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  #1  
Unread 09-30-2022, 04:24 PM
Sarah-Jane Crowson's Avatar
Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
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Default Rewilding the Restoration

The Whole Duty of a Woman
Being directions, how women of all qualities and conditions,
ought to behave themselves in the various circumstances of this life


While Dukes are fucking mistresses (or whimper
that their pricks are limp) you must be good
instead. Lock up your dowry jewels and simper.
Salt and seal. Preserve your maidenhood.

The clues to happiness scatter like hares
before a knife. You kneel before the oven
gods or altar, unjoyn bitterns, peel pears,
and whiten linen so you don’t seem sloven.

He dies. You’re gutting eels and you’re not frantik
from grief when widowed, or too much disturbed.
They say, “you’ll have more time to pray and physick
once your Husband’s decently interred”.

But 'till it's midnight, history’s unfixed
so let’s whisk up some kitchen Alchemicks.




[size="2"]
Version Four
Come hunt with me. But will this book hide jewels
intended for your singular advantage?
Its moral compass seeks the world’s approvals.
Meekness is a pearl and Love explanted
to a moral diadem. The clues
to happiness scatter like hares. Romantik?
No (it’s shewn here as a course for Fools).
Be dutiful (it says), but don’t be frantik
from grief when widowed, or too much disturbed.
It promises more time to pray and physick
once your Husband’s decently interred.
A kitchen's not a place for Alchemicks.
But in a mischief-whisk we'll stir up gender
and turn dull tracts to spells, raise new adventure.

New image, with, I hope, a little bit of Twelfth Night about it



[two minor extra changes, from 'A treasure hunt' at start to 'Come hunt with me' and a different quotation]. The 'hunt with me' might make more sense with the picture & I'll try to embed that later.


Version Three
The whole duty of a woman: or a guide to the female sex
After a Lady, fl. 1701.
Look hard enough, and in this book are jewels
intended for your singular advantage.
Be Pious, Chaste, don’t seek the world’s approvals.
Don’t dream too much, your wishes won’t be granted.
But, alchemy exists and offers rules
for more than Moral happiness. Romantic?
Nope (the book says that's a path for fools).
Be dutiful (it says) never be frantick
in grief when widowed, or too much disturbed.
(it promises more time to pray and physick
once your Husband’s decently interred).
But hereinafter, in a mischief-whisk
of reinvention, let’s reclaim our gender
and turn tracts into spells, make new adventure.



edited 'forget' to 'reclaim' in final line as first was too much from the perspective of the book, similarly 'find' to 'make' as this works better with spirit of project.

Second Version (substantial edit so I haven't tried to track word-level changes)
Intended for your singular advantage,
throughout your life, this cabinet of jewels
will keep you safe, secure the world’s approvals.
Each rule’s a pearl that you can wear, explanted
into a moral diadem. Be branded
as a Pious maid (then Wife). Though fools
might screech or set up heels in bawdy mewls
you will be Meek. Never be Frantick

in grief when widowed, or too much disturbed.
Ensure your Happiness for ever after
(once your Husband’s decently interred)
by not remarrying. Hereinafter,
now your Earthly duties have been cleared
you can brew cordials, physicks for laughter.


Edits to make the whole thing a bit less allusive to the complexities of the source text and (hopefully) a bit less mixed-message/ clearer/ less pastiche.

Image-sequence here I want to use the book as a source text to accompany each re-imagined portrait, but not all of them will be sonnets, some found text etc.


First version
Intended for your singular advantage,
virgin to grave, this cabinet of jewels
holds wisdoms to ensure the world’s approvals.
Each word’s a pearl that you can wear, explanted
from nature into diadem. Romantick?
Intemperance is weaker than soft mewls.
To set heels upwards is a course for fools.
Do not be delicate. Never be frantick

in grief when widowed, or too much disturbed.
Ensure Happiness, in God and ever after
(be sure your Husband’s decently interred)
by not remarrying. Hereinafter,
now your Duty’s shewn you’re not perturbed,
I’ll shew you cordials, physicks for laughter.

Image here.

