barrett wrote: ↑
Thu Jun 20, 2019 11:16 am
I can't imagine anyone really has too much of a problem with older styles of poetry do they? I'm sure most will read anything from Catallus to Carol Ann Duffy (I'm sure there must be a better modern poet beginning with C!). But it does say Contemporary Poetry Forum in the banner. I suppose it depends on why you're writing, if you're writing for yourself then all's well and good, but I suppose you might face problems trying to get stuff published in the lit mags with older styles. That's not to say there's not plenty of formal poetry being published today, of course.
When I was looking around for a forum to participate in, I found one where the poets wrote like Keats. Their Keats-like poems might have been well written, but they were stuck in a writing style that had already been explored. To be noticed in the world of poetry, you have to contribute something new to the canon -- and I think that's the standard on most forums now. The group here, however, doesn't like anything formalist, or too introspective. This poem is about lost youth -- how tired a subject is that? But everyone has to write about youth at some point. We all age and die.
I sometimes think about what Frost went through to get his poetry published, especially in America, more than a century go. He was a formalist poet, and he breathed fresh air into formal poetry by writing in a more natural diction; but even then free verse and modernism had taken hold, and I think that all the editors could see was his formalism. My view, however, is that formal poetry will never die; it is just too pleasing to the ear. It has complexities that free verse will never have.
So back to this poem, I think that stanzas 4 and 5 have a pleasing complexity. I'm genuinely distressed that you see the ending as maudlin. My education in formalist poetry taught me that hammering down the ending of a poem with a pithy insight is the right thing to do, but I think that standard has changed. Now the reader wants something more profound and less trite.
I have changed stanza two, switching out "by all accounts" for "or could have been":
it was not ever as it ought
have been, or could have been,
hard as I tried to be care-free
amidst my griefs and loss.
I think that's an improvement, though it still comes across as filler. The poem drags a bit in the beginning, which is because of another one of my writing ethics: the feeling that a subject should be approached gently or gradually, with an extended introduction. I start a lot of poems that way.
"amidst my griefs and loss" will turn a lot of people off, but I was a miserable young person, so it was true. These days, men especially feel that they have to come across as masculine in their writing, and "griefs and loss" doesn't convey that. Even women poets are writing in masculine tones these days.
Actually, "a quiet longing in my soul" in the first stanza will put people right off this poem, but those words still have meaning to me because that was what I was feeling at the time -- a quiet longing. The question for me is whether I write what I like even if it is a little old-fashioned, or write for my readers (my readers that I may never have).
Thank you for your interest in the poem!