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Forums > > Poetry Workshops > > The Rewrite Workshop > > As I Contemplated Midnight
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As I Contemplated Midnight


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Pugilist
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PostPosted: Thu May 19 19:59:26 EDT 2011    Post subject: As I Contemplated Midnight Reply with quote

As I Contemplated Midnight

I sat on the bed and listened;
I listened to her as she slept
and recalled the conversation
we'd had earlier that evening
where my heart spilled in a torrent
of hopes for a life together
of dreams I longed to share with her
then I took her hand and waited.

I waited for her to answer
and held my breath through the quiet
as she leaned over and kissed me
and I ignored that her passion,
her caress, her willing body
was an answer of mere moments
and would never be anything
that would mean a life together.

But since that would not be enough
and since my world could not contract
to little more than emptiness
to nothing more than loneliness
I brushed her hair gently away
then kissed her lightly one last time
and slipped from the desolation
and found that I could breathe again.

Motivation and Focus

This was a writing exercise, not an auto-biographical instance. I had provided a rating and abbreviated critique for another poet's work and they challenged me to give them an example of what I meant so this is it.

Technically this is tetrameter blank verse. Tetrameter is the meter in which I work most comfortably and when I am doing something like this, an example in a short time frame, I trend to it.

What I ma looking for in a critique is a review of flow and form. Does it scan well and does it tell a story satisfactory? Does it drag anywhere and does it conclude well?

Any input is greatly appreciated.

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scmatsuura
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PostPosted: Sat May 21 14:05:04 EDT 2011    Post subject: Re: As I Contemplated Midnight Reply with quote

Hi Pugilist--

Thank you for your critiques of my work. You've given me a lot to think about.

I think the meter is spot-on and the cadence is good. You have some fine "sound-bridges", that unify the piece. Your sound is subtle and elegant.

Though your piece is solid in form, I felt as if the narrative could be reworked slightly. The use of abstraction: hopes, dreams, and desolation could be replaced with more concrete imagery. To me, the abstraction distanced me from the narrative making it seem a little clinical/scientific.

I was also wondering how this piece would sound in the present tense. This may help to flesh out some of the images and create tension.
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Pugilist
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PostPosted: Sat May 21 15:49:27 EDT 2011    Post subject: Re: As I Contemplated Midnight Reply with quote

I vacillated between past and present tense on this. I will take another look and update it.

Thanks for the review and suggestions.

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electrictiger
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PostPosted: Sat May 21 22:14:28 EDT 2011    Post subject: Re: As I Contemplated Midnight Reply with quote

I particularly like the closing - the last two lines are especially haunting

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Pugilist
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PostPosted: Mon May 23 12:02:45 EDT 2011    Post subject: Re: As I Contemplated Midnight Reply with quote

I've made some changes. The tense suggestion was a good one and I smoothed out the end of stanza 1 and the mid part of stanza 3.

I appreciate the feedback and suggestions on this.

--------------------------------

As I Contemplated Midnight

I sit on the bed and listen;
I listen to her as she sleeps
and recall the conversation
we'd had earlier that evening
where my heart spilled in a torrent
of hopes for a life together
of dreams I longed to share with her
as I took her hand and waited.

I waited for her to answer
and held my breath through the quiet
as she leaned over and kissed me
and I ignored that her passion,
her caress, her willing body
was an answer of mere moments
and would never be anything
that would mean a life together.

But since this would not be enough
and since my world could not contract
to little more than emptiness
to nothing more than loneliness
I brushed the hair from her forehead
then kissed her lightly as she slept
and slipped from the desolation
and found that I could breathe again.

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electrictiger
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PostPosted: Tue May 24 2:55:27 EDT 2011    Post subject: Re: As I Contemplated Midnight Reply with quote

I prefer your rewrite. It's also a bit more accessible.

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Ozymandias
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PostPosted: Wed May 25 5:39:20 EDT 2011    Post subject: Re: As I Contemplated Midnight Reply with quote

For me the repeated words "would" and "since" at end of S2 and beginning of S3 mar it a bit. I don't say it's a major flaw, but they seem to bring in an element of ratiocination which is rather at odds with poetry.

