In a Cemetery of Oak and Ash

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NotQuiteSure
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In a Cemetery of Oak and Ash

Post by NotQuiteSure » Sun May 05, 2019 12:23 pm

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In a Cemetery of Oak and Ash


I am the Tomb of her, a stolen child:
carried and unbirthed in me, by one
who was, to all the world, as a man.
That night he set aside his face, cold
light caught the flush, the sweat, each grunt and thrust
as he cut her a salebrous bed.
Abandoned thus, I did undress her,
bathe her in the rich earth, wreathe thin bones
with rhizomes and dry leaves. I sent taproots
into her eyes that she might see once more.

The flies were first in their attendance.
The ivied Ash, the Oak, a greater host:
worms, beetles, our smallest servants too,
were at her perideipnon. All ate well.
I know three cubs denied the Winter,
with what the vixen shared. Those tokens
which he left - six knots, a hair, his taint -
these I do not touch. But Time lacks patience.
No Gorgon guards this grave, no plaque proclaims:

If thunder is the breaking of a cup,
if wind and rain are lamentation,
then in every storm is Ceremony.


Each Spring, I sing the flowers from her,
a hymn of bluebells and celandine.




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Jackie
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Re: In a Cemetery of Oak and Ash

Post by Jackie » Tue May 07, 2019 4:57 am

NQS,

Thank you for this. The reverence and pain are compelling. The "she" and "her", however, seem to keep her at a distance—I wonder if you tried writing it in the 2nd person?

In L7, why is N abandoned? In L13, “Our smallest servants too” takes on an awkward POV.

It may be just me, but I would see this more poetic with greater conciseness and rhythm. I did enjoy images like this one:
That night he set aside his face, cold
light caught the flush, the sweat, each grunt and thrust
as he cut her a salebrous bed.
Jackie

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Re: In a Cemetery of Oak and Ash

Post by Macavity » Tue May 07, 2019 7:27 am

You have a taste for dark poetry Not! A macabre poem. I thought the voice in the poem worked. In general I felt the poem was darker and richer without the Greek referencing, but I guess you wanted to work the 'ceremony' angle.

cheers

mac

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Re: In a Cemetery of Oak and Ash

Post by ray miller » Tue May 07, 2019 10:10 am

I think the first stanza is very fine, except, are we meant to suppose that she was buried by something other than a man?
I find it peculiar that the oak and ash line appears in between the flies, worms and beetles.

I know three cubs denied the Winter,
with what the vixen shared. - I don't think those lines are adding much.

I like the couplet at the end. The absence of a plaque, the italicised lines I'm less fond of. All a bit too portentous.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: In a Cemetery of Oak and Ash

Post by David » Wed May 08, 2019 5:32 pm

I'm not really getting this, and think I require a crib of some sort. I like "perideipnon" - a new word for me - but is your "salebrous" (also new) really necessary?

I'm prepared to enjoy this more when I understand it better.

Cheers

David

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Re: In a Cemetery of Oak and Ash

Post by NotQuiteSure » Thu May 09, 2019 4:28 pm

.
Thanks for the read and critique, Jackie.
Jackie wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 4:57 am
The "she" and "her", however, seem to keep her at a distance—I wonder if you tried writing it in the 2nd person?
I hadn't, but will certainly think about it now, thanks.
Jackie wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 4:57 am
In L7, why is N abandoned? In L13, “Our smallest servants too” takes on an awkward POV.
Not N but her.
'servants' - take your point, will address.
Jackie wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 4:57 am
more poetic with greater conciseness and rhythm
And I'd been considering the other direction, ok. Will have to ponder.

Hi mac,
Macavity wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 7:27 am
I felt the poem was darker and richer without the Greek referencing, but I guess you wanted to work the 'ceremony' angle
Well, it was you who set me down the road to the epigrams of Erinna, and thence to the perideipnon, but I'll see what I can do.

Hi ray,
'other than a man' - depends to what extent a 'man' is a social construct.
Wasn't sure about the italicised lines myself, hence the italics to an extent, so thanks for the feedback on those.


Hi David,
thanks for the read.

Regards all, Not.

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Re: In a Cemetery of Oak and Ash

Post by David » Thu May 09, 2019 4:40 pm

No crib, then? Okay, can anybody else explain what's going on here? Unless its obscurity is its purpose.

