The Night of the Fireflies

This is a serious poetry forum not a "love-in". Post here for more detailed, constructive criticism.
Post Reply
Suzanne
Perspicacious Poster
Perspicacious Poster
Posts: 4898
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 4:46 pm
antispam: no
Location: Land of the Midnight Sun

The Night of the Fireflies

Post by Suzanne » Sat Jul 18, 2015 9:51 am

The Night of the Fireflies

You are haloed in sunset,
features fade
and skew in profile. I hold
my emptied glass tipped
to a cloudless sky to catch
the sun within its open mouth.

You toast, glass to your mouth,
and the stage is magically set-
you are the sun I will catch
after shadows fade
into one another, tipped
into the night's sure hold.

The bay glows gold as evening takes hold,
crisp chablis to my mouth,
we watch chairs tipped
upright and al fresco tables set,
feel the heat of the day fade.
Pretty girls with candled jars catch

small flames, like the catch
of a firefly in each trnasparent hold.
And all busy thoughts fade
as a jazz singer opens her mouth,
the saxophone mood is set-
and the day is tipped.

It is tipped
away from schedules and the calendar's catch,
routines set,
and minutes we could not hold.
Hope tastes fresh in my mouth,
our broken promises fade.

When the music begins to fade
and the waitress has been tipped,
you lean to me and mouth
a promise to always be here to catch
fireflies in jars for me to hold
at sunset.

My love will not fade, my sun to catch.
With fireflies in the hold, my glass will be tipped
to let every day set within its open mouth.






.

ablackfoot
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2015 7:02 pm

Re: The Night of the Fireflies

Post by ablackfoot » Sat Jul 18, 2015 12:50 pm

Seems like a very innovative structure.
The upended glass, the mouth swallowing, promising, speaking.
The candled jars.
The shadows tipping into each other perhaps like water in the hold.

I felt a strong sense of hunger translating through the text.

The poem could have been structured differently to have more velocity and forward momentum, but it stalls,
not so much stalls but leans backward, pauses. Takes in the pleasure of the evening and company.

Impressed by many lines, much of the feeling, and control.
But I think it can be improved through cutting and at least a bit of rearrangement.
I would look at the fourth and fifth stanzas because I think they're soft and don't add to the poem significantly.
They're too general in my opinion.

All in all though it was intriguing and well put together.

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

Re: The Night of the Fireflies

Post by ray miller » Sun Jul 19, 2015 2:32 pm

I was with you for 2 verses or so, then the repetition began to get irritating and it felt like I was reading a Challenge poem. Sorry.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

Ros
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 7965
Joined: Sun Dec 07, 2008 4:53 pm
antispam: no
Location: this hill-shadowed city/of razors and knives.
Contact:

Re: The Night of the Fireflies

Post by Ros » Sun Jul 19, 2015 3:00 pm

I'd have to agree with Ray here, but as you probably know I'm no fan of the form.
One of the problems I have with sestinas is that it encourages such odd line breaks and line lengths. If it wasn't a sestina, would you break on

we watch chairs tipped
upright and al fresco tables set,

tipped here? I think not. Or

routines set,
and minutes we could not hold.

Generally you've managed to avoid that problem though, and kudos for having a go!

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

User avatar
JJWilliamson
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 3299
Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2015 6:20 am

Re: The Night of the Fireflies

Post by JJWilliamson » Sun Jul 19, 2015 4:07 pm

Yay!! You've written a sestina, Suzanne. Now try a villanelle, it will drive you up the wall to Sickasaparrotdom.

This reads very much like a warm al fresco romance. The poetic touches are beautiful, as they effortlessly describe
the intimate feelings of the couple on a night that is made of dreams. The glasses, Chablis and waitress are nimble touches
that bring the scene to life. I loved the 'bay'. I was born by the sea and my wife is from the English Lake District, so water has featured strongly in my life.

I know a lot of effort has gone into the writing of this sestina and I think yours really strikes a note with its setting, romance and all.

Some observations for your deliberation:

Suzanne wrote:
Edit-

The Night of Fireflies

You are haloed in sunset,
features fade
and skew in profile. I hold
my emptied glass tipped
to a cloudless sky to catch
the sun within its open mouth. ...Love S1.

You toast, glass to your mouth, ...A sensual mouth and a glass. Quite the combination, Suzanne.
and the stage is magically set- ...Wondered about the stage being 'set'. I like it though.
you are the sun I will catch
after shadows fade
into one another, tipped
into the cool night's hold. ...an engaging second stanza. There is some ambiguity. Is it the hold of the cool night, a hold for keeping items of value in, or is the speaker being held on a cool night. I think it's the former but can't be positive. The cool night holds them?

The bay glows gold as evening takes hold,
crisp chablis to my mouth, ...Perfect description for chardonnay of Chablis, with its crisp, dry and flinty flavours. The better ones usually have a hint of oak. The less expensive ones are basically unoaked.
we watch chairs tipped
upright and el fresco tables set,
feel the heat of the day fade. ...I'd love to know the setting. I can't get Italy and the shores of Como out of my head. I saw my first fireflies and glow worms in Italy. Chablis places me in France but it's sold world wide. Is this Finland or central USA? Come on, spill 'em.
Pretty girls with candled jars catch

small flames, like the catch
of a firefly in each trnsparent hold. ... I think I understand L's 1+2 but can't be certain. Typo on 'transparent'. They're jars right?
And all busy thoughts fade
as a jazz singer opens her mouth, ...Jazz singer and saxophone places me in New Orleans. I haven't noticed the repetitions as yet and I believe that's a good indicator for an effective sestina. Jazz singers and saxophones can be found just about everywhere so take no notice of me.
a saxophone mood is set-
and the day is tipped.

