June 4th, 2010
|10:32 am - St Martin's Day|
I've posted this poem before, but I have reworked it a little. I have three issues or reservations about it. I am not sure whether 'infinite mercy' is too much of a cliche that it sounds like nothing. A more serious thought is whether it is OK to write about a person, to sort of cannibalise someone else's tragedy to make a poem. And finally I am not sure whether I should try to expunge all pretentious references from my poems, even though my own thoughts are pretentious.
St Martin's Day by the way is the 11th November, the day of Remembrance, and a day of the dead going further back.
St Martin's Day
Her son was dead
In a police station
He took his own life
Many years before
Her eyes focussed on emptiness
Seeing the eyeless room
In which he died
I told her god has infinite mercy
I know, she said, that
He is barred from grace
In the brick walls of a police station
Take me to that place she said
Admit me to his cell
She thought his spirit
Would leach out of the walls
Into her body
And she could walk out with his soul
Entangled in her flesh
Like Orpheus from Hades
Inanna from the underworld
Who rises through the soil
With all the foetal souls clinging to her
Shackled by suicides
A chain of sons
What about 'merciful'? It depends whether you want it to be tentative or definite: 'merciful' to my ear being more tentative (a dactyl, I think?) 'mercy' more definite, and matched by 'grace' in the third line. You might not need 'infinite' before 'mercy' anyway.
Yes, I think 'I told her god is merciful' might be better, thank you
|Date:||June 4th, 2010 10:16 am (UTC)|| |
Is there a case for leaving it as it is precisely because it might sound like nothing to this woman ?
That is a good point, and also I said it like that because I was straining to make some kind of effect on her. I don't know.
|Date:||June 4th, 2010 12:34 pm (UTC)|| |
Something about this discussion - I'm not sure what; I'm enjoying the specific discussion of infinite/merciful but have nothing really to add about it - moves me to say that part of the effect/power of this section of the poem, for me, comes from the enjambment in
I know, she said, that
He is barred...
because I read it first like 'I know that!' and then it reverses its meaning, which is just really powerful. (Wouldn't work in the same way spoken/performed, but then other effects would come in that you don't get in the written version: two different art forms, in a way.)
Yes, I did want to get that, and I try to read it a bit like that too.
It is interesting how differently poems read vs sound. One of the poets in my group is dyslexic but he uses a lot of unwritable content such as shouts and sounds
On your other questions, I don't think it's pretentious. And I certainly don't think what you're doing is 'cannibalising' (although I understand what you're worried about).
It all worked very well for me, until I got to Inanna. It sort of read to me as though Orpheus was dragging Inanna, which I know wasn't what you intended.
I suspect that would not be a problem when the poem is read aloud.
And I am slightly worried that she is less well known
I know her as a named goddess, but I wasn't familiar with the myth of her entering the underworld until I went and looked her up - and I am now confused by the reference to her and suicides and foetuses as they aren't part of the legend I read.