Outlandish explanations will be welcomed - and probably necessary.

David

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Re: In a Cemetery of Oak and Ash

Post by NotQuiteSure » Thu May 09, 2019 6:02 pm

.
Hi David.

OK, assuming I've understood 'crib' correctly (don't think I've ever used the word before :) )
It's about the disposal of a body as told from the perspective of the place where the body is dumped,
prompted by an the beginning of an epigram attributed to Erinna ("I am the tomb of Baucis,") and
ancient Greek funerary practices ... ish.

Now, about 'duende' ...

Regards, Not.


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Re: In a Cemetery of Oak and Ash

Post by Macavity » Fri May 10, 2019 2:09 am

Well, it was you who set me down the road to the epigrams of Erinna, and thence to the perideipnon, but I'll see what I can do.
:roll: Did I? Perhaps there was a response in the original posting on the other forum that was deleted, which I hadn't read since I was out watching cricket that day :) )
I think the first stanza is very fine
I agree with Ray.

best

mac

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Re: In a Cemetery of Oak and Ash

Post by JJWilliamson » Fri May 10, 2019 9:12 am

My initial response was exactly the same as David's, Not, even though I'd read it a thousand times. (slight exaggeration)

However, after reading your response everything fell into place beautifully, wonderfully in fact. So, I wonder if it's a little obscure in places. Now, this is just a thought, a simple musing, something to consider but I SO wanted to understand the central thrust or premise.
NotQuiteSure wrote:
Sun May 05, 2019 12:23 pm
.

In a Cemetery of Oak and Ash ...Is this title working against your initial intent? The word cemetery immediately has me thinking of a formal burial, and the Greek reference seems to be working with flavours of Romanticism, especially in your delicious close. I quite like the mix, although I had to search for perideipnon. Still, once the search was over it was worth the effort. "In a Forest of Oak and Ash" perhaps? This would open up the first line by personifying the forest.


I am the Tomb of her, a stolen child: ...Interesting line of iambic pentameter. Flawless btw.
carried and unbirthed in me, by one ...Is 'unbirthed' a bit overcooked? Does this mean "placed in me"?
who was, to all the world, as a man. ...You could add an extra syllable to 'a man'. " Who was to all the world a tortured man". Is 'world' a bit overused? Could you work with " assembly"?
That night he set aside his face, cold ...Maybe "a cold" for the sake of meter.
light caught the flush, the sweat, each grunt and thrust
as he cut her a salebrous bed. ...I read this as "rough bed" and wondered why you chose the more complex 'salebrous'. It doesn't bother me but I paused to think for a sec or two. Not a bad thing. You seem to be using a headless iamb in the first foot. Is this deliberate because it's not the only substitution running through this poem?
Abandoned thus, I did undress her, ...Do you need 'thus'? Only four stresses. A feminine ending with nine sylls will always trip the meter.
bathe her in the rich earth, wreathe thin bones
with rhizomes and dry leaves. I sent taproots ...Hmmm, the meter is complex but sound, I think. I get an iamb/ double iamb/ iamb/ troche. It's a tad clunky because you have three substitutions, even though there is a case for the double iamb. Interesting line.
into her eyes that she might see once more. ...Perfect IP.

The flies were first in their attendance. ...'in their attendance' reads a bit like filler, mainly because it could easily be cut if it wasn't for the meter. Just a thought, and yes I often do the same thing myself. :)
The ivied Ash, the Oak, a greater host:
worms, beetles, our smallest servants too,
were at her perideipnon. All ate well.
I know three cubs denied the Winter, ...Would "survived" change your meaning?
with what the vixen shared. Those tokens ...Four stresses. You appear to be splitting the iamb by taking it round the corner, so to speak. Done this myself as well. Debatable, yet the flow is unimpeded by this device.
which he left - six knots, a hair, his taint -
these I do not touch. But Time lacks patience. ...Great meter opening with a headless.
No Gorgon guards this grave, no plaque proclaims: ...Is 'Gorgon' too much?

If thunder is the breaking of a cup,
if wind and rain are lamentation,
then in every storm is Ceremony.
...I'd need more info' to know of this strophe's significance.

Each Spring, I sing the flowers from her (grave),
a hymn of bluebells and celandine. ...Beautiful close but the meter falters..."An antiphon" perhaps.
Well, I thought a lot and wrote little but I hope some of this helps, Not.

