Incident at the Grove of Mamre Revised

This is a serious poetry forum not a "love-in". Post here for more detailed, constructive criticism.
Post Reply
cynwulf
Prolific Poster
Prolific Poster
Posts: 552
Joined: Thu Oct 10, 2013 2:20 pm

Incident at the Grove of Mamre Revised

Post by cynwulf » Tue Jun 09, 2015 7:50 pm

Incident at the Grove of Mamre Revised

Wind sheers through the grove, shadows jolt,
and three strangers stand in shafts of light
beneath the terebinths.

The Chaldean brooding by his tent
has never seen such folk as these-
shining giants, so solid, so real
the trees are liquid, ghosts
flowing in the rippling air.

He runs forwards, kneels and bows his head,
pleads with them to break their journey,
to rest while meat is cooked and bread is baked.

As they eat he sits and joins their talk.
His wife at the tent door hears one say:
When I pass this way next spring, Sarah will have a son.
She laughs.The stranger must be a fool.
She has had no issue of blood in fifty years.
She backs into the folded darkness of the tent.

The meal is finished. The strangers rise,
stride to the path; walk off towards the city,
the red towers far distant on the plain.
She sees her husband follow,
standing in the foolish stranger's way
haggling, gripping his hand.
The stranger nods at last, shakes free,
hurries down the track.

Hours later as they lie together
a fire-ball bursts far off, eliminates the night
as if a thousand suns flared in the sky.
The light dies away as quickly as it glared to life.
A roaring barrage grows, bombards the valley.
Whirlwinds follow, shriek through the grove,
Wail off into the wilderness.

From high earth orbit, geostationary, the four Elohim
watch the mutagenic flower bloom and spread its seeds.
The holographic metamorph suits had worked well,
their real forms undetected by the Chaldean
and the dozen Ebirus at the grove.
Ya-Wei, Creator (Solar Systems, Class 1) hopeful
this experimental series might lead to his galactic status.
Ga-Breel, Demiurge (Planetary, Class 1) would supervise
the special seeding planned for a future time at Bethlehem,
which should clinch that promotion, if it took.
Mi-Kaal (Host Commander) was preparing to enter stasis, his protective duty done.
Sa-tanas already setting up warp drive,
his tentacles fusing into synapse with the neural nexus of the conscious ship.








Incident at the Grove of Mamre Original

Wind sheers through the grove, shadows jolt,
and three strangers stand in shafts of light
beneath the terebinths.

The Chaldean brooding by his tent
has never seen such folk as these-
shining giants, so solid, so real
the trees are liquid, ghosts
flowing in the trembling air.

He runs forward, kneels and bows his head;
pleads with them to break their journey,
to rest while meat is cooked and bread is baked.

As they eat he sits and joins their talk.
His wife at the tent door hears one say:
When I pass this way next spring, Sarah will have a son.
She laughs. The stranger must be a fool,
she has had no issue of blood in fifty years.
Blushing, she backs into the folded darkness of the tent.

The meal is finished. The strangers rise,
stride to the path, walk off towards the city,
the red towers far distant on the plain.
She sees her husband follow,
standing in the foolish stranger's way,
haggling, gripping his hand.
The stranger nods at last, shakes free,
hurries down the track.

Hours later as they lie together
a fireball bursts far off, eliminates the night,
as if a thousand suns flared in the sky.
The light dies as quickly as it glared to life.
A roaring barrage grows, bombards the valley;
whirlwinds follow, shriek through the grove,
wail off into the wilderness.
edited in response to David and Mac
Last edited by cynwulf on Wed Jun 17, 2015 9:55 pm, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
bodkin
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 3181
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 9:51 pm
antispam: no
Location: Two inches behind my eyes just above the bridge of my nose.

Re: Incident at the Grove of Mamre

Post by bodkin » Wed Jun 10, 2015 2:23 pm

Very similar area to HenryBones here: http://poetsgraves.co.uk/forum/viewtopi ... =3&t=21020

I quite like this. I am afraid anything Biblical isn't going to have any particular resonance for me. By which I mean it may be that it does for some other people, but if so I don't know what that is like.

So you are telling the story effectively, I guess for me the question is why? What are you trying to add?

You show Abraham arguing with "the stranger" presumably interceding on behalf of Sodom, so is part of the point so show this from Sarah's point of view, possibly her without understanding?

Is the idea in the final strophe to contrast the destruction with (metaphorically?) the conceiving of the child?

As you can see, I think I see what you are talking about, just not why...

