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  #1  
Unread 07-14-2021, 12:02 PM
W T Clark W T Clark is online now
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Default Demeter in the Overworld

Rev.

Pray for my daughter:
for Charon’s dipped oars in the obsidian of forgetting:
for a girl's half-expectant face.

...............Once, returning
home, you think you catch
a glimpse of her: an old goddess, awash
in Winter
& diesel smoke
in a high street swarmed
with gray-stained voices and gray
coats, wearing her waiting buttoned
to the throat,
on the other shore
of the road's harsh
and catalytic sea.

Some woman's face, you think,
one more mother
amongst the press
of the street; unremarkable as the missing
posters that mar
the symmetry of brick.

So you walk on because the sun
is already shallow
in the sky; you have no time
to stop or help or pray.

Pray, gods. for the mother:
for the trees crouched uselessly above her,
for these last ice-bitten lilies of the valley hanging their heads.




..................Once, returning
home, you think you catch
a glimpse of her: an old goddess awash
in Winter
& diesel smoke
in a high street swarmed
with gray-stained voices and gray
coats, wearing her waiting buttoned
to the throat, on the other shore
of the road's harsh
and catalytic sea.

Some woman's face, only that,
you think, one more mother
among the press
of the street; unremarkable as the missing
posters that mar
the symmetry of brick.

So you walk on because the sun
is already shallow
in the sky; you have no time
to stop or help or pray.


Rev1

Pray, gods. for my daughter.
For the trees crouched uselessly above her,
and these last ice-bitten lilies of the valley hanging their heads.
Pray for my daughter:
for Charon dipping his oars into the obsidian of forgetting:
for a girl's half-expectant face.




..................Once, returning
home, you think you catch
a glimpse of her: an old goddess, awash
in Winter
& diesel smoke

in a high street swarmed
with gray-stained voices and gray
coats, wearing her waiting buttoned
to the throat, on the other shore
of the road's harsh
and catalytic sea.

Some woman's face, only that,
you think, one more mother
among the press
of the street; unremarkable as the missing
posters that mar
the symmetry of brick.

So you walk on because the sun
is, already, shallow
in the sky; you have no time
to stop or help or pray.


**************

Gods, pray for my daughter.

For the trees crouched uselessly above her,
or these last frost-forged, ice-bitten lilies
of the valley hanging their pendulous heads.
For all sunless creatures, white as the seeping
night they crawl through.
For a girl's half-expectant face, receding
as Charon dips his oars into the obsidian of forgetting.



..................Once, returning
home, you think you catch
a glimpse of her: god
of harvest & resignation, awash
in Winter
& diesel smoke

in a high street swarmed
with gray-stained voices & gray
coats, her weathered
face, middle-aged, wearing
her waiting buttoned
to the throat, abstract
on the other shore
of the road's harsh
& catalytic sea.

Some woman's face, only that,
you think, one more mother
among the press & business
of the street; unremarkable as the missing
posters that sometimes mar
the symmetry of brick.
So you walk
on because the sun
is, already, shallow
in the sky; because you have no time
to stop or help or pray.

Last edited by W T Clark; 07-25-2021 at 06:22 AM.
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  #2  
Unread 07-14-2021, 12:26 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Cameron,

I like your premise - more than "What if God Were One of Us," for instance, by a fair margin - your title (quite a bit), and your execution. It's a worthwhile concept IMO. If I were looking for nits, I might test every line to see that they're needed for your concept to be realized. Maybe the poem needs this room to breathe though, your call.

Oh - if the N has no time to pray, is the N among the gods that open this?

Update: also, a bit, this:

What seas what shores what grey rocks and what islands
What water lapping the bow
And scent of pine and the woodthrush singing through the fog
What images return
O my daughter.


Regards,
John

Last edited by John Isbell; 07-14-2021 at 12:28 PM. Reason: Eliot, Marina
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  #3  
Unread 07-14-2021, 12:45 PM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
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Hello Cameron,

I am not really up with my Greek stuff, so I am going to comment in passes. My first impression I that I am unsure what the focus or pay-off for this poem is. Is the main point being Demeter being "reduced" to living the life of an ordinary woman with little splashes of colour to signify she is that different? It does not have the scaffolding of a narrative, since spotting someone on the street, to me, does not quite amount to a scene all on its own without some incident acting as a highpoint.