Fine, fine piece.

Best

JJ
Long time a child and still a child

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Re: In a Cemetery of Oak and Ash

Post by NotQuiteSure » Fri May 10, 2019 1:02 pm

Macavity wrote:
Fri May 10, 2019 2:09 am
Did I? Perhaps there was a response in the original posting on the other forum that was deleted, which I hadn't read since I was out watching cricket that day :) )
Actually it was this link you provided Jules
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/ ... -minnesota
which led to
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetry ... ntId=26770
and finally to one of her epigrams. So thanks :)
Macavity wrote:
Fri May 10, 2019 2:09 am
I agree with Ray.
Thank you



Hi JJ,
looks like you're well on the way to recovery. You appear distressingly energised.

...after reading your response everything fell into place beautifully, wonderfully in fact. So, I wonder if it's a little obscure in places. Now, this is just a thought, a simple musing, something to consider but I SO wanted to understand the central thrust or premise.
I wasn't attempting obscurity, what would have made it less so?

In a Cemetery of Oak and Ash
...Is this title working against your initial intent? The word cemetery immediately has me thinking of a formal burial, and the Greek reference seems to be working with flavours of Romanticism, especially in your delicious close. I quite like the mix, although I had to search for perideipnon. Still, once the search was over it was worth the effort. "In a Forest of Oak and Ash" perhaps? This would open up the first line by personifying the forest.
By using 'cemetery' I was attempting to suggest that hers wasn't the only tomb, but I take your point about formal (any suggestions?) As to 'forest', I haven't made up my mind how 'big' the Tomb was, the immediate area, a glade, the whole forest ... Probably should have done/should do :)

I take it from a lot of your critique that you're in agreement with Jackie "more poetic, with greater conciseness and rhythm" ? Hadn't been looking to go down that road, but clearly that was my mistake.


I am the Tomb of her, a stolen child:
...Interesting line of iambic pentameter. Flawless btw.
Accidents will happen.
carried and unbirthed in me, by one
...Is 'unbirthed' a bit overcooked? Does this mean "placed in me"?
Possibly (I liked that it had fetish associations, and sounded (like) unnatural), and yes.
who was, to all the world, as a man.
...You could add an extra syllable to 'a man'. " Who was to all the world a tortured man". Is 'world' a bit overused? Could you work with " assembly"?
Don't care if he's tortured (in that sense) :)
I was playing with the phrase "look for all the world like". "Assembly" ? (I'm gonna kick myself for not getting this)

That night he set aside his face, cold
...Maybe "a cold" for the sake of meter.
Hadn't been trying for meter, but ...
(All I had been doing was moving the 10 syllable line down one line every three lines.)
Wouldn't it look like he set aside a cold ? :)
light caught the flush, the sweat, each grunt and thrust
as he cut her a salebrous bed.

...I read this as "rough bed" and wondered why you chose the more complex 'salebrous'. It doesn't bother me but I paused to think for a sec or two. Not a bad thing. You seem to be using a headless iamb in the first foot. Is this deliberate because it's not the only substitution running through this poem?
Yes, rough bed (but I didn't like the sonics of it, nor plain, nor simple, spartan, etc). 'salebrous' seemed, to me, ugly in just the right way, reminded me of scabrous.
Abandoned thus, I did undress her,
...Do you need 'thus'? Only four stresses. A feminine ending with nine sylls will always trip the meter.
It seemed in keeping with the Erinna epigram, but not wedded to it.
bathe her in the rich earth, wreathe thin bones
with rhizomes and dry leaves. I sent taproots

...Hmmm, the meter is complex but sound, I think. I get an iamb/ double iamb/ iamb/ troche. It's a tad clunky because you have three substitutions, even though there is a case for the double iamb. Interesting line.
I ran into a surfeit of pronouns
into her eyes that she might see once more.
...Perfect IP.
OK, so they happen twice.