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Pugilist
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PostPosted: Wed May 25 7:02:01 EDT 2011    Post subject: Re: As I Contemplated Midnight Reply with quote

Oz,

thanks for the review and comment. I will take a look at both and see what I can manage.

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Pugilist
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PostPosted: Wed May 25 11:40:02 EDT 2011    Post subject: Re: As I Contemplated Midnight Reply with quote

Modifications to the end of S2 and beginning of S3 to remove word repetition that presented stumbles to some readers.

Upon reflection and review, I had to agree that the repetitions did not add to the mood in these cases. Plus by using could/would and then would/could I believe it creates a nicer tie-in between the stanza and lends an air of deliberate intent to the lines that is a foreshadowing of the final lines.

As I Contemplated Midnight

I sit on the bed and listen;
I listen to her as she sleeps
and recall the conversation
we'd had earlier that evening
where my heart spilled in a torrent
of hopes for a life together
of dreams I longed to share with her
as I took her hand and waited.

I waited for her to answer
and held my breath through the quiet
as she leaned over and kissed me
and I ignored that her passion,
her caress, her willing body
was an answer of mere moments
and could never be anything
that would mean a life together.

But since this would not be enough
because my world could not contract
to little more than emptiness
to nothing more than loneliness
I brushed the hair from her forehead
then kissed her lightly as she slept
and slipped from the desolation
and found that I could breathe again.

-----------------------------------

A final note on structure. When I write a natural break at the end of a line, I will generally capitalise the first letter of all lines as a way to play on the mini-break, like that half beat between thoughts when we speak. When I write in blank verse, I tend to capitalize according to standard sentence structure because even though the meter is controlled, I am looking to create a quality of conversation and conversation does not have an exact meter.

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PostPosted: Fri May 27 9:13:56 EDT 2011    Post subject: Re: As I Contemplated Midnight Reply with quote

In your original post you said "Does it scan well and does it tell a story satisfactory?

I have little to offer as to blank verse and meter. But for me a poem does not “tell” but rather builds images to “show” the story to the reader.
I’ve copied your first verse and then attempted to give an example of what I mean by “show.”

I sat on the bed and listened;
of my dream of a future together
I listened to her as she slept
and recalled the conversation
we'd had earlier that evening
where my heart spilled in a torrent
of hopes for a life together
of dreams I longed to share with her
then I took her hand and waited.

Here is my attempt to “show the reader what you want to convey.

Sounds of cotton on cotton
break the silent stillness.
She stirs, restless in her sleep.
My chest heaves, hot and empty
of my dreams spilled before her
in pleas for a life together,
in torrents she did not absorb,
in a deluge she did not acknowledged.
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Pujakins
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PostPosted: Fri May 27 21:15:23 EDT 2011    Post subject: Re: As I Contemplated Midnight Reply with quote

Vexations, I really liked what you wrote. It helped me to see that what bothered me about Pugalist's poem was its bloodlessness. Granted it was an exercise, howeer it struck me as kind of trite in its sentiment--no offense intended here, and the poor dear thing is afer all an exercise, still... it could to my mind have been more impactful with the kind of approach Vexations suggests. Warm Wishes, Tasha

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Pugilist
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PostPosted: Fri May 27 22:06:14 EDT 2011    Post subject: Re: As I Contemplated Midnight Reply with quote

I guess we'll have to disagree.

I appreciate the difference of opinion and understand folks like different things out of poetry but I find the rewrite overbearing and filled with too much angst for my tastes.

I admit, I write in an older style with more inference and less loudness, more passion, less lust, but it's not a style everyone cares for.

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PostPosted: Sun May 29 14:34:01 EDT 2011    Post subject: Re: As I Contemplated Midnight Reply with quote

Yes, older style, I guess that is it. You have a Victorian approach, I believe, or so it sems to me, perhaps more classically oriented, or more like poets of the late 19th century. It is good to know this and to be able to understand your comments accordingly. Warm Regards, Tasha

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