Eratosphere Forums - Metrical Poetry, Free Verse, Fiction, Art, Critique, Discussions Able Muse - a review of poetry, prose and art

Forum Left Top

Notices

Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Unread 08-04-2021, 11:23 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 5,645
Default From the Book of Daniel

Version II: From the Book of Daniel


I, Nebuchadnezzar, King of Kings,
had a dream which troubled me:
a tree cut down.

The magicians, the Chaldeans
could not make known its meaning.

Then a voice
from Heaven spoke: The kingdom is departed from thee.
God snapped me like a twig.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx And I ate grass
for seven years, wet with the dew of Heaven.
I walked on all fours with the beasts in the field.



The terror that you feel as what exists
just through the mirror, in another world,
comes calling, lets you know your mind persists
in fighting God. You are so tightly curled
around yourself, there is no room for air.
Let go a little. And if it be death
to this world that awaits you, be aware –
we die to live. For more, don’t hold your breath.

Smash the entire machine.
Step off the waiting ledge.
Be purified and clean.
Existence has an edge.


Like Samson at the pillars of the sky,
I brought the heavens down around my ears.
This was the job: a spanner in the gears –
a reckoning. We each are born to die.
You know the score: the trials we endure
cannot define us. That is how the fleet
come last. The clever hand off to the pure.
And loss is not the same thing as defeat.



Version I: From the Book of Daniel


Smash the entire machine.
Step off the waiting ledge.
Be purified and clean.
Existence has an edge.


The terror that you feel when what exists
just through the mirror, in another world,
comes calling, lets you know your mind persists
in fighting God. You are so tightly curled
around yourself, there is no room for air.
Let go a little. And if it be death
to this world that awaits you, be aware –
we die to live. For more, don’t hold your breath.


I, Nebuchadnezzar, King of Kings,
had a dream which troubled me:
a tree cut down.

The magicians, the Chaldeans
could not make known its meaning.

Then a voice
from Heaven spoke: The kingdom is departed from thee.
And I went on all fours, a beast in the field.


Like Samson at the pillars of the sky,
I brought the heavens down around my ears.
This was the job: a spanner in the gears –
a reckoning. We each are born to die.
You know the score: the trials we endure
cannot define us. That is how the fleet
come last. The clever hand off to the pure.
And loss is not the same thing as defeat.


Edits: S5 L3, like a beast -> a beast

Last edited by John Isbell; 08-10-2021 at 04:14 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Unread 08-05-2021, 12:27 AM
Seree Zohar's Avatar
Seree Zohar Seree Zohar is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: oy of the storm
Posts: 4,917
Default

Hey John,
this is just a super fly-by but consider perhaps:

And I went on all fours, like a beast in the field.

- because that's precisely why the dream came along, for behaving inhumanely, for bestiality.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Unread 08-05-2021, 01:57 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 5,645
Default

Hi Seree,

I think your main thrust concerns the word "like" - God turns the king not into something like a beast in the field but into a beast in the field. "They shall make thee to eat grass as oxen," runs the text. I've removed like for that reason.
I do want to keep and. After the line I quote, the text runs "And they shall drive thee from men..." I like those Biblical ands! And for me, that conveys how the Lord speaks, and then shizzle happens on Earth.
I also like that Nebuchadnezzar tells the whole story. It's an amazing passage, much condensed here of course. He is broken by God like a twig. He eats grass.

Cheers, and thanks for your suggestion,
John
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Unread 08-05-2021, 03:44 AM
Sarah-Jane Crowson's Avatar
Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: UK
Posts: 737
Default

Hi John,

This reads to me as if it has - or might have - three different‘voices’. There’s a kind of detached overarching narrator in S1, a more reflective philosophical voice in S2 and then the voices of Nebuchadnezzar for S3 onwards.

I think you need the three voices as otherwise the poem risks being very atonal - prosey even.

I think what I’d consider doing is firming up the first image to make it more immediate - think about whether you need ‘entire’ or ‘waiting’ or ‘purified and clean’ - I know you need them for the metre but is the pay off of a stronger image at the start worth considering?

I think that S2 works best for me when you get to ‘You are so tightly curled/around yourself’ and it might be worth starting with this?

For the Nebuchadnezzar voices, I wonder whether it’s worth adding almost a stage direction - Nebuchadnezzar speaks, and then you can start with ‘I had a dream which troubled me’. I almost want the voices to be more delineated - up the drama slightly - to keep me engaged.

First thoughts only. I love that image from your comment; ‘he is broken by God like a twig. He eats grass’. I wonder if it is worth you adding that image after the ‘beast’ image somewhere as it’s such a strong and startling picture.