I suspect this isn't useful, sorry,

Ian
http://www.ianbadcoe.uk/

David
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 13711
Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2006 4:40 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: Incident at the Grove of Mamre

Post by David » Wed Jun 10, 2015 4:45 pm

bodkin wrote:So you are telling the story effectively, I guess for me the question is why? What are you trying to add?
Mm. That's the question for me too, really. Or even, what have you added? I must go and look this up again, but at the moment you just seem to have retold the story without putting any kind of new slant or spin on it. Such new slants or spins are not compulsory, of course, but without them why wouldn't we just read Genesis again?

I admit I didn't even recognize Mamre on first sight. I was expecting something out of pagan Britain, so the biblical retelling took me by surprise. More ignoramus me.

Still, I will go and get my AV and read this again afterwards.

The typo (I presume) in the last line, sadly, was the most exciting thing in the poem! A sudden glimmer of strangeness. However, as it's you, C, I assume I'm missing something. I'll go and find out what it is.

Cheers

David

Macavity
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 6087
Joined: Tue May 10, 2005 10:29 am

Re: Incident at the Grove of Mamre

Post by Macavity » Thu Jun 11, 2015 5:10 am

hi C.,
Found the narrative very readable and atmospheric. On the nits side 'trembling air' I wasn't really getting and I think you've missed a full-stop after track.

enjoyed

all the best

mac

Mic
Preternatural Poster
Preternatural Poster
Posts: 1758
Joined: Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:58 am
antispam: no
Contact:

Re: Incident at the Grove of Mamre

Post by Mic » Thu Jun 11, 2015 8:20 am

I do like narrative poems, but I don't find myself excited by this - it is a little bit plodding, the language seems at times overblown, and the gothic scene seems too familiar.

I did like the (to me) unsual words though, which helped lift things temporarily (terebinths, Chaldean)

Sorry I couldn't be more enthusiastic.
"Do not feel lonely, the entire universe is inside you" - Rumi

cynwulf
Prolific Poster
Prolific Poster
Posts: 552
Joined: Thu Oct 10, 2013 2:20 pm

Re: Incident at the Grove of Mamre

Post by cynwulf » Thu Jun 11, 2015 7:17 pm

Thankyou all for reading this and the thoughtful comments.

Ian: thank you for the link, I had missed that, had I seen it I probably wouldn't have posted this piece as Mirage is a superior account of the same incident. Why my account?-I had been looking at Rublev's ikon of the Visit to Abraham recently, and consequently decided to read Genesis 18 again; found the story mysteriously garbled, are the visitors men, angels or God (in trinitarian form), are there 3 or just one? This led me to a counterfactual idea-what if this actually happened, as if von Daniken and others were right and the visitors were ancient astronauts, possibly involved in some kind of nuclear accident, and genetic/fertility experiments. My opening was intended to reveal the sudden appearance as an equivalent of "beam me down, Scottie", the shining appearance- the uniforms they were wearing. The later section with the thousand suns was a reference to Oppenheimer's quote from Book 12 of the Bhagavad Gita (Krishna's theophany) following the Trinity atomic test explosion at White Sands in 1945.

I was as you suggest also trying to get over Sarah's incomprehension of the event. Your idea of the final strophe is something I wish I had thought of.

David, Apologies for my proof reading-piece now corrected. I think my reply to Ian may also answer your query.

mac, have put the stop in. Trembling air -trying to convey the rippling (probably a better epithet) effect of the convection currents in the heat of the day. Pleased you enjoyed it.

Mic, yes probably the account is too prosaic to convey my intention Pleased you liked terebinths-most translators give the trees as oaks ( though the Hebrew is apparently not clear on this and might mean terebinths). Oaks too prosy I think and gives the wrong image too of a sort of Sherwood foresty kind of tree when the oaks here would be evergreen holly-leaved oaks (Quercus ilex).

My best wishes and gratitude,
c.

David
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 13711
Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2006 4:40 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: Incident at the Grove of Mamre

Post by David » Thu Jun 11, 2015 8:44 pm

cynwulf wrote:found the story mysteriously garbled, are the visitors men, angels or God (in trinitarian form), are there 3 or just one?
Yes, I thought that too!
cynwulf wrote: This led me to a counterfactual idea-what if this actually happened, as if von Daniken and others were right and the visitors were ancient astronauts
The more I read the OT, the more plausible - although still, y'know, pretty daft - I find the von Däniken theory. Not that I know it in very great detail, but in general terms? It fits pretty well.

You see, I said I must be missing something. I missed the whole Star Trek aspect. I'll read it again with that in mind.

Cheers

David

User avatar
bodkin
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 3181
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 9:51 pm
antispam: no
Location: Two inches behind my eyes just above the bridge of my nose.

