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Stalking Carp

Posted: Fri Oct 04, 2019 11:42 pm
by ton321
Revision

Stalking Carp.



I hunted them all Summer long,
common carp
full of deep cunning, but shy as door-mice,
on the collapsing canal bank.

They can feel a footfall
from half a mile away.
When they are wary
they slowly sink to the bottom
and stay there,
a submarine with its engine off.

They suck the floating crust,
the hook takes,
and the line becomes alive
hissing off the reel,
the rod buckles in your hands
like a divining rod.

You have to let the line out
on its first panicked run,
watch the bow wave,
ignore the screaming reel.

Sometimes the hook snagged
into some underwater root,
or snarl of rust,
the line pinging past
as it snapped.

Their flesh tastes of mud
and sullen, sodden roots.
If they could they would make mud
their home, not water,
half earth
half water-dweller.


Original


You hunted them all Summer long,
common carp, full of deep cunning,
but shy as door-mice,
on the collapsing canal banks
barely putting one foot in front of another
like a soft-footed leopard with one padded paw
poised
mid air, as it neared its prey;

or watched them rise for the bait
like the shadows of a dream from the muddy waters,
suddenly suck the floating crust, hungrily,
the line cutting through the water
like cheese-wire, and hissing off the reel,
the rod nearly bent in two, buckling,

as it went on its first run,
making sure not to stop its momentum,
to let it expend itself, and slowly
ease it into the submerged landing net,
worn out, submissive,spent,

or cursing as the hook snagged
on some underwater root, or snarl of rust,
the line pinging past as it snapped.

Their flesh tastes of mud and sullen, sodden roots.
I had to pick the bones out from my teeth.
If they could they would make mud their home
not water,
half earth, half,water-dweller.

Once I got within an arms length of
a monster, three feet long as it bathed in the shallows.
I crept up as slowly as I could,
dropped the bait.
Slowly it slipped away into the murk,
a ghost of water;
my hands trembling, long after.

Re: Stalking Carp

Posted: Sat Oct 05, 2019 4:19 am
by Macavity
Their flesh tastes of mud and sullen, sodden roots.
Liked that. I also liked the image of the fish slipping away into the murk. The you/I transition confused me.

Re: Stalking Carp

Posted: Sat Oct 05, 2019 9:36 am
by Firebird
Hi Ton,

Overall, I like it, even though I’ve never fished. I do though think it could be more concise in places. Some specific comments below. Just a suggestion: I quite like the final two stanzas as a poem on their own.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,

Tristan

ton321 wrote:
Fri Oct 04, 2019 11:42 pm
You hunted them all Summer long,
common carp, full of deep cunning, (strong line)
but shy as door-mice,
on the collapsing canal banks
barely putting one foot in front of another (this is a little too cliched for me)
like a soft-footed leopard with one padded paw (no need for ‘padded’)
poised
mid air, as it neared its prey;

or watched them rise for the bait
like the shadows of a dream from the muddy waters, (strong line)
suddenly suck the floating crust, hungrily,
the line cutting through the water
like cheese-wire, and hissing off the reel, (I like the cheese-wire simile)
the rod nearly bent in two, buckling,

as it went on its first run,
making sure not to stop its momentum,
to let it expend itself, and slowly
ease it into the submerged landing net,
worn out, submissive,spent,

or cursing as the hook snagged
on some underwater root, or snarl of rust,
the line pinging past as it snapped.

Their flesh tastes of mud and sullen, sodden roots. (strong line)
I had to pick the bones out from my teeth.
If they could they would make mud their home
not water,
half earth, half,water-dweller.

Once I got within an arms length of
a monster, three feet long as it bathed in the shallows.
I crept up as slowly as I could,
dropped the bait.
Slowly it slipped away into the murk,
a ghost of water;
my hands trembling, long after. (Strong finish, but I’m not sure you need ‘long after’)

Re: Stalking Carp

Posted: Sat Oct 05, 2019 1:22 pm
by NotQuiteSure
.
Hi ton,
another non-angler's view. For me the poem is in the last two stanzas (though I'd switch the order,
and tidy the punctuation in S5-L4/5. Should it be 'trembled'?)

Particularly liked 'deep cunning', 'a ghost of water' and 'sullen roots'.

Regards, Not


.

Re: Stalking Carp

Posted: Sat Oct 05, 2019 3:55 pm
by David
We've been enjoying Mortimer and Whitehouse Go Fishing, so this is timely for me. And I like it.

But what would it be like without the similes? Better, I think. See what you think.

Cheers

David

Re: Stalking Carp

Posted: Sun Oct 06, 2019 4:38 am
by JJWilliamson
Hi, Tony

I enjoyed this fishing poem and the tension you developed as the poem progressed. It gives the reader a sense of the primitive hunter in us all. The gastronomic side dish of fish was also very interesting.

I think David makes an excellent point with regards to the similes. It's not that they're bad or even misleading but they seem to have
no place in the telling. Why, for example, is a leopard in a carp poem? I could cope with "cat". Why the distraction of cheese? I read
the poem, sans similes, and found the flow unimpeded.

The close worked for me, mainly because I very much liked the lingering aftereffect and how it emphasised the importance of the experience
to the speaker.

The you/I transition could be referencing a teacher of some sort, like a father, but it's not clear. It feels like the speaker is recalling how another person used to stalk the carp on the banks and how this experience progressed into one of his own.

Best

JJ

Re: Stalking Carp

Posted: Sun Oct 06, 2019 10:42 am
by ray miller
Enjoyed it very much. I'm not sure the opening sentence of 22 lines is a good idea. I'd like to have seen it broken down a little. The repeats of "or" was a bit distracting too.
ton321 wrote:
Fri Oct 04, 2019 11:42 pm
You hunted them all Summer long, - does summer need capitalising?
common carp, full of deep cunning,
but shy as door-mice, - should be dormice.
on the collapsing canal banks
barely putting one foot in front of another
like a soft-footed leopard with one padded paw
poised
mid air, as it neared its prey;

or watched them rise for the bait
like the shadows of a dream from the muddy waters,
suddenly suck the floating crust, hungrily, - hungrily seems unnecessary.
the line cutting through the water
like cheese-wire, and hissing off the reel,
the rod nearly bent in two, buckling,

as it went on its first run,
making sure not to stop its momentum,
to let it expend itself, and slowly
ease it into the submerged landing net,
worn out, submissive,spent,

or cursing as the hook snagged
on some underwater root, or snarl of rust,
the line pinging past as it snapped.

Their flesh tastes of mud and sullen, sodden roots.
I had to pick the bones out from my teeth.
If they could they would make mud their home
not water,
half earth, half,water-dweller. - you don't need the comma after half. But really I wonder if you need this stanza at all. It pulls one away from the main theme, the hunt.

Once I got within an arms length of
a monster, three feet long as it bathed in the shallows.
I crept up as slowly as I could,
dropped the bait.
Slowly it slipped away into the murk,
a ghost of water;
my hands trembling, long after.

Re: Stalking Carp

Posted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:30 pm
by ton321
Hi Mac, glad you liked it. I've changed the you /I thing in the revision.
Tristan, Not, David, thanks for the comments. I've changed a few things around in the revision, taken out a few similies, added a few new ones. :)
JJ It was long after catching carp that i tried one, in Prague, a bit disappointing and bony. Much prefer cod or haddock.
Ray, glad you enjoyed it, I've changed a few things in the revision. I wanted to pull the reader through a bit with the 22 lines, but maybe it was a bit unecessary