the Roman roads and Hadrian's wall to address Nash's point?

A very good piece of work -- its original.

Derek

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Re: Effigy of an Empire

Post by brianedwards » Wed Mar 05, 2014 1:49 am

Thanks for further comments. Funny Derek, until you flagged it up I never read it that way about the roads having feet. Now I can't hear it any other way! So, I'll take you up on your suggestion, cheers. Changed the title too, as per previous comments.

B.

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Re: Effigy of an Empire

Post by nottslinnet » Wed Mar 05, 2014 11:57 am

Well - this is a "rum un" as we say round here. Not sure I understand any of it, tho the early lines are quite nice, before it goes off the boil - the whole bit about cow heart appears to just be a selection of words jumbled in a bag and picked out randomly.

What are the golden bowls a reference to? I was half-minded to think of Drake - the Golden Hind and the playing of bowls - but I'm sure that's not it. Britain at the start of Empire would be anything but golden. neither in terms of wealth, nor in terms of a 'golden' climate.

Surely Britain has its own spine in the Pennines - Hadrians Wall is more of a collar.

Creole is a french-based language and I'm not sure what relevance that has to what appears to be something about Britain?

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Re: Effigy of an Empire

Post by brianedwards » Wed Mar 05, 2014 2:26 pm

Ta.

B.

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Re: Effigy of an Empire

Post by MikeAcker » Thu Mar 06, 2014 2:21 am

I like this piece. The imagery is stunning.

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