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  #1  
Unread 01-21-2022, 06:29 PM
Robert Luis Rodriguez Robert Luis Rodriguez is offline
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Default "To Spend a Life In Search of One Who Knows"

"To Spend a Life In Search of One Who Knows"

To spend a life in search of one who knows.
Self-doubt prevents e’er trusting self, indeed.
The dismal sight of one with answers, naught.

All ‘round, fly those who live lives of repose.
While others drop unwanted; beg and plead
To spend a life in search of one who knows.

To blame oneself for sadness, ever grows,
Becomes the tragic tune of life-long creed,
The dismal sight of one with answers, naught.

To find a seer, awaken from the doze,
That keeps one in a lifelong fog, proceed
To spend a life in search of one who knows.

The endless quest for sill with lamp that glows
Bespeaking light that shines at last on weed,
The dismal sight of one with answers, naught.

Till finally finds diviner to transpose
Life’s troubling sounds, no longer with the need
To spend a life in search of one who knows
The dismal sight of one with answers, naught.

Last edited by Robert Luis Rodriguez; 01-22-2022 at 08:59 AM.
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  #2  
Unread 01-22-2022, 12:54 AM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Welcome, Bob!

Well, you've set yourself a challenge for your first workshopped poem here. Villanelles are notoriously difficult to keep fresh and meaningful.

Sadly, I'm no closer to understanding the fragment "The dismal sight of one who answers, naught" after encountering it for the fourth time than I was the first three times.

That line must be important, not only because it's repeated, but also because you've broken the villanelle form in order to force it in there, despite its not rhyming with the other repetend--nor with any other line in the poem but itself.

But what does that string of words really mean?

Where's the main verb that should be in that line? Is the comma supposed to substitute for "is"? (Even then, I can't paraphrase that line. It just doesn't mean much to me.)

On the other hand, for some reason the narrator feels the need to explain in L2 that "self-doubt prevents e'er trusting self, indeed." (Well...yes. Of course. That's pretty much the definition of self-doubt. Why are you telling us this?)

I would rather read a short, simple poem that has something to say than a complicated 19-line extravaganza that doesn't.

The narration feels both haltingly stilted and breathlessly chatty, due to a combination of sentence fragments like L1 (which is missing the main verb) and comma splices creating run-on sentences.

I also miss the articles a, an, and the in this poem. especially here:

     The endless quest for (a) sill with (a) lamp that glows
     Bespeaking light that shines at last on (a) weed.

(Or maybe you really do mean "weed," without an article, as in marijuana. I don't think so, though.)

If you had a teacher who told you that in poetry, little words like a, an, and the are not necessary and should be cut, that teacher was wrong. In poetry, the music matters. And it's hard to make music if you're cutting the unstressed words that would appear in the normal, fluent cadence of speech.

[Edited to add suggested edits to these two lines:

     To find a seer, awaken from the doze,
     Thats keeps one in a lifelong fog, proceed
     To spend a life in search of one who knows.

-->

     To find a seer, awaken from the doze,

The overall flow of the poem would be more interesting and unpredictable if you enjambed more, and this would be a great opportunity to do that, since there's no reason to end-stop this line with punctuation. Commas are generally not needed before "that" clauses, because they are definitive, and specify which of several options is meant in this case. In contrast, "which" clauses, being merely descriptive and therefore parenthetical, usually require that the speaker or reader pause for breath before them.

     Thats keeps one in a lifelong fog,. Pproceed

That "s" is surely a typo, and the run-on sentence can be fixed by making this two independent sentences.
(My belated added comments end here.)]

Again, welcome. My final advice is to remember that you do not have to take others' advice. The poet is always 100% responsible for deciding what changes, if any, to make in response to comments. If you allow yourself to be bullied, and/or to make changes in hopes of making others happy rather than to make the poem closer to what you want it to be, your work will be the worse for it. (Do thank those who take the time to comment, though, even if you disagree with them.)

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 01-22-2022 at 08:18 AM.
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  #3  
Unread 01-22-2022, 06:55 AM
Joe Crocker Joe Crocker is offline
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Hi Bob and welcome

I share Julie’s take on this. Her comments get to the heart of it.

For my own part, I did like the first line, which I think works well as a repetend and it offers scope for enjambment, which always adds a bit of interest. For example you could try something like

To spend a life in search of one who knows
the answers, leans upon a broken reed.
Each will only reap that which he sews

The sense I’m getting from your current L3 is the emptiness felt when the seeker discovers that no guru has the answers. In which case “none” at the end (as in “answer came there none”) would be better than “naught”. But Julie is right in that if you are going to use it as a repetend then it would be better to rhyme it with L1.

