Insomnia: a sovereign remedy

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Insomnia: a sovereign remedy

Post by David » Sun Nov 13, 2016 8:44 pm

BRUTAL REVISION

They come shambling past for my review:
Plantagenets, the useless German Georges,
a clutch of Henrys, and a rutting crew
of ill-assorted Edwards and their urges.

The morning sends them sullenly away
to languish in their books. The breaking news
is messier, a doleful matinée.
No wonder if it's history that I choose.

IMPROVED REVISION (I HOPE)

Lying awake, in the untethered hours
between the night's dark reaches and the day,
my humdrum destination, my recourse
is to the English kings: a panoply
of dates and thumbnail sketches. I review
Plantagenets,the useless German Georges,
the mulch of Passchendaele and Waterloo,
the glorious dead and their inglorious hearses.

History is so clean. Its patina
of finishedness suggests that things have turned
out for the best at last. The breaking news
is messier, its outcome more uncertain.
A hospital is bombed. Hundreds are drowned.
No wonder if it's history that I choose.

REVISION

Lying awake, in the uncertain hours
between the night's dark reaches and the day,
quotidianly welcome, my recourse
is cottages and kings, a panoply
of dates and thumbnail sketches. I review
Plantagenets,the useless German Georges,
the mulch of Passchendaele and Waterloo,
the glorious dead and their inglorious hearses.

History is so clean. Its patina
of finishedness suggests that things have turned
out for the best at last. The breaking news
is messier, a doleful matinée
of cities drowned and all our bridges burned.
No wonder if it's history that I choose.

ORIGINAL

Lying awake, in the uncertain hours
between the night's dark reaches and the day
(quotidianly welcome), my recourse
is to the kings of England: panoply
of dates and thumbnail sketches. I review
Plantagenets,the useless German Georges,
the mulch of Passchendaele and Waterloo,
the glorious dead and their inglorious hearses.

History is so clean. Its patina
of finishedness suggests that things have turned
out for the best at last. The breaking news
is messier, a gruesome matinée
of hopes unsprung, of harmonies untuned.
No wonder if it's history that I choose.

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Re: Insomnia: a sovereign remedy

Post by k-j » Mon Nov 14, 2016 2:59 am

Terrific sonnet! Love "the uncertain hours" and "the useless German Georges". "Mulch" is a great word in this context too. And line eight is simply a great line in the sonnet tradition.

Line nine misses a beat, as I'm sure you know, but it jarred with me on first reading and continues to. "Hopes unsprung" - seems odd - is it a play on "spring" (Arab spring etc) or are hopes a trap? Likewise "harmonies untuned". Harmonies of course can be disrupted, played poorly etc., but "untuned" doesn't really mean anything I think.

Last line is fantastic.

At first I wasn't sure about "hours / recourse" but it's good as is the rhyme generally. "Patina / matinée" doesn't ring true though.
fine words butter no parsnips

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Re: Insomnia: a sovereign remedy

Post by Ros » Tue Nov 15, 2016 9:04 am

hmm. this one isn't working for me.
I know the sort of historical summary you mean, and if you continued gently mocking that, that would be ok, but you turn general:

History is so clean. Its patina
of finishedness

I'd say most views of history are pretty much the opposite of this - there's plenty of arguments about what actually happened, what motives were, how much we don't know. Anything but clean and finished, really!

of hopes unsprung, of harmonies untuned.

is surprisingly unspecific for you - hopes and harmonies? made me wince a bit...

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Re: Insomnia: a sovereign remedy

Post by Antcliff » Tue Nov 15, 2016 11:46 am

I realise it rather messes with the sonnet structure, but I wanted the poem to start at "my recourse"? The first two lines are implicit enough in the title?

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

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Re: Insomnia: a sovereign remedy

Post by David » Wed Nov 16, 2016 7:46 pm

Thanks, k-j. Glad you liked it.

I do think there is some point to Ros's and Seth's strictures, though. I think I got too serious, where I should have stayed whimsical (or frivolous), in lines 7 and 8.

Patina actually came first, as the word I wanted, and I thought matinée was a great rhyme! I could be wrong.

But history is "clean" because we know - within the usual parameters - what happens, or "how it came out". The result of the Wars of the Roses is hardly going to hurt anyone now. The breaking news, though ... less so.

