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Forums > > Poetry Workshops > > Boot Camp > > Master of All He Surveys (revised)
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Master of All He Surveys (revised)


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loisseau
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22 16:01:32 EST 2008    Post subject: Master of All He Surveys (revised) Reply with quote

This vignette piece was written to read on the page and not out loud. Does it evoke any kind of visceral response? Is the metaphor of the king and court ironic in some way?

Original:

Master of All He Surveys

Green fescue grows sweetly
around him, as cicadas buzz
busily on this quiet summer day.

Face up and snoring, he lies asleep
in a stupor on the front lawn.
Neighborhood kids gingerly
walk by to see and gee
this beached whale of a man.

He rises with a snort, colossal king
on the playing field of his castle.
Ass scratched, he wobbles to the door

where a dull-eyed queen waits
with dinner. His sons, hands in
their pockets with pain, prepare
for another angry night
at the round table.

revised:

Green fescue grows around
him, as cicadas buzz busily
on this quiet summer day.

Face up and snoring, he lies asleep
in a stupor on the front lawn.
Neighborhood kids gingerly
walk by to see and gee
this beached whale of a man.

He rises with a snort, colossal king
on the playing field of his castle.
Ass scratched, he wobbles to the door

where a dull-eyed queen waits
with dinner. His sons, hands in
their pockets with pain, prepare
for another angry night
at the round table.


Last edited by loisseau on Sun Feb 24 21:14:42 EST 2008; edited 1 time in total
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Tony
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22 17:12:07 EST 2008    Post subject: Re: Master of All He Surveys Reply with quote

It works for me pretty much as is. The character reminds me a lot of Eliot's Sweeney brought forward to the current day and moved to the suburbs.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22 23:00:04 EST 2008    Post subject: Re: Master of All He Surveys Reply with quote

It took me a couple of read-throughs to get it, but once I did, I liked it a lot.

loisseau wrote:
Does it evoke any kind of visceral response?

Not in me. It's more a nod at the cleverness than evoking any emotions.

loisseau wrote:
Is the metaphor of the king and court ironic in some way?

To be honest, I didn't notice it when I read it, but now that you mention it, yes, absolutely.


A thought on language: take out the two "this"es to tighten up the language.

I especially love the lines:
beached whale of a man
dull-eyed queen


Good job, loisseau!

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 23 9:30:12 EST 2008    Post subject: Re: Master of All He Surveys Reply with quote

1. Of course it's bloody ironic.

2. Nothing profoud here, but the type of animal you're describing, when seen or heard in real life, tends to hit you in the gut, so yes, a visceral response of sorts. I don't like to see domestic abuse. It's both wrong and yet so personal and private to those involved, you are almost always powerless to do anything about it, for the situation will usually be worsened once you're gone. It's sad, this poem.

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Deleted_User_1997
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 23 9:50:43 EST 2008    Post subject: Re: Master of All He Surveys Reply with quote

L.
In what way do you mean "ironic"?

My visceral reaction is that you got her eyes wrong, that is if we are to see him as an angry man (a drunk?) and not just a loser/dullard. So because you are the creator of this particular world, the eyes made me stop and wonder.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 23 10:55:58 EST 2008    Post subject: Re: Master of All He Surveys Reply with quote

I enjoyed the ease of the pacing and the quick read of the poem. You could really dive right in.

For me, the most glaring problem with the poem is the angle which you chose to present the scene -- it simply is not intense enough. You're trying to approach a serious subject with child-like imagery. Why? What does your specific diction add to the scene which a more sanguine tone will omit? This is why I feel some might call this "clever" rather than "visceral."

Much of poem seems to lead toward a twist at the end, but when you attempt that technique, every line and word should build momentum toward it. Reading over the entire first stanza, I wonder why it's there?

Some technical questions:

How does something "grow sweetly?" What image could better represent this concept?

Cicadas are a very standard, unemotional image of warm weather. What could you use that would better suit the poem, knowing how it ends?

Why "this" summer day, rather than "a?"

If he's "face up and snoring," you don't need to then say he is asleep. Nor do you need to say he's in a stupor. Instead, have the man perform an action that suggests his inebriated state. Imply the state, don't blurt it out.

What does "see and gee" mean?

You don't need "of a man." The reader already knows he's a man. Also, why "this" again? Why not "the beached whale?" Also, the beached whale is a common, unemotional image, bordering on cliche. Everyone reaches for it.

I don't understand why you chose the specific phrasing "playing field." Can you elaborate?

Is the queen standing at the door with the dinner? If so, then why would she stand there only to go to the table? If not, then you need to change your phrasing.

What does it mean to have your hands "in your pockets with pain?" That doesn't make any sense.

What other forms could you use that would aid in building toward a twist?

Why did the moderator only write "It works for me pretty much as is. " when this is a venue for serious critique and discussion? If we all held to that standard, this wouldn't be much of a boot camp, would it? Smile Smile Smile
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Tony
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 23 11:20:49 EST 2008    Post subject: Re: Master of All He Surveys Reply with quote

I wrote "it pretty much works for me as it is" because it does. I like the slightly detached tone, presenting horrific facts as if viewed from a cool distance.

