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  #1  
Unread 05-21-2022, 10:17 AM
Sarah-Jane Crowson's Avatar
Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
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Default Pantoum: Once

Once
Then she disguised herself and took the shape of another old woman – Grimm's Fairy Tales


The mirror murmurs, ‘time, time’.
That girl - a splash of red in the forest.
She trips and stumbles! Hounds whine,
– glass shatters on a marble terrace.

That girl? A splash of red in the forest.
It’s nearly midnight. The clock dial whirrs
– glass shatters on a marble terrace.
Lost in the hedge a woman stirs.

It’s nearly midnight. The clock dial whirrs
again. A – rose? – blossoms before me,
lost in the hedge. A woman stirs –
to watch me as I start my journey.

Again. A rose blossoms. Before me,
she trips and stumbles. Hounds whine
to watch me as I start my journey
The mirror murmurs ‘time, time’.



Further edit - added em-dash S3 L2 - thank you Susan.
Further edits - 'hidden in hedgerow' now 'lost in a hedge'. Addition of speculative epigraph which might tie it down to just one fairytale too much. tweaks to punctuation.

Edits - moved to (rough) four-beat lines but with no set metre pattern. Moved some of the earlier rhymes to slant rhymes (that thread in general is helping me - thank you, as rhyme is my weakest point) because perhaps the full rhymes took away more than they gave & I wanted to have forest as an end word so much. I twiddled also to try to make the mechanism feel more clock-like (and mechanism is four beats, so unless I had 'Midnight. mechanisms whirr' it wouldn't work, although I did consider that. And - a small 'aargh' to apologise as I had copied across a slightly older version, without the 'stirs'.


[size="2"]The echoes in the mirror murmur, ‘time, time’.
I glimpse a splash of crimson through the open door.
A girl has been lost in the forest! Hounds whine,
– glass shatters on a marble floor.

I glimpse a splash of crimson through the open door.
It’s nearly midnight. A mechanism grates
– glass shatters on a marble floor
whilst a woman watches from the hedgerow, waits.

It’s nearly midnight. A mechanism grates
again. The scent of – rose? blossoms before me
whilst a woman watches from the hedgerow, waits
as my sister steps out to start her journey.

Again. The scent of rose blossoms. Before me,
a girl has been lost in the forest. Hounds whine
as my sister steps out to start her journey.
The echoes in the mirror murmur ‘time, time’.



Edits:
Rework of the rhymed end-words (for the most part).
Bringing back 'forest' in a different place.
Cut/changed some word-level choices to bring the line lengths down to under 12 syllables.
Changed pattern of last strophe so that the first line is also the last line.
Tweaked pronouns so that there is a clear narrator, to try to bring some centre-point to the poem (the narrator as either middle or youngest sister)


The echoes in the mirror murmur, ‘time, time’.
We glimpse a splash of crimson, a girl by the door,
hear her relentless running, a howl, a whine
– glass shatters on a marble floor.

We glimpse a splash of crimson, a girl by the door.
It’s nearly midnight. A pause – a mechanism whirrs
– glass shatters on a marble floor.
A woman waits half-hidden in the furze.

It’s nearly midnight. A pause – a mechanism whirrs
again. An intense scent of – apple? blossoms whilst
a woman waits, half-hidden in the furze
for the eldest child, the first to seek a tryst.

Again. An intense scent of apple blossoms, whilst
the echoes in the mirror murmur ‘time, time’
for the eldest child, the first to seek a tryst.
Hear her relentless running, a howl, a whine.



Edits - small changes to end-words so they rhyme. Tweaks to the start of L4 to make it more immediate. Pronoun removed from S3 and S4.



Version One
The echoes in the mirror murmur, ‘time, time’.
We glimpse a splash of crimson, a girl in the forest,
hear her relentless running, the howl of hounds
as glass shatters on a marble floor.

We glimpse a splash of crimson, a girl in the forest.
It’s nearly midnight. A pause – a mechanism whirrs
as glass shatters on a marble floor.
A woman waits beside the tangled hedge.

It’s nearly midnight. A pause – a mechanism whirrs
again. An intense scent of – apple? blossoms while
a woman waits, beside the tangled hedge,
for the eldest child, the first to seek their fortune.

Again. An intense scent of apple blossoms, while
the echoes in the mirror murmur ‘time, time’
for the eldest child, the first to seek their fortune.
Hear her relentless running, the howl of hounds.