Last edited by Sarah-Jane Crowson; 10-17-2022 at 04:25 PM. Reason: revision posted
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  #2  
Unread 09-30-2022, 04:46 PM
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RCL RCL is offline
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A butterfly’s brilliant life is brief
Time's its unrelenting thief

Quickly fluttering by, I’m thinking of this as a pastiche of the prose inspiration. Its adaptation of the 17th century language is a neat meta commentary on content and the source’s prescriptions for young ladies. Kool !
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Last edited by RCL; 09-30-2022 at 07:34 PM.
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  #3  
Unread 09-30-2022, 05:45 PM
Carl Copeland Carl Copeland is offline
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Having just attempted a pastiche sonnet of my own, I’m totally into this, Sarah-Jane. I especially love the jewel conceit of the first five lines. Two comments and a couple of questions:

The headless L13 is a minor flaw in such a gem of a poem, but the preceding feminine ending helps smooth it over.

“Relies on no remarriage” is ambiguous. My typically careless first reading was “Does not rely on remarrying” rather than “Relies on not remarrying.” This won’t be a problem for readers with half a brain.

In what sense is “Romantick” used, and what is it asking?

“Physicks” are medicines, I take it, and a “cordial” may be a tonic, but why “for laughter”? Anything to do with Restoration comedy?

Oh, and why the line break between octave and sestet? To make the enjambment more precipitous?

Believe it or not, I love this poem just as it is!

Carl

P.S. I’m even less an art critic than a poetry critic, but the colors are exquisite!

Last edited by Carl Copeland; 09-30-2022 at 06:07 PM.
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Unread 09-30-2022, 06:41 PM
Sarah-Jane Crowson's Avatar
Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
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Thank you so much Ralph and Carl,

The context of this is that I've been obsessively making images which collage Peter Lely's paintings with moths for a while now, but just as images, really, not poetry. Unsure as to why I’m doing this, I started to read similar aged texts which written by women, to see if I might give the subject of the portraiture a kind of voice.

I haven't done the text I use in this one justice in the poem, particularly the religious aspects, which, in my reading, combines spiritual, pragmatic and social/self interest.

I wanted it to be more than pastiche, and I’ll have to think about that, but it’s super-useful to know that this is how it comes across at the moment. By using the sonnet form I want it to play off contemporary (mostly M-authored) equivalents - hence the conceit - but I’m very very glad to know that I pulled that aspect of the poem off, as I nearly wrote that bit out to substitute for something more explanatory.

Carl, the 'for laughter' was because when I read through the recipes at the end of the book, many of them contain opiates or alcohol and are to remedy complaints like 'distemper'.

The break was just to help me write the poem, but because I have a turn in the octave I also felt that the white space helped show/enforce the smaller turn in the sestet.

'Romantik' initially was a question with an answer 'No!' but it didn't scan - I want to show how this text is unromantic, sharing that the binaries of pragmatism/sensibility occurred in texts and life long before Jane Austen wrote about them. In my reading the source text is such, such, a pragmatic text, wrapped up in spirituality, but it uses godliness as a justification for a pragmatic sensibility. But yours is a great question as I'm using a phrase which is post-text-reference and I will rethink & revise.

I'll look at your other points, too, and thank you both hugely. Most, most helpful.

Sarah-Jane
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  #5  
Unread 10-01-2022, 11:27 AM
Carl Copeland Carl Copeland is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl Copeland View Post
“Relies on no remarriage” is ambiguous. My typically careless first reading was “Does not rely on remarrying” rather than “Relies on not remarrying.”
I could have done a better job of explaining this misreading. “Do not be delicate” didn’t seem like a traditional instruction for the “weaker sex,” and this, followed by advice not to be disturbed by a husband’s death—coming at the point where we might expect a volta—made me think the poem might have taken a feminist turn: a woman can be strong and independent and find happiness without a new husband to take care of her. It took me a few re-readings to work out the misunderstanding. I still love the poem as is, but I know you like to be aware of what goes through the head of a less skillful reader.

Carl

Last edited by Carl Copeland; 10-01-2022 at 11:32 AM.
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  #6  
Unread 10-01-2022, 05:20 PM
Sarah-Jane Crowson's Avatar
Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
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Carl, you are a skilful reader, and what I was trying to do in the poem was set up an ambiguity. But I'm not quite clever enough to do it, or it's not right for this poem. I've tidied.