Sure, the poem ends on:

unremarkable as the missing
posters that sometimes mar
the symmetry of brick.
So you walk
on because the sun
is, already, shallow
in the sky; because you have no time
to stop or help or pray.

But I am not sure what to make of this sudden transition given where the poem starts up, and where it goes, with only that there is a contrast between Demeter who can maybe depend upon a God's help, and normal women who have to fend for themselves and end up as faces of missing posters, but that does not feel like the true focus/theme of the poem, more like one connection amidst the descriptions of "Demeter in the city".

Yeah(It suffices)!
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  #4  
Unread 07-14-2021, 01:01 PM
W T Clark W T Clark is online now
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Hello John and Yves,
Thank you for your comments.
I will set out here how I see the structure, because one of the things I wanted to see when posting this was whether people would be able to tell between the different narrators.
Most basically, I wanted the first section of lines to be seen as a prayer by Demeter. The second longer and more gnarled part to be just a spotting of her by a human n. I'd be interested to see if people are reading this the way I intended, or if there are stumbling blocks.

John,
I would interested to hear about any lines you personally think I should cut.
Yves, as to the theme, I wanted to bring the more highfalutin prayer of section 1 into an almost ordinary situation, where Demeter's story can be seen as just another tragedy we walk by each day, both specific and universal, if that makes sense. The n hasn't got time for gods and myths just as they haven't got time for missing daughters and the like. At least, that was my intention. No, I wasn't aiming for narrative.

Thank you, both of you.
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  #5  
Unread 07-14-2021, 01:17 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Location: TX
Posts: 5,434
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Hi Cameron,

I'll try instead to see if I can pick out what seems essential here at my end.


Gods, pray for my daughter.

For the trees crouched uselessly above her,
or these last frost-forged, ice-bitten lilies

I'd keep this, not e.g. the pendulous heads. Time for simple.


For all sunless creatures, white as the seeping
night they crawl through.
For a girl's half-expectant face, receding

Sunless creatures I'm afraid suggests the underworld to me, not I think your intention. Maybe a the in front? And again, you do have a bunch of modifiers.


as Charon dips his oars into the obsidian of forgetting.
Very nice!

..................Once, returning
home, you think you catch
a glimpse of her: god
of harvest & resignation, awash
in Winter
& diesel smoke

harvest & resignation is nice, but I don't think you need to load every seam with ore, in Keats's words. I might just say "her, the weeping goddess" or some such.


in a high street swarmed
with gray-stained voices & gray
coats, her weathered
face, middle-aged, wearing
her waiting buttoned
to the throat, abstract
on the other shore
of the road's harsh
& catalytic sea.

Waiting buttoned to the throat - yes. Maybe tighten the rest?


Some woman's face, only that,
you think, one more mother
among the press & business
of the street; unremarkable as the missing
posters that sometimes mar
the symmetry of brick.

I might stanza break here. I'd leave out "only that," for instance.


So you walk
on because the sun
is, already, shallow
in the sky; because you have no time
to stop or help or pray.

Maybe drop the becauses?

OK, my 2c. Do with it as you will! You may remember Dr. Johnson's advice to a young writer: "Read carefully over what you wrote; and, whenever you come to a passage you think particularly fine, strike it out."

Update: for only that, maybe after all? I see you need something there.

Regards,
John

Last edited by John Isbell; 07-14-2021 at 01:19 PM. Reason: update
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  #6  
Unread 07-14-2021, 01:25 PM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
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Hello Cameron,

Your highfalutin is quite highfalutin and your ordinary is quite ordinary (with little splashes of colour), so I do not really interpret it as bringing the highfalutin into the ordinary but clearly seperating them out. Yeah, I picked up some kind of structural contrast, and yeah I got the trope of the Goddess "reduced" to ordinariness, some connction between the prayer of the start and at the end, but still could not put it together.

If I clearly saw Demeter as being the person praying for her own daughter, then one get one clear connection to missing people photos, but it is kind of submerged, but I think you are asking the white space to do quite a bit of work, especially as the prayer could be more specifically aimed at whatever theme/focus you have in mind.

That is about as far as I can go without more specific knowledge on Greek mytholody, especially the trope of "Demeter's daughter."