Last edited by Sarah-Jane Crowson; 05-30-2022 at 04:28 PM. Reason: em-dash
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  #2  
Unread 05-21-2022, 12:32 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Sarah-Jane,

I like the play of the and a here.
I think you've used the pantoum form to good effect - its recurrence notably - but I don't find a lot of shift in contextual meaning, largely I think because your lines feel a bit stand-alone and the whole is built to an extent out of one-line fragments, like a kaleidoscope. All those one-liners i think are pretty good and together they paint a compelling tale, a bit red Riding Hood-y, with that nice line about "the first to seek their fortune" a reminder how often things turn out badly for the eldest in fairy tale.
I myself regret the lack of rhyme, which is possible in a pantoum, including my favorite and the first I encountered: https://fleursdumal.org/poem/142 . But I understand that these days, that is considered optional.

Cheers,
John

Last edited by John Isbell; 05-21-2022 at 12:33 PM. Reason: kaleidoscope
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  #3  
Unread 05-21-2022, 12:44 PM
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RCL RCL is offline
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Sarah-Jane,

I know little about the pantoum but detect here the forward & back rhythm of a clearly unfolding and interesting folk narrative. Others will be more helpful regarding the rules. Roll on!
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Unread 05-21-2022, 12:50 PM
Carl Copeland Carl Copeland is online now
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Sarah-Jane, very clever how you shift the meaning of the repeated lines—the way a good pantoum is supposed to work, I take it. Speaking of "the first to seek their fortune," though, why "their"? Are you generalizing, as John suggests, to all eldest children?

Carl
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Unread 05-21-2022, 01:01 PM
Sarah-Jane Crowson's Avatar
Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
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Thank you so much, John, Ralph and Carl,

It is very helpful to know your thoughts. I'm struggling a bit with the pantoum rules as I keep finding different versions depending where I look. And each pantoum I read seems to have different patterns in it too!


Ralph - thank you - I wanted to write this in some of the patterns I read in fairy-tales. I did wonder if it should be ballad, but I think I probably lack the skills to write a ballad, and I wasn't sure that it would fit with the content/idea I wanted to convey if I could.

John, thank you, it's good to know your thoughts about the single lines. What I wanted to do was to hint at different specific fairy-tales in each strophe, and use the form to bring a sense of foreboding and inevitability - yes, to that reading of the fate of the eldest in seemingly every fairytale.

I have a rhymed version, but I didn't like it so much as this version, but it might be that I need to use it for the form to work properly.

Carl - thank you - and yes, I was trying to shift the emphasis to 'all' the generic first-born (they usually die, or are rude to the woman and die, as does the second son, until the third comes along). But I'll look at it again as I might be better/clearer sticking with 'her'.

Thanks again - I will see if I can take the best bits of the rhymed version and look at the pronouns, too and will post a revision either later tonight or tomorrow.

Sarah-Jane
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Unread 05-21-2022, 03:07 PM
W T Clark W T Clark is offline
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I'm very busy at the moment and can't give this the attention it rightfully deserves.
Saying that, I think the latter stanza's use of the repeating form were particularly skillful. Both natural and surprising; evocative yet circular.
Saying that, if you are so interested in the play of forms, then ridding yourself of the rhyme seems like a cheat or a performance enhancing drug in this context.
I'm not also convinced that this rises to its themes. It has a lot of signature symbols, fairy-tale mirrors, fleeing girls, forests and hounds; the whirring of machinery; as if you have extrapolated the most culturally-famous motifs of surrealism and mixed them into a soup. I can see a lot of deconstructionalist-fairy-tale type gestures, but I am not sure that this cleaves to a subject, or a moment, or something communicable and responsive beyond its images. It seems almost to be missing a point, in a way. That sounds like a rather large detraction, but I don't think you would need much to give this poem a responsive core. One of my interpretations at first was that this was a very early viewing of cinema, and an audience's, unfamiliar until then with the artform, reaction. It would be easy to factor in an emotional response to that.
This is a very nicely-made painting, stylistically. But I think you need to inject something into this to give it a kind of emotional or responsive element, a pull, a reason or point.

Apologies for my quickness, I have to go — more Heidegger and Derrida to read.

Hope this helps.

P.S: Another suggestion would be that this isn't enough; it needs more narrative, to be fleshed out a little more.

P.P.S.: You posted a revision. It looks like an improvement. I'll have to return.