Also, for me (there is no 'right' or 'wrong' perspective here) I see it as my job - the poet's job - to make things clear for the reader, or lead the reader clearly on a journey of surprise - not the readers job to decode me.

I have never bought into the myth of the poet-as-myth-figure. But I am horribly prosaic, to be fair, and I don't want to dismiss people who deify or identify with that kind of sublime poet-figure. Also, y'know if I was as good as Graves or Dickinson I might be tempted (but I'm not).

Anyway, I've edited - quite quickly as I'm burning the candle at both ends this weekend, meeting multiple deadlines. I haven't even tried to wonder about 'Romantic' yet, but I am thinking about it. I need to do more research to find out when/what 'romantic' meant in 1701.

Again, though - thank you - revision posted

Sarah-Jane
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Unread 10-02-2022, 09:37 PM
Cally Conan-Davies Cally Conan-Davies is offline
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G'day Sarah-Jane!

I've been returning to your poem for days, but haven't responded yet because I've been unsure about what the poem is, so I haven't felt able to say anything helpful. Today, I've had some time to read about 'docupoetics', a term I haven't heard before, but that I now understand to be another example of 'everything old is new again'. I read that The Georgics are an early form of 'docupoetry', using existing documents, such as manuals etc to make something lyrical. It made me think immediately of Henry Reed's "Naming of Parts", which kills me every time I read it; and of course Layli Long Soldier in Whereas which contains the equally devastating '38'.

So, now I see you're making a sonnet from an historical document, and hoping to take it to another place, or skew the overt intention of the source. I see from your comments that you intend to establish an ambiguity, and perhaps this is the element that isn't coming through to me at the moment. So all I can suggest at this point is that perhaps you could skew it more forcefully so that the ambiguity really cracks open.

It's a fascinating process you're engaged in, with lashings of creative potential. And I love the image, especially the blues.

I've learned heaps from following this! Thanks!

Cally
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Unread 10-03-2022, 01:51 AM
W T Clark W T Clark is offline
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Sarah,
I think you're problem is that while you've been able to shape the source into a sonnet, the critical angle, or the satirical, or the interrogative, hasn't come across, leaving this to appear as pastiche. Although I can see doubts, even critiques in "do not be delicate", and in the ambiguous double-negatives of "not remarrying", I think you need to find a stronger, clearer way to place this as a text under interrogation or critique.

For your "Ensure happiness" line to work as standard pentameter we must pronounce "happiness" as a two syllable word, which I find hard to believe. Also, "happiness" as two syllables is a trochee, and an unpuctuated second beat is a strange place for a typical trochaic substitution. Also, as a typical three syllable word, "happiness" is stressed, unnstressed, semi-stressed, which also throws the line off.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by W T Clark; 10-03-2022 at 01:53 AM.
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Unread 10-03-2022, 04:13 AM
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Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
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Cally and Cameron, thank you so much.

Your thoughts are very helpful and because of this dialogue I think I've nailed what's wrong with this (in a grander scale than the metrical bits) and what to do about it.

I need to be completely secure of my own position/ own thoughts on the source text, and I'm currently not. What I've done here is summarised it. And that's not enough. I'm trying to stay very true to the text, but it is sounding like pastiche. So, more of my interpretation brought to the poem, and it'll probably be a less accurate summary - less sensitive way to work with the text, but if I have more of a clarity of position I can bring in that force to drive the poem forward one way or another. I'm convinced the sonnet form is the right choice.

All good.

This is, I hope, the start of a longer project. I love the recipes in the text and I want to use them, and different forms (erasure etc - the forms I'm used to using) to accompany a set of images.

The image isn't the strongest one I've made, but I think I'm in a sweet spot with those. More here if anyone is interested (ignore the text on these though as I want to try this different approach for them, avoiding collaged words)

Thank you again. I will work on a revision over the week.

Sarah-Jane
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  #10  
Unread 10-04-2022, 02:15 PM
David Callin David Callin is offline
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First of all, brilliant title.

But I might as well leave it there for now, as you appear to be working on a major revision. Unless you want further comment on the original? If so, just say the word.

Cheers

David
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