Re: Incident at the Grove of Mamre

Post by bodkin » Fri Jun 12, 2015 9:23 am

cynwulf wrote:Ian: thank you for the link, I had missed that, had I seen it I probably wouldn't have posted this piece as Mirage is a superior account of the same incident. Why my account?-I had been looking at Rublev's ikon of the Visit to Abraham recently, and consequently decided to read Genesis 18 again; found the story mysteriously garbled, are the visitors men, angels or God (in trinitarian form), are there 3 or just one? This led me to a counterfactual idea-what if this actually happened, as if von Daniken and others were right and the visitors were ancient astronauts, possibly involved in some kind of nuclear accident, and genetic/fertility experiments. My opening was intended to reveal the sudden appearance as an equivalent of "beam me down, Scottie", the shining appearance- the uniforms they were wearing. The later section with the thousand suns was a reference to Oppenheimer's quote from Book 12 of the Bhagavad Gita (Krishna's theophany) following the Trinity atomic test explosion at White Sands in 1945.

c.
Ah...! maybe play up the SciFi (von Daniken is SF, yes?) elements some more then, because that is obviously completely my area, but I totally missed it.

e.g. now you have explained, I completely get your opening scene in the way you intended, however before your explanation I just read it as three men standing in the partial shade of a tree...

Ian
http://www.ianbadcoe.uk/

cynwulf
Prolific Poster
Prolific Poster
Posts: 552
Joined: Thu Oct 10, 2013 2:20 pm

Re: Incident at the Grove of Mamre Revised

Post by cynwulf » Sun Jun 14, 2015 4:19 am

Thank you, Ian, for your suggestion. I have added a section in response which I hope will clarify my previous obscurity.
Von D I think falls into an altogether different sub genre Unscience Fiction along with Velikovsky et al.
Regards, c.

David
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 13711
Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2006 4:40 pm
Location: Ellan Vannin

Re: Incident at the Grove of Mamre Revised

Post by David » Wed Jun 17, 2015 6:31 pm

cynwulf wrote:From high earth orbit, geostationary, the four Elohim
watch the mutagenic flower bloom and spread its seeds.
The holographic transform suits had worked well,
their real forms undetected by the Chaldean
and the dozen Ebirus at the grove.
Ya-Wei, Creator (Solar Systems, Class 1) hopeful
this experimental series might lead to his galactic status.
Ga-Breel, Demiurge (Planetary, Class 1) would supervise
the special seeding planned for a future time at Bethlehem,
which should clinch that promotion, if it took.
Mi-Kaal (Host Commander) was preparing to enter stasis, his protective duty done.
Sa-tanas already setting up warp drive,
his tentacles fusing into synapse with the neural nexus of the conscious ship.
U R taking the P, C. Just a little bit.

No matter. That is an inspired, if slightly mad, addition. From the Yahwist (is it?) to Robert A. Heinlein.

Sa-tanas already setting up warp drive

- I love that.

Cheers

David

User avatar
bodkin
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 3181
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 9:51 pm
antispam: no
Location: Two inches behind my eyes just above the bridge of my nose.

Re: Incident at the Grove of Mamre Revised

Post by bodkin » Thu Jun 18, 2015 1:22 pm

I'm afraid I hated this addition, C.

I'm not sure whether you are completely taking the mickey or whether you intended this to add anything, I'm going to have to work on the assumption you meant it seriously (I mean as a serious addition to the poem, I'm withholding judgement on whether the poem itself is supposed to be humorous...)

In this light, I'd say you have sacrificed any chance of getting any meaningful interaction between the biblical and the SF by laying the SF on with a trowel that's ten times too large. You're also picking up all that is worst in SF with that same blunt trowel. For me the barest hint, say of the new arrivals taking helmets off or one wandering off to us a communicator, early in the poem so that we know where we're going rather than being knocked for six at the end... That would have been more to the point of just slightly redirecting the reader's er reading...

Sorry, but not for me at all,

Ian
http://www.ianbadcoe.uk/

cynwulf
Prolific Poster
Prolific Poster
Posts: 552
Joined: Thu Oct 10, 2013 2:20 pm

Re: Incident at the Grove of Mamre Revised

Post by cynwulf » Thu Jun 18, 2015 7:30 pm

Thank you both for your comments.
No, I would never respond facetiously to a critic: with the final section I'm not attempting to extract either the result of renal ultrafiltration or michael, all meant entirely seriously, even if I have conflated the E and J redactions of Genesis. It probably is too OTT, too blatantly expressed, but I still feel there is something there to work on. I'll leave it for now and let things incubate a while, or, even better, ferment. I remain grateful for your original suggestion, Ian.
Best wishes, c.

Post Reply