Sarah-Jane
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Unread 08-05-2021, 05:45 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 5,645
Default

Hi Sarah-Jane,

Thank you for your detailed and insightful comment. it really brings home to me how things that have affect for me cannot be guaranteed to have affect for others: thus, the first two stanzas, which you rightly found abstract. I hope to have edited them to make them livelier, and I've shifted the sequence to put Nebuchadnezzar first, where he really belongs. I also want to separate his first-person voice from the closing voice, which is narrated by someone else as I conceive it: the king doesn't mess with Heaven, Heaven messes with him - Samson is a different echo.
In local terms, I've adopted a variety of your suggestions, both to make things more concrete and to bring back in the grass-eating and the twig. It's a fantastic moment in the Bible, really karmic if you like. The man is simply wiped out by God, and comes back to testify to it. As i say, I also reordered the whole lot, including inside my trimeter quatrain, for various reasons.
Seree, this meant rewriting your suggestino. I've now dropped and, and my wording is closer to the great lines in Daniel - with, not like, the beasts in the field. I'm not sure which is scarier but the all fours and the grass is a killer. Here's Blake's vision of the guy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebuchadnezzar_(Blake)

Cheers, and thank you both - this was a good test,
John
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Unread 08-05-2021, 02:15 PM
Sarah-Jane Crowson's Avatar
Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: UK
Posts: 737
Default

Hi John,

Oh, I'm glad that the thoughts were helpful. I find the poem clearer now, and I do think the strong image of 'broken like a twig' works. It'll be interesting to find out what other people think, though.

The voice at the start feels more clearly delineated, too. I wonder if it's worth having a strophe break on 'thee'?

Sarah-Jane
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Unread 08-05-2021, 03:02 PM
F.F. Teague's Avatar
F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Gloucestershire, UK
Posts: 1,154
Default

Hi John,

I don't know the Book of Daniel, but I remember Nebuchadnezzar from somewhere, probably school. I get two voices, I think: Neb until 'field' and then a modern-day speaker. The latter seems rather intensely religious, if I'm reading that right. I know Samson too and I find the imagery that launches the final stanza quite powerful, in its way.

Sorry this is quite a short comment; I expect I'll be back :-)

Best wishes,
Fliss
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Unread 08-05-2021, 03:44 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 5,645
Default

Hi Sarah-Jane, hi Fliss,

And thanks for stopping in!

Sarah-Jane: yes to your new stanza break! Consider it done. I found I went back to the trimeter quatrain as was. I don't know whether it works and am thinking of cutting it: do people feel it adds materially? I like it per se, I'm just unsure it's useful here, and I remain leery of the abstractions you mentioned, S-J, in your first comment. I want this all punchy and immediate, if possible.

Fliss: I agree, there are two Ns I hear in this as well: Neb. (check out the Blake if you've not seen it), and my usual N here, whom I'll call Clay. He is indeed a bit religious, like Neb. after God's visit. Intense is a good word and doesn't bug me as a reaction! I hope it's not too off-putting to readers though. Powerful I also like. The theme is broadly that of Milton's Samson Agonistes.

Anyway: it may be I need just three sections to make that narrative sequence happen, and the trimeter quatrain is overkill. Do folks have thoughts?

Cheers, and thank you both for your shaping of this,
John
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Unread 08-05-2021, 05:18 PM
F.F. Teague's Avatar
F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Gloucestershire, UK
Posts: 1,154
Default

Hi John,

You're welcome for the stop-in; I shall check out the Blake. Yes, I thought this might be Clay. You're right not to be bugged by 'intense'; I'm intrigued rather than put off by that. It would be interesting to see what others think. I don't know that Milton, so I shall take a look at that too 8-)

I think the tri-quat works in the context of intensity. It's a bit of an instructional moment and perhaps the final stanza shows how it has worked for Clay.

Best wishes,
Fliss
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Unread 08-05-2021, 05:56 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 5,645
Default

Thanks, Fliss, for stopping back, and for the vote to keep the trimeter quatrain. It survives for now! You make a splendid, cogent argument. It's didactic, but weird, I think.

The Blake link is upthread and you were right to suspect Clay speaking here. He is a talker. The Milton contains the line "Eyeless in Gaza at the mill with slaves" - as Samson is at the end - which gave Huxley his title. It's longish but IMO brilliant, like his Lycidas. Here it is: https://milton.host.dartmouth.edu/re...ama/text.shtml
I like his mid-length poems more than Paradise Lost, frankly. Or at least, I read them more. And the sonnet "On His Blindness" is just brilliant.

Cheers,
John
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



Forum Right Top
Forum Left Bottom Forum Right Bottom
 
Right Left
Member Login
Forgot password?
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Statistics:
Forum Members: 8,215
Total Threads: 20,826
Total Posts: 264,632
There are 342 users
currently browsing forums.
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Sponsor:
Donate & Support Able Muse / Eratosphere
Forum LeftForum Right
Right Right
Right Bottom Left Right Bottom Right

Hosted by ApplauZ Online