Those last six lines do need some tweaking, though.
Antcliff wrote:I realise it rather messes with the sonnet structure, but I wanted the poem to start at "my recourse"? The first two lines are implicit enough in the title?
I just finished a sonnet, Seth! Don't take it away from me!

Oh okay, I'll think about it.

Cheers all

David

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Re: Insomnia: a sovereign remedy

Post by 1lankest » Wed Nov 16, 2016 8:26 pm

Hi David,

Wish I'd replied to this sooner.

I loved it and wouldn't change a thing. Impressive sonnet!

Reading it my first instinct was: right, I'm showing my (sceptical) history pupils this!

I interpreted it as a poem about the (genuine) benefits of hindsight. The present geo-political landscape is terrifying because it we don't understand it. We don't understand it because it's too close, we're too wrapped up in it, it matters to us NOW and we don't know how it's going to turn out.

History, though murky, is at least manageable, malleable.

Good stuff, David.

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Re: Insomnia: a sovereign remedy

Post by penguin » Thu Nov 17, 2016 12:34 am

Great title and I like the ambition. L like lines 5-8 best, I think you could stick an a before panoply, its absence is more noticeable than its presence would be.
What don't I like - quotidianly welcome, especially in brackets. Some of the rhymes don't work too well, though Georges/hearses shouldn't, but does.
Maybe instead of harmonies untuned, a variation on lessons unlearned.
Great last line.

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Re: Insomnia: a sovereign remedy

Post by Grace » Thu Nov 17, 2016 1:36 pm

HI David,

I'm a fan of this one. The way you brought us from insomnia to the history of kings to the present was entertaining and you made a good point at the end.

History is clean, like you said. Also because it relieves us of our responsibilities of trying to change things for the best in the present.

I like the first line but I heard it as four iambs the first couple times I read it. I heard the "the" as unstressed.

The second half of the first part is super with the detailed history.

Grace

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Re: Insomnia: a sovereign remedy

Post by Macavity » Fri Nov 18, 2016 5:17 am

I'd say most views of history are pretty much the opposite of this - there's plenty of arguments about what actually happened, what motives were, how much we don't know. Anything but clean and finished, really!
Agree with Ros. I did enjoy the read despite that fact producing a flat tyre for the viewpoint. I vaguely remember you writing an insomnia poem before, though I think the filler of time in that one was Shakespeare. (quotidianly welcome) is a particularly cumbersome expression I felt. The use of 'mulch' I liked, unsettling in the context.

all the best

mac

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Re: Insomnia: a sovereign remedy

Post by 1lankest » Fri Nov 18, 2016 9:17 am

Fine, not clean nor finished, but surely tidier and more manageable than the present! I think that is the comparison David is making .....

Luke

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Re: Insomnia: a sovereign remedy

Post by David » Fri Nov 18, 2016 11:42 pm

Attending a concert of sea shanties tonight - they really do all sound the same - I had an opportunity to revise this, so I've had a go.

Cheers

David

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Re: Insomnia: a sovereign remedy

Post by penguin » Sun Nov 20, 2016 1:24 pm

I don't see what cottages have to do with it - but that may be my ignorance. I think the penultimate line is slightly better.

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Re: Insomnia: a sovereign remedy

Post by David » Sun Nov 20, 2016 7:17 pm

Oops, I changed it again. For the better, I hope.

Luke, you got it (in so far as there is anything there to be got). Thank you!

Thanks, Peng. I've lost "quotidianly" and greatly improved (I think) the next to last line. And put an "a" before panoply. Your wish is my command.
Grace wrote:Also because it relieves us of our responsibilities of trying to change things for the best in the present.
Thanks, Grace. That's just the sort of thing I had in mind. Not that I feel relieved of those responsibilities, just reluctant to think of them - which is wrong of me, of course.

Thanks, Mac. I don't agree with Ros. See my reply to her. I think you're misunderstanding what I'm saying, but that is your prerogative as a reader. Maybe I misunderstand what I'm saying. I'm ruling nothing out.

Cheers all

David

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Re: Insomnia: a sovereign remedy

Post by Macavity » Sun Nov 20, 2016 7:48 pm

I think you're misunderstanding what I'm saying, but that is your prerogative as a reader. Maybe I misunderstand what I'm saying. I'm ruling nothing out.
:lol: Like it.

