Among the mummies

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Among the mummies

Post by David » Mon Feb 23, 2015 8:21 pm

Beneath the bland expressionlessness
of the gilded mask,
trussed up inside the brightly painted
closely written cask -

addressed, presumably,
to the gang in the World of the Dead
by whom such tiny parcels
are received and distributed -

the CT scan displays a boy
of two, one going on two,
with what looks like a jutting lower lip.
Don't want to.

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Re: Among the mummies

Post by JJWilliamson » Mon Feb 23, 2015 10:30 pm

Hi David

I enjoyed this poem and smiled at the close. It would seem the years have failed to calm childish petulance. Yip, I liked that close.
S1 'expressionlessness' is something of a tongue twister, it took me about five minutes before I could get near it and yet I suspect this was a deliberate word choice; It certainly got my attention. The 'gilded mask' suggests Egyptian aristocracy or someone belonging to a prominent family. I enjoyed all of strophe 2 and have no suggestions for you. S3 'I don't want to' could be in italics, to emphasize the child's speech. The lower lip could be alluding to sulkiness or the deformities that existed at these times due to their belief that brother's best. I suspect the former. Ah! it could also be that the child does not wish to be killed as part of the burial ritual. Maybe not.

A clever poem. I look forward to reading how other writers view this piece. Hope this crit' helps.

Best

JJ


David wrote:Beneath the bland expressionlessness
of the gilded mask,
trussed up inside the brightly painted
closely written cask -

addressed, presumably,
to the gang in the World of the Dead
by whom such tiny parcels
are received and distributed -

the CT scan displays a boy
of two, one going on two,
with what looks like a jutting lower lip.
Don't want to.
Long time a child and still a child

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Re: Among the mummies

Post by Firebird » Tue Feb 24, 2015 1:19 pm

David, I think the abruptness of the final line makes it sound a little humorous, but I also felt it was somehow sad, too: I did think the child was being mummified against his will (jutting lower lip).

I agree about the word 'expressionlessness' being a bit of a tongue-twister. Maybe another word may be better here?

I wish I had more to say, but it reads very well and I think it also works well.

Sorry I can't be of more help.

All my best,

Firebird

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Re: Among the mummies

Post by David » Tue Feb 24, 2015 4:30 pm

Hi JJ and Firebird (anything else we can call you?),

Thanks for those comments. I appreciate them.
JJWilliamson wrote:S1 'expressionlessness' is something of a tongue twister
I don't think it's a tongue twister myself, but it is five syllables, and it's always good to avoid them. (They're at least two over par.)

And you're both right, the "Don't want to" is supposed to be the bit where I tugs yer heartstrings. It certainly tugged mine at the time. (Yes, possibly better in italics.)

Cheers

David

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Re: Among the mummies

Post by k-j » Tue Feb 24, 2015 9:32 pm

It took until the second reading for my recalcitrant heartstrings to vibrate, but I feel better now they've done so.

"Bland expressionlessness" - rather tautological?

Unfortunately you lose the rhyme a bit with the weak "distributed" but I can't think of a good way to fix it.

"Two, one going on two" sounds like filler for the metre, at least I don't see what it adds. How about "of no more than one or two"?

The ending, now that I "get it" is very good. What culture are we looking at here, is it Egyptian or one of the many other mummy-making cultures? I ask because you might be able to name the Land of the Dead in line 6 and open up a different line 8 ending that way.
fine words butter no parsnips

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Re: Among the mummies

Post by Ros » Tue Feb 24, 2015 10:14 pm

k-j wrote:It took until the second reading for my recalcitrant heartstrings to vibrate, but I feel better now they've done so.
.
Excellent crit!
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Re: Among the mummies

Post by ChrisGeorge » Wed Feb 25, 2015 5:34 am

Hi David

I love the life-like pout of the lad at the end of the piece which makes a crowning moment for an enticing poem. Fine work. Much enjoyed.

I wrote a poem about a mummy some years ago and your poem reminds me of my old creation. I will try to locate it and either post it or message it to you.

Best regards

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Re: Among the mummies

Post by bodkin » Thu Feb 26, 2015 11:04 am

Hi David,

I didn't get into this on the first read but am now coming to like it very much.