It is tipped
away from schedules and calendar's catch, ...I'm not familiar with 'calendars catch'. Forgive my ignorance.
routines set,
and minutes we could not hold.
Hope tastes fresh in my mouth, ...Lovely turn of phrase.
broken promises fade. ...There's a broken promise! Tell me more. :)

When the music begins to fade
and the waitress has been tipped, ...great imagery L's 1+2.
you lean to me and mouth
a promise to always be here to catch
fireflies in jars for me to hold
at sunset. ...Can't say he's not trying. A true romantic. Definitely sounds French or Italian. Could be of French Stock. That Chablis and the potential setting of New Orleans has me in a stranglehold. Yip, could be anywhere. HELP!

My love will not fade, my sun to catch.
With fireflies in the hold, my glass will be tipped
to let every day set within its open mouth. ...delightful closing tercet.

Well there we have it. It must be stressed that I'm no expert in the writing of sestinas, so take my comments with a pinch.

Best

JJ

PS

I know what Ray means but that's how the form works. Is it possible to write a half sestina? A Tercetina. Sounds like a new Ford. :)

J
Long time a child and still a child

brianedwards
Perspicacious Poster
Perspicacious Poster
Posts: 5375
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2008 7:35 am
antispam: no
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: The Night of the Fireflies

Post by brianedwards » Mon Jul 20, 2015 1:29 am

JJWilliamson wrote:Is it possible to write a half sestina?

J
Yes. A tritina.

Kudos Suzanne. The first one is always the toughest, but think of it as poetic Pilates. The effort has done you more good than bad. Haters always gonna hate so just ignore their ignorance. Onwards.

B.

Suzanne
Perspicacious Poster
Perspicacious Poster
Posts: 4898
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 4:46 pm
antispam: no
Location: Land of the Midnight Sun

Re: The Night of the Fireflies

Post by Suzanne » Mon Jul 20, 2015 7:11 am

Thank you for the comments. I am darn proud of my first attempt at a sestina.

The repetitiousness of the form makes it very diifcult not to sound forced. Once the prossess begins, it has very difficult to edit other than light tweaks.

Writing in form is a different experience than writing free verse. I much prefer free verse to express myself but do enjoy the games of strict meter and form... In my mind it is the same as playing word games with friends.

I can not say i enjoy reading a sestina as much as i enjoyed writing it! But I did my best and appreciate your comments.

Thank you all,
Suzanne

User avatar
JJWilliamson
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 3299
Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2015 6:20 am

Re: The Night of the Fireflies

Post by JJWilliamson » Mon Jul 20, 2015 7:19 am

Liked Acoustic Shadows, Brian. Thanks for that.

JJ
Long time a child and still a child

Antcliff
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 6602
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 1:35 am
Location: At the end of stanza 3

Re: The Night of the Fireflies

Post by Antcliff » Thu Jul 23, 2015 6:40 pm

Bravo, Suzanne. Romantic sestinas eh. And I love fireflies. Thanks for reminding me.

As a poem...rather than a sestina...I wonder if the first four stanzas might stand alone? Just a thought. I know, I know, it wouldn't then be a sestina, it would only be a sest...

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

Arian
Perspicacious Poster
Perspicacious Poster
Posts: 2718
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 8:41 am
antispam: no
Location: Hertfordshire, UK

Re: The Night of the Fireflies

Post by Arian » Sun Jul 26, 2015 6:43 pm

For me, as with all sestinas, the form intrudes too much, acting as a barrier to engagement. The reader - well, this reader anyway - is always in a battle with artificiality.

Which isn't to say I didn't like it. I did. But more for some of its great lines, than the piece as a whole.

This...

my emptied glass tipped
to a cloudless sky to catch
the sun within its open mouth.

is quite simply one of the most graphic and original images I've read in aaaages. Excellent. And it's not alone.

Is the title a bit portentous? Not sure.

Cheers
p

Suzanne
Perspicacious Poster
Perspicacious Poster
Posts: 4898
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 4:46 pm
antispam: no
Location: Land of the Midnight Sun

Re: The Night of the Fireflies

Post by Suzanne » Wed Aug 05, 2015 5:55 pm

Oh! Thank you, Seth. It has been ages since i have seen a field of fireflies. I hope i get another chance in this lifetime. How easily we take beauty for granted.

Peter!! I read your reply while on holiday in the archipelogo and was elated for two days! I am aware of your preference of free verse over strict form. I must admit i agree as a reader... As a writer though, i enjoy the word play now and again.

I tried my best to not make it tedious but i think it is nearly impossible with a sestina. I suppose the best ones work with the repetition rather than try to mask it.

I agree on the title. I will definitely change it.
Thank you for your comments. Very encouraging.

Warmly,
Suzanne

Post Reply