Yeah!
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  #7  
Unread 07-14-2021, 01:43 PM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
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Hello Cameron,

So it is Demeter and Persephone, right! The way I look at it is you have three section bound by the "Demeter's grief for her daughter" concept, with the the third section looping back into the first. The following is just the way I look at the structure.
I just noticed you could do an interesting trick of starting highfalutin and ending ordinary, but I reckon you would have to blend it more smoothly!

I

Gods, pray for my daughter.

For the trees crouched uselessly above her,
or these last frost-forged, ice-bitten lilies
of the valley hanging their pendulous heads.
For all sunless creatures, white as the seeping
night they crawl through.
For a girl's half-expectant face, receding
as Charon dips his oars into the obsidian of forgetting.

II

 Once, returning
home, you think you catch
a glimpse of her: god
of harvest & resignation, awash
in Winter
& diesel smoke

in a high street swarmed
with gray-stained voices & gray
coats, her weathered
face, middle-aged, wearing
her waiting buttoned
to the throat, abstract
on the other shore
of the road's harsh
& catalytic sea.

Some woman's face, only that,
you think, one more mother
among the press & business
of the street

III

Unremarkable are the missing
posters that sometimes mar
the symmetry of brick.
So you walk
on because the sun
is, already, shallow
in the sky; because you have no time
to stop or help or pray.

Last edited by Yves S L; 07-14-2021 at 02:03 PM.
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  #8  
Unread 07-14-2021, 04:04 PM
W T Clark W T Clark is online now
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Thank you John and Yves redux!
John, Thank you for these suggestions, they are, indeed, helpful. I'll look over the poem with each comment in mind. Your Dr. Johnson quote made me smile. Kill your darlings, and then some more, as they say. Loading every seam with ore and Blake's "excess" are delicious quotes, but I am quite keen on honing my poetry back at the moment. I'm slightly obsessed with clarity currently. Ore can wait. Though maybe this poem does not demonstrate that.

Yves, thank you for your two posts. I take it you mean that I could cycle the highfalutin down gradually through section 2? I will consider this (if that is what you meant in your short and hinting sentence). Or maybe cut away much of the falutin. Yes, you can read the poem in that way, tri-sectionally.

Thanks again.
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  #9  
Unread 07-14-2021, 04:18 PM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
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Cameron,

Yeah that is what I meant: cycle it down gradually down through section 2. I am just tossing out ideas.

I thought that part of section 1 being highfalutin was deliberately overfilling it with ore, no? I thought you were deliberately going for excess: Charon dips his oars into the obsidian of forgetting. If you were worried about density, you could simply change the lineation to give the phrases more breathing room.

Last edited by Yves S L; 07-14-2021 at 04:23 PM.
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  #10  
Unread 07-14-2021, 10:21 PM
Seree Zohar's Avatar
Seree Zohar Seree Zohar is offline
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Hi Cameron,

I'm looking at the title, and the entire S1. Let's assume that as soon as the reader sees the title, a mass of info is immediately at the reader's fingertips (and thank goodness for the internet and the ability to get the nutshell version from countless sites!)

I'm not a big fan of stating the obvious. I like it when things are left to the reader to connect, conclude, understand. This must be the 4th or 5th time I've looked at your piece and have the same gut reaction each time:
Demeter in the Overworld

Pray, gods. for my daughter.

For the trees crouched uselessly above her,
or these last frost-forged, ice-bitten lilies
of the valley hanging their pendulous heads.
For all sunless creatures, white as the seeping
night they crawl through.
For
Charon dips his oars into the obsidian of forgetting.
A girl's half-expectant face recedes.
And that leaves what remains of that stanza, plus the rest of the poem, to my thinking, far more empowered, while also removing the questionable premise that all "sunless" creatures ought actually to receive sun; and yes, I swapped the order of the 2 words - putting the verb / command / plea first is stronger, to my mind. There's a lot of good writing in the continuing stanzas though a teensy bit of trim might help, and please, why ampersands? They do come across as a little pretentious, unfortunately, almost a kind of "well look at ME!" ploy. To make the word 'and' stand out in content of this nature is, for me at least, an unwanted distraction.

I very much liked "Overworld," the last 2 lines of S1, "gray stained voices", and the image of posters concealing brick.

Last edited by Seree Zohar; 07-14-2021 at 10:34 PM.
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