The flies were first in their attendance.
...'in their attendance' reads a bit like filler, mainly because it could easily be cut if it wasn't for the meter. Just a thought, and yes I often do the same thing myself. :)
I was alluding to the formality of the perideipnon (and filling) :)
The ivied Ash, the Oak, a greater host:
worms, beetles, our smallest servants too,
were at her perideipnon. All ate well.
I know three cubs denied the Winter,

...Would "survived" change your meaning?
No, survived was the meaning, I just like the idea that the Tomb found winter a threat.
with what the vixen shared. Those tokens
...Four stresses. You appear to be splitting the iamb by taking it round the corner, so to speak. Done this myself as well. Debatable, yet the flow is unimpeded by this device.
which he left - six knots, a hair, his taint -
these I do not touch. But Time lacks patience.

...Great meter opening with a headless.
No Gorgon guards this grave, no plaque proclaims:
...Is 'Gorgon' too much?
Representations of gorgons were used to 'guard' ancient Greek graves.
If thunder is the breaking of a cup,
if wind and rain are lamentation,
then in every storm is Ceremony.

...I'd need more info' to know of this strophe's significance.
Which I interpret as 'just cut it!' :) That said ... Acc. to archaeologists, there was often a large number of broken cups (and presumably other pottery) found on these graves. Libations, toasts, who knows? But that is the starting point. And it's the Tomb's attempt at consolation, which,
given it isn't human (not to mention these undocumented rituals are four to six thousand years old) it doesn't get 'right'.

Each Spring, I sing the flowers from her (grave),
a hymn of bluebells and celandine.
...Beautiful close but the meter falters..."An antiphon" perhaps.
Yes, but I didn't want 'grave' (I wanted the flowers to be 'coming'/nourished
from her decomposing body (though eventually 'grave' would be accurate).
(maybe a modifier for 'hymn' ?)

Well, I thought a lot and wrote little but I hope some of this helps, Not.
All of it helps JJ, as usual. Though the main take seems to be, stop messing about and get this metered properly!

Fine, fine piece.
Thank you.

Time and effort very much appreciated JJ. Good to have you back.

Regards, Not.


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Re: In a Cemetery of Oak and Ash

Post by David » Fri May 10, 2019 3:46 pm

NotQuiteSure wrote:
Thu May 09, 2019 6:02 pm
.
Hi David.

OK, assuming I've understood 'crib' correctly (don't think I've ever used the word before :) )
It's about the disposal of a body as told from the perspective of the place where the body is dumped,
prompted by an the beginning of an epigram attributed to Erinna ("I am the tomb of Baucis,") and
ancient Greek funerary practices ... ish.

Now, about 'duende' ...

Regards, Not..
Ah, now that is helpful. But "the beginning of an epigram attributed to Erinna ("I am the tomb of Baucis,")" ... that's pretty obscure, isn't it? If you posted the epigram itself - and credited it - with the poem, I think that would be very helpful.

I'll try it again now, duly genned up.

Cheers

David

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Re: In a Cemetery of Oak and Ash

Post by Joao » Mon May 13, 2019 2:50 pm

Hi Not, are the lines in italics yours or Erinna's? They're beautiful! Especially the thunder as a breaking cup. The lines felt misplaced, though. I think because they're too specific. In the preceding lines, you're trying to single out her burial by contrasting it with commonplace funeral tributes (the Gorgon, the plaque), but when you read out the actual inscription, the contrast with commonplace burials breaks down; it's too specific; it reads like a jolted digression into some other specific burial. You lose sight of the singularity of your subject's tomb.

Then, another inconsistency arises once you do read the inscription. The lines are about the elements administering funeral pomp when the living might have neglected it. So it doesn't make sense to oppose her burial to the image of such a plaque. Rather, the inscription is the perfect motto for it. This takes me to my last point. I like David's suggestion of an epigraph. Instead of a quote by Erinna, why not make the italics your own epigraph to the poem (didn't George Eliot do this in Middlemarch?).

I liked the poem very much and I agree with the others on S1. It's really very good.

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Re: In a Cemetery of Oak and Ash

Post by NotQuiteSure » Wed May 15, 2019 1:55 pm

.

Hi Joao,
thanks for the read.
Yes, the italics are mine - and you might be right about misplaced.
Hers is an unmarked grave, hence no Gorgon or plaque, but those
lines were supposed to be the Tomb's idea of consolation, its way
of saying, don't worry that the rituals haven't been observed, imagine
that If thunder ... Though, clearly they're not working.

As to the epigraph, could do. Though I do like the 'hymn' couplet.
Still working on it though, so who knows how it will end up?

Thanks again,

Regards, Not.


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