I think the problem with "distributed" is that sometime people say "diSTRIButed" and sometimes "distriBUTEd" and think only the former works with this rhythm.

Enjoyable, esp. the ending!

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Re: Among the mummies

Post by Antcliff » Fri Feb 27, 2015 2:19 pm

Nice ending indeed.
No crits. Although I would not miss the "...lessness" if it were cut.

Seth
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Re: Among the mummies

Post by Macavity » Fri Feb 27, 2015 5:36 pm

bland expressionlessness
Pleased to see the expression in a poem rather than a response to one of my efforts :)

brightly/closely - a bit telly rather than showy?

The directness of the ending was a very effective contrast to the form of the longer sentence. Also liked reading trussed/addressed and mask/cask and...expressionlessness (though a challenge!)

all the best

mac

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Re: Among the mummies

Post by Elphin » Fri Feb 27, 2015 5:55 pm

Thumbs up from me. I like structure and you have it in spades - rhyme and metre but neither overpower the poem.

Fantastic ending - I am imagining all the mummification, the trinkets and ceremony to speed his way to the land of the dead and he "doesn't want to" go there

Nit - "one going on two" seems a clumsy way of saying "another almost two" which is more natural but too many beats I suspect.

Saw some mummies in Kelvingrove Art Gallery today, on loan from British Museum and they reminded me of this.

Bravo

elph

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Re: Among the mummies

Post by Arian » Sun Mar 01, 2015 12:56 pm

Antcliff wrote:I would not miss the "...lessness" if it were cut.

Seth
Et moi. And k-j has a point too, about 'bland'.

Otherwise, very good. Enjoyed it a lot - especially the last line which took me a couple of takes, but I enjoyed it when it clicked!

Cheers
peter

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Re: Among the mummies

Post by David » Sun Mar 01, 2015 7:58 pm

k-j wrote:It took until the second reading for my recalcitrant heartstrings to vibrate, but I feel better now they've done so.
Good!
k-j wrote:"Bland expressionlessness" - rather tautological?
Yes. Now you mention it. Darn it.
k-j wrote:Unfortunately you lose the rhyme a bit with the weak "distributed" but I can't think of a good way to fix it.
Actually, I have an idea about that. I'll have another think about it.
k-j wrote:"Two, one going on two" sounds like filler for the metre, at least I don't see what it adds.
It's rhyme-driven, not metre-driven - it's an awkward and contrived way of giving me my last line rhyme. Not sure how defensible that it, but I have must have that last line.

Cheers, k-j. (Great to finally meet you!)

David

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Re: Among the mummies

Post by David » Sun Mar 01, 2015 8:35 pm

Hi Chris. Glad you liked that. Let us see your mummy poem!
bodkin wrote:Enjoyable, esp. the ending!
Great. Thanks, Ian. (And see my comment to k-j - which, of course, goes for Ros as well. And you, Peter!)

And thank you, Seth. (We've met before, of course.)
Macavity wrote:
bland expressionlessness
Pleased to see the expression in a poem rather than a response to one of my efforts :)
Too self-deprecating, Mac! I like your poems. You know that, I hope. Not always unreservedly, perhaps, but ... “ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?" And I do like 'em. (Glad you like this.)

Thank you very much, Elph.
Elphin wrote:Nit - "one going on two" seems a clumsy way of saying "another almost two" which is more natural but too many beats I suspect.
This is a weak spot in the poem, I think, but perhaps forgiveable because it sets up the last line. But here I'm trying to qualify the age of the child previously described as two. There's only one child in there. That might not have come across. It was oddly - what am I saying? not oddly at all - moving, seeing that image.

http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/e ... lives.aspx

And thank you, Peter. (See above! Vanessa was pleased to have a fellow poetry non-swimmer to sit on the side with.) Must think about that first line again.