History is dirty - just a viewpoint...assertion :wink:...

http://www.historyextra.com/news/richar ... nd-henry-v

best

mac

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Re: Insomnia: a sovereign remedy

Post by David » Fri Nov 25, 2016 4:43 pm

I revised it. Brutally.

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Re: Insomnia: a sovereign remedy

Post by Macavity » Fri Nov 25, 2016 9:05 pm

They come shambling past for my review:
Plantagenets, the useless German Georges,
a clutch of Henrys, and a rutting crew
of ill-assorted Edwards and their urges.
........very much like that

The morning sends them sullenly away
to languish in their tidy books. Breaking news...............just a thought
is messier, a doleful matinée.
No wonder if it's history that I choose.
best

mac

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Re: Insomnia: a sovereign remedy

Post by Ros » Fri Nov 25, 2016 10:51 pm

Now it feels more like a judgement on the past than a comparison between then and now.

Ros
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Re: Insomnia: a sovereign remedy

Post by k-j » Sat Nov 26, 2016 3:28 am

Serious revising there. "Improved Revision (I Hope)" is just about bang-on I think. I would just change lines 10 and 12, so that (a) they rhymed properly and (b) to eliminate the idea that history suggests things have turned out for the best, which most would find odd.

You must keep it as a sonnet.
fine words butter no parsnips

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Re: Insomnia: a sovereign remedy

Post by ray miller » Sat Nov 26, 2016 10:24 am

You need go back to the sonnet, you need the introduction. I think you just need to sort out the rhymes in the last 6 lines.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: Insomnia: a sovereign remedy

Post by Antcliff » Sat Nov 26, 2016 3:38 pm

Although I like the post-brutal poem, especially lines 3/4, I am going to join the pack in saying that there is surely a sonnet to be kept that is akin to the Improved Version. What is the point spending all that time in the boatyard producing a sonnet if it going to be launched as something else. (Exits, before he gets lost in a metaphor).
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

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Re: Insomnia: a sovereign remedy

Post by JJWilliamson » Sun Nov 27, 2016 12:40 am

David!

A sonnet spoilt is a tragic thing. :)

Seriously though, I'd stick with your sonnet because the latest revision looks and reads like an unfinished sonnet.
I actually like it, for the most part, with my only real quibble being the last line. History is loaded with intrigue
and that is enough for me, but I can't accept that the atrocities of yesterday are easier to stomach, to the point
that the speaker expresses a preference. Henry VIII alone would take a poem of epic proportions to do justice
to his self-absorbed and utterly ruthless shenanigans. A friend's wife, sister, daughter, servant, house, wealth etc were
all fair game for ol' 'enery. Lovely man. "Hang on to your ££ knickers AND head ££ if you can" should have been his motto.

Still, I did enjoy it and sympathise with the speaker's position.

Best

JJ
Long time a child and still a child

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Re: Insomnia: a sovereign remedy

Post by Grace » Sun Nov 27, 2016 4:29 am

Hi David,

I like the cleanliness of the new version, and that it arrives at the most interesting part of the poem right off the bat. In the process the nuance of the set up is compromised a tiny bit.
It still entertains and makes a point in a very efficient manner.

If you stick to the shorter form, might you consider giving the narrator an active participation in the set up of the review? That would be an efficient way to let the reader know you are solving the insomnia by bringing out the kings for review, they don't just shamble through in a dream.

Something to the effect of:

I parade them past for my review

They could still leave sullenly when they aren't needed anymore in the am.
Just a thought, ToT.

Grace

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Re: Insomnia: a sovereign remedy

Post by Macavity » Sun Nov 27, 2016 7:33 am

I suppose the other point to consider is which poem is yours, your voice, your aesthetic and not the product of a group consensus.

best

mac

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Re: Insomnia: a sovereign remedy

Post by 1lankest » Sun Nov 27, 2016 1:17 pm

Taste of your own medicine coming your way.....
Wait for it...


I much prefer the original!

Luke

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Re: Insomnia: a sovereign remedy

Post by Ros » Mon Nov 28, 2016 9:58 am

I think the slant rhymes are working better in the revision. Aren't you a beat short in the first line? Not sure whether that matters. Not convinced that sullenly is doing much - it seems to imply they are looking back at you, which is perhaps stretching the idea too much. Matinee is puzzling me a bit - I feel it should be indicating that the matinee is a prelude to the big event, but I don't know what the big event is. Possibly I'm reading that wrongly. I muss untethered hours.

Ros
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