That said, I like your critique. We won't all come to the piece with the same reactions. While many of the points you make I don't agree with (I liked, for instance, the image of hands in pockets, perhaps clenching and unclenching, in a hidden response to pain), it's a good, tough, detailed critique.
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loisseau
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24 11:42:18 EST 2008    Post subject: Re: Master of All He Surveys Reply with quote

Quote:
For me, the most glaring problem with the poem is the angle which you chose to present the scene -- it simply is not intense enough. You're trying to approach a serious subject with child-like imagery. Why? What does your specific diction add to the scene which a more sanguine tone will omit? This is why I feel some might call this "clever" rather than "visceral."

blankface, The poem is written from a detached viewpoint. Perhaps from a neighbor's viewpoint.

Quote:
Much of poem seems to lead toward a twist at the end, but when you attempt that technique, every line and word should build momentum toward it. Reading over the entire first stanza, I wonder why it's there?

I don't see the piece building to a twist; I see the poem painting a painful common incident in these poeple's sad lives. The man is a drunk and a potential abuser. Many men see their homesteads as a castle; can do no wrong, and families often pay for this. The irony here is this man is hardly a king.

Sleep, snore and stupor are used alliteratively here.

The first stanza sets up the summer day, lazy sunbathing day. The day is sweet but what follows isn't. "this" sets the day as unique in a sense as distinct rather than any summer day.

"See" and "gee" is short form for seeing this guy and say geewhiz, with what ever observation the observer has to offer or think about.

playing field is the jousting field, the castle's spread of grass.

The poem is based on the metaphor of roylty and a castle; any other metaphor would muddy the piece.

Tony's workshop is predicated on intense critique where needed-if it works for him, so be it. Each piece needs to be closely read and commented on if you see fit. But not all poems as in the same shape.

Thanks for your close reading and comments.

L.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24 11:47:09 EST 2008    Post subject: Re: Master of All He Surveys Reply with quote

mayo, ironic in the sense the poem sees the man and his family as royalty,when it reads so common.

He's not angry yet in the poem, but the soon there will be harsh words at the dinner table; the wife is beaten down, perhaps physically but surely verbally, day after day until she is dull eyed with uncaring.

Thanks for commenting.

L.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24 11:57:09 EST 2008    Post subject: Re: Master of All He Surveys Reply with quote

I think my mistake in catching your irony was that I don't see the royalty as any different than the commoners.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24 12:11:31 EST 2008    Post subject: Re: Master of All He Surveys Reply with quote

mayo wrote:
I think my mistake in catching your irony was that I don't see the royalty as any different than the commoners.

Yeah, but they see themselves that way.

I thought of the old Honeymooners' line, "I'm the king of the castle!" when I read this.


Last edited by Tony on Sun Feb 24 12:16:10 EST 2008; edited 1 time in total
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loisseau
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24 12:13:35 EST 2008    Post subject: Re: Master of All He Surveys Reply with quote

In retrospect, ain't that the truth! Ancient royalty then.

L.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24 12:58:10 EST 2008    Post subject: Re: Master of All He Surveys Reply with quote

You asked if it created any visceral response, and I gave you reasons why I thought it did not. If you already thought the poem was perfect, why bother bringing it to workshop? Smile
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24 15:03:37 EST 2008    Post subject: Re: Master of All He Surveys Reply with quote

I didn't think the piece was perfect-lordfuznut explained why the piece provoked a response, so he got what I was trying to do. It didn't with you, and you explained why not. Now it's up to me to change the piece if I think I need to, having gotten input.

L.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24 15:18:28 EST 2008    Post subject: Re: Master of All He Surveys Reply with quote

L, overall, I like this piece. The irony is understated, but it is there in the contrast between the king of the castle and the rather pedestrian reality. It gets a bit sharper when you realize that he truly -is- king of his castle, inspiring fear and resentment in his 'subjects' - he may be a figure of ridicule out on that lawn, but inside the door, his word is law, no matter how much his family hates it.

Two notes on word choice: I almost stopped reading at the end of the first line - as precise as your word choice is everywhere else in the poem, 'sweetly' just doesn't work for me. I tend to not like adverbs used that way anyway - so take this as you will. Would you get the same pastoral feeling if you moved the sweet to the front of the line and used "Sweet green fescue grows"?

The second is the use of the word "ready". I read through several times before it finally hit my ear as a verb rather than an adjective. I know that it's a perfectly legitimate use of the word - but I wonder if "prepare" gives the same meaning without the confusion?
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24 21:07:24 EST 2008    Post subject: Re: Master of All He Surveys Reply with quote

Cham, both suggestions are spot on. I'll revise the poem to reflect your comments. Thanks!

L.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26 7:33:13 EST 2008    Post subject: Re: Master of All He Surveys (revised) Reply with quote

Quote: 'What does it mean to have your hands "in your pockets with pain?" That doesn't make any sense. - Blankface


If you don't get that, or you need it clarified, classified and 6 X magnified...forget poetry.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 4 10:57:01 EST 2008    Post subject: Re: Master of All He Surveys (revised) Reply with quote

Lol... I think, that the poem, in itself, was rather good... the only thing that I really didnt like, was the way that the first verse was introduced.... I think that if you used smaller words, in the first verse.... something other, rather then, fescue... you might capture more people's attention...
Other then that...
after the first verse...
I have no complaints what-so-ever, and mainly agree, with Tony.
thanks for the opportunity to read it...
I was, thankfully, impressed....

These are my thoughts... take them as they are.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 4 17:26:43 EST 2008    Post subject: Re: Master of All He Surveys (revised) Reply with quote

Thanks, FroznChild, for your input.

L.
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