Last edited by W T Clark; 05-21-2022 at 03:13 PM.
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Unread 05-21-2022, 03:07 PM
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Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
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Revision posted - this is the full rhyme version. I dislike the swop to 'tryst' rather than 'fortune' so I'm not sure that the balance is right in this, but it might be more important to rhyme.

I've tweaked the pronoun issue - thanks Carl.

Sarah
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Unread 05-21-2022, 03:49 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Sarah-Jane,

I do think rhyme could be a way to pull this narrative and poem into focus. However, I myself don't feel that your current rhyme scheme adds, I think it mostly detracts. Thus, I prefer the forest to the door; I prefer "the tangled hedge" to the furze; and I prefer "seek their fortune" to a tryst. Each rhyme I think fails to add to your meaning.
I won't go on about forests in fairy tale, I'll just say that doors do have poetry to them but quite a different sort. The girl has not got far at all if adventure happens to her on the doorstep. Tangled hedge I think is great - splendid even - whereas furze reminds me of Christian Morgenstern's weasel, who sits in teasel "just for the rhyme": https://www.deutschelyrik.de/das-aes...esel-1899.html . Finally, trysts are I think almost universally *not* what gets the eldest in trouble. The eldest think they can handle adventures and fail to do so, love is not their concern.
So, if you buy my arguments, you'll need a different approach, starting with your very interesting unrhymed version, to solve the problems you see within it. This particular rhyme scheme won't do it. My 2c.

Cheers,
John
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Unread 05-21-2022, 03:56 PM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
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Hello Sarah-Jane,

At first reading, I am not sure if this is some technical weakness of pantoums (I will have to go read a cross-section of the very best to estimate their effects/affects and how those are achieved) but this is not working for me right now, in that it reads as a very, very, very stretched out small fragment of story, and I say fragment of story because my feeling is that there are pieces missing for a whole story to at least be extrapolated (in that sense I don't think all the gaps left in the plot are effective in gaining interest, in that, the poem then heavily relies on mood-painting, but then the mood-painting is not grounded in much, which makes me think of something more like the disconnected couplets of a ghazal), even if those pieces are rearranged within an echoing form.

I might go read some pantoums. I might come back with more useful comments. No pinky-swears!

I am reminded of the Brothers Grimm, but unfavourably in comparison for this pantoum, though!

Last edited by Yves S L; 05-21-2022 at 04:00 PM.
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Unread 05-21-2022, 04:00 PM
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Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W T Clark View Post
I'm not also convinced that this rises to its themes. It has a lot of signature symbols, fairy-tale mirrors, fleeing girls, forests and hounds; the whirring of machinery; as if you have extrapolated the most culturally-famous motifs of surrealism and mixed them into a soup. I can see a lot of deconstructionalist-fairy-tale type gestures, but I am not sure that this cleaves to a subject, or a moment, or something communicable and responsive beyond its images. It seems almost to be missing a point, in a way. That sounds like a rather large detraction, but I don't think you would need much to give this poem a responsive core. One of my interpretations at first was that this was a very early viewing of cinema, and an audience's, unfamiliar until then with the artform, reaction. It would be easy to factor in an emotional response to that. .
Cam, we cross-posted but thank you, this is great critique - and yes, I agree, it's as much about fairy-tale trophes and the blurring of those - but I also agree about the need to get 'something else' in there - either me, the narrator in some way which isn't icky and confessional or some kind of emotional 'draw-in' point to take it beyond the exercise.

I have no easy answers - but I do agree with you. Is the form using me, or am I using it, and if I am using it, is it to say something interesting that can travel, or just an empty show-off poem which is an exercise in form. I think there are things I can do, but they'll probably be in the morning. thanks, though!

John - I read your points and they are helpful - thank you - I don't mind the forest/door so much as I think that doors are interesting things too. There's a 'fairytale word-level' which says that 'furze' and 'tryst' is okay, but I'm not sure that they carry well (furze is used in a few traditional fairy-tales - it's gorse - witches hide in it). I agree with you on 'tryst'.

I think I probably have a choice to make around whether I break form (which is difficult to read anyway as the writing on what a pantoum 'is' seems very various) or how I use the form.

Yves - we cross posted too - but thank you for your comments. I quite like the cyclical, disconnected feel, but I agree there are things in this poem that need work!

It's good - I like this kind of challenge.

Thanks all

Sarah-Jane
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