Cheers all

David

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Re: Among the mummies

Post by Arian » Mon Mar 02, 2015 7:25 pm

David wrote:Vanessa was pleased to have a fellow poetry non-swimmer to sit on the side with.
Thanks, David. Sharon, too. But she enjoyed dangling her feet in the water. Nice to meet you both (and everyone else!)
p

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Re: Among the mummies

Post by ray miller » Tue Mar 03, 2015 5:54 pm

brightly painted closely written cask - and no word from Elphin on an excess of modifiers!
I love the gang, I wonder if shared is a better rhyme for Dead than distributed.

of two, one going on two, - I read that you're trying to qualify the child's age. Wouldn't of one going on two do so more clearly?
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: Among the mummies

Post by Elphin » Tue Mar 03, 2015 8:32 pm

David is a lost cause on the modifier front, Ray :D

I fear I am becoming a bore on the subject!

Cheers

elph

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Re: Among the mummies

Post by David » Mon Mar 09, 2015 3:37 pm

Sorry for the belated reply here.

Agh, slightly over-modified, Ray (and Elph), I agree. Slightly marginally, anyway.

Instead of the dubious "distributed", I was wondering about bringing in some use of keeping your head, as - I discovered at the exhibition - decapitation is one of the things the Egyptian dead had to look out for.
ray miller wrote:of two, one going on two, - I read that you're trying to qualify the child's age. Wouldn't of one going on two do so more clearly?
You're right. I'm sort of playing fast and loose with the facts - the exhibition clearly stated the child was two, so I'm equivocating (for the rhyme! Unforgiveable) - but perhaps I shouldn't let that bother me.

Cheers

David

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Re: Among the mummies

Post by bodkin » Mon Mar 09, 2015 4:22 pm

David wrote:Instead of the dubious "distributed", I was wondering about bringing in some use of keeping your head, as - I discovered at the exhibition - decapitation is one of the things the Egyptian dead had to look out for.
Have you seen any documentation of the spells in the book of the dead? They are wonderfully phrased, things like:

Spell for not being eaten by wild animals in the land of the dead.
Spell for not having to eat dung in the land of the dead.
Spell for not being dead in the land of the dead.

The last paints some especially wonderful images...

Ian
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Re: Among the mummies

Post by ray miller » Mon Mar 09, 2015 5:29 pm

Actually, I like brightly painted closely written cask. I only fear for Elphin's sensibilities.

the CT scan displays a boy
of two, one going on two, - it's needlessly difficult, I think

the CT scan displays a child,
a boy of going on two
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: Among the mummies

Post by Elphin » Tue Mar 10, 2015 8:29 am

:D

Whisper it, Ray, I like it too. Fickle, me, never!

elph

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Re: Among the mummies

Post by Antcliff » Tue Mar 10, 2015 2:43 pm

t
he CT scan displays a boy
of two, one going on two,
The reason I prefer this is that it adds a sharpening of the first judgement, suggesting that N is looking closer, getting more engaged. Fitting I think as N becomes more struck by the humanity?

Seth
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Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

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Re: Among the mummies

Post by bodkin » Tue Mar 10, 2015 5:00 pm

Antcliff wrote:t
he CT scan displays a boy
of two, one going on two,
The reason I prefer this is that it adds a sharpening of the first judgement, suggesting that N is looking closer, getting more engaged. Fitting I think as N becomes more struck by the humanity?

Seth
FWIW I didn't have a problem with the original phrasing...

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Re: Among the mummies

Post by David » Tue Mar 10, 2015 8:15 pm

Antcliff wrote:
the CT scan displays a boy
of two, one going on two,
The reason I prefer this is that it adds a sharpening of the first judgement, suggesting that N is looking closer, getting more engaged. Fitting I think as N becomes more struck by the humanity?
Oh good. That is encouraging, and kind of the idea. If I don't have to change it ...
bodkin wrote:Have you seen any documentation of the spells in the book of the dead? They are wonderfully phrased, things like:

Spell for not being eaten by wild animals in the land of the dead.
Spell for not having to eat dung in the land of the dead.
Spell for not being dead in the land of the dead.
I haven't, although it was sort of part of 60s culture, wasn't it? A Beatles song, maybe? Not sure. And they are terrific spells.

Hurrah for Elph's sensibilities!

Cheers all

David

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Re: Among the mummies

Post by Ros » Tue Mar 10, 2015 9:32 pm

I think the spells are from the Egyptian book of the dead, rather earlier than tbe 1960s.

I liked the one going on two too.

Ros
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