The language is oddly olde-worlde (eg e’er and naught and ‘round). Is there a reason for that?

I think the subject matter could work well as a villanelle, but I’m finding it a bit dense and hard to decipher at the moment.

Worth persevering with.

Joe
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  #4  
Unread 01-22-2022, 08:39 AM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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I endorse what Joe says (unsurprisingly, since he basically agreed with me). But Joe, I think you mean "sows" rather than "sews" in your example.
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  #5  
Unread 01-22-2022, 08:47 AM
Joe Crocker Joe Crocker is offline
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oops! yes "sow" not "sew"
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  #6  
Unread 01-22-2022, 08:56 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi Robert,

As Julie says, your third line is hard to decipher, which is a problem for so pivotal line. My best guess is it means something like: "of the dismal sight of one who knows, there's nothing" -- the dismal sight of one how knows is not found.

I do get the sense that you get the meaning of the final couplet to shift, which is good. We go from spending "a life in search of one who knows" to the spending, "a life in search of one who knows the dismal sight of one with answers". Though if that's the case, I wonder why the sight is initially dismal, in S1L3.

I also wonder why you want this to sound as if it were written a century or so ago, with "e'er" and "naught". And, as Julie says, why you don't follow the traditional rhyme scheme, since "naught" rhymes with nothing else in the poem.

best,

Matt
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  #7  
Unread 01-22-2022, 10:26 AM
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Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
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Hi,

I don’t know my villanelles from my paradelles or a rondeau from a rave, so you will not get much sense from me (sorry). Luckily, there are wiser people here, so that's fine.

I enjoyed the impossible tortuousness of this. It made me think of a figure walking backwards through an Escher painting. I like ‘diviner’ in S6, which I can read both as a water diviner (maybe holding a branch) and ‘more divine’, and ‘transpose’, which is such a curious word. I also like the dozing foggy seer, and the strange talking lamp amid the weeds. Like a kind of psychedelic medieval adventure.

I’m glad your narrator resolved their quest and isn’t searching to find a mediator between a miserable all-knowing trickster figure and themselves any more, if that is what they were seeking. Maybe they’ve reached the middle, or the start, of their maze.

Welcome!

Sarah-Jane
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  #8  
Unread 01-22-2022, 10:27 AM
Michael Cantor Michael Cantor is offline
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Rob - your crits on the Boards have been thorough, if overwritten and too quick to praise everything (six "beautiful"s in fifteen critiques is probably more than I've bestowed in twenty years of Sphere grumpiness) but display a real knowlege of poetry and feel for the details. I've been looking forward to your first post of your own work.

Unfortunately, I have to agree with Julie and Joe. We are attempting to create (I would hope) contemporary poetry, not period pieces, or poems that read like period pieces; but your poem sounds like it was written several hundred years ago, and is forced and old-fashioned to the point of silliness. What does

The endless quest for sill with lamp that glows
Bespeaking light that shines at last on weed,
The dismal sight of one with answers, naught.


mean? Did anyone ever speak this way?

Youi're articulate and well read. You have the tools. Why don't you back off this archaic style and try writing poetry in a contemporary voice. And (one of my pet peeves, although it's almost secondary here) ditch the initial caps along the way.

Last edited by Michael Cantor; 01-22-2022 at 10:32 AM.
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  #9  
Unread 01-22-2022, 11:56 AM
Robert Luis Rodriguez Robert Luis Rodriguez is offline
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Hi Julie - thanks for notes - I will take them to heart and accordingly respond in greater detail, later. I'm going to wait a week to two weeks (certaintly before I post again) and respond to all critiques at once, either indivdally or collectively; and in the meantime will critique other poems. Thanks for being among the first to critique. This note will go out those who have so far posted. Much appreciated.
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  #10  
Unread 01-22-2022, 11:57 AM
Robert Luis Rodriguez Robert Luis Rodriguez is offline
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Hi Joe - thanks for notes - I will take them to heart and accordingly respond in greater detail, later. I'm going to wait a week to two weeks (certaintly before I post again) and respond to all critiques at once, either indivdally or collectively; and in the meantime will critique other poems. Thanks for being among the first to critique. This note will go out those who have so far posted. Much appreciated.
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