Song of the empty fisherman

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Song of the empty fisherman

Post by IainMichaelBryan » Fri Aug 15, 2014 8:20 pm

where have you gone
blue flaming fish?
our tides are low to the deep weed shelf
swiftly come by my silver troll
the sun is high on this empty dish

where do you go
oh, shining mackerel mine?
when my belly rolls like the shingle tide
here is samphire, wild garlic and lemons awaiting
and sizzling butter and cool green wine

where are you going
on glittering fins?
to idly peck crumbs of spawn in the deep?
to risk the otter's deathly flourish?
come feasting now and shed your troubled skin

where are you
hookless flimsy dullard? where are you, crabbit treacher-tail?
this pan is charred with tasteless remnants
my furred tongue aches with cursing bladderwrack
the laughing sea around my knees has taken this useless rod and pail

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Re: Song of the empty fisherman

Post by k-j » Sat Aug 16, 2014 4:42 am

Hello Ian. I like much of this, the reticent rhyme scheme especially.

I also like the way most lines follow but are slightly disconnected from the one before.

The rhyme of fish with dish is slightly corny/nursery-rhymey perhaps? I think it would be better to name the kind of fish here, instead of "fish". Choose whatever kind of fish you can rhyme with some plate or table or cooking thing in line 5...

"Oh, shining mackerel mine" is OK, but I struggle a bit with the unnaturalness of it, even though it fits alright with the voice here. So it's a mackerel - you know you might get away with naming mackerel in line 2 and saying "table" in line 5?

Samphire is something I've only ever eaten in poems. Do you really cook it with fish? If so, carry on, if not, how about fennel?

"Where are you going / on glittering fins" I'm afraid reminds me of "My Lovely Horse"... "where are you going / with your fetlocks flowing". Definitely a minority complaint but still...

I think "peck" implies "idly" to some extent.

"Deathly" (or deadly) is implied by the otter's flourish. You should use a graceful adjective here, or none. "Otter's flourish" by itself is OK.

I love "crabbit treacher-tail" although don't know what "treacher" means. good last verse, but I think the rhythm is better if you change "this useless" for "my".
fine words butter no parsnips

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Re: Song of the empty fisherman

Post by Antcliff » Sat Aug 16, 2014 1:06 pm

Hi Iain.

With K-J I enjoyed most of this. It has a nice lively quality. And I like the theme. :D

Also with K-J, I would reach for the axe with "mackerel mine". It seems too obviously a forced shift for the purposes of the rhyme. Unless of course a mackerel mine has been discovered.

Glittering fins? Are the fins glittery?...I thought it was the backs? (Seth looks in fridge, but finds none.)

"belly rolls like the shingle tide". Not sure I quite grasp this. The belly rolls?

Enjoyed it...
....and three cheers for samphire. Not sure about the green wine though.
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

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Re: Song of the empty fisherman

Post by David » Mon Aug 18, 2014 7:00 pm

Yep, I have pretty much the same plaudits - and the same quibbles - as k-j and Seth. Very assured and enjoyable. And pleasingly distinctive.



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Re: Song of the empty fisherman

Post by Mic » Tue Aug 19, 2014 12:36 pm

Hi Iain,

My thoughts on this before looking at other critiques:

It's a bit of a 'curate's egg' for me - some nice lines, a good atmosphere, interesting voice, but... it doesn't go anywhere (and I'm not sure that is a 'but'), and there is some awkwardness to the phrasing in places (e.g. 'here is samphire, wild garlic and lemons awaiting' - and the rhythm is off with this line).

But, for me, it does have something.

"Do not feel lonely, the entire universe is inside you" - Rumi

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Re: Song of the empty fisherman

Post by Richard » Thu Aug 21, 2014 6:33 pm

This has a slightly classic, lyrical feel to it, decorative and traditional. I sort of like that and resist it at the same time. Overall, though I think this is to be appluaded as a piece of writing. The others comments on nits and things I end to agree with. Some work to do, but not that much and worth it...

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Re: Song of the empty fisherman

Post by IainMichaelBryan » Fri Aug 22, 2014 8:39 pm

Many thanks to all for your comments, and apologies for not responding sooner - I have been away and wifi-less.

k-j, I agree that 'fish/dish' is a wee bit obvious a rhyme, however I find it difficult to axe 'blue flaming fish'. Samphire does grow along parts of the shore near where I try to fish, and is lovely with fresh mackerel. I keep hens, which sometimes peck idly, sometimes savagely, and often frantically. 'Deathly' I am thinking over, and 'treacher' I have adulterated from treacherous.

Both Seth and yourself are quite right about 'shining mackerel mine', which I will adjust.

Seth, their fins are glittery with water droplets for a moment, if you are lucky enough to catch one. My 'belly rolls' with the sound of hunger.

Mic, this is supposed to be fairly light and tongue-in-cheek, so I am not sure where else it needs to go beyond the building frustration of an expectant, but disappointed angler. That said, I would have liked another verse, but it didn't arrive. Yet. The awkwardness is deliberate though to give that sense of plummeting blood sugar and mood.

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