Life of Pride (revised)

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CalebPerry
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Mon Oct 11, 2021 7:04 pm

First revision

Life of Pride

Life doesn’t last forever, I once wrote.
The hard part is to stay alive while dying.
Four score is the gift most of us are given.
My heart’s alarm is getting close to crying.

This is a time of reflection and regret,
to wish I’d turned to right instead of left,
to untie the stubborn knots made hard
by lying; now’s a time to be bereft.

I saw myself a giant on a giant stage,
then realized I hadn’t much to say,
so spent my life gathering my marbles to
my chest, that kept trying to roll away.

Now in old age, I’m only qualified
to sing of failure, loneliness, decay,
the hollow space inside the tree, to weep
about my life of pride that went astray.

[I didn't fix every problem, but I think I smoothed the language a little.]

==================

Original

Life of Pride

Life doesn’t last forever, I once wrote.
The hard part is to feel alive while dying.
Four score is all that most of us are given.
The timer’s bell is getting close to crying.

This is the time for reflection and regret,
to wish that I’d turned right instead of left,
for untying the complicated knots
I tied not looking; for feeling bereft.

I saw myself a giant on a giant stage,
then realized I hadn’t many things to say,
then spent my life gathering my marbles to
my chest, that insisted on rolling away.

Now in old age, I’m qualified to sing
about failure, loss, loneliness, decay,
about the hollow space inside the tree,
about the life of pride that went astray.

~end~

I tend to write a lot of "moan and groan" poems, and I wonder if this one isn't too "out there" in that regard. When you've lived a disappointing life, disappointment is what you know how to write about.
Last edited by CalebPerry on Tue Oct 12, 2021 10:37 pm, edited 16 times in total.
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If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.
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Leaf
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Mon Oct 11, 2021 7:22 pm

Hi Caleb,

Good to see you posting a poem. I don't mind a bit of moan 'n' groan :)

The tone's fairly flat throughout, which suits the subject matter. It's particularly flat, I think, in S1, where each line is made up of a sentence, and also with your use of repetition: in S3, 'then'; in S4, 'about'.

You have a solid rhyme scheme and some effective imagery. I wonder whether there's more to be written about specifically how N spent life gathering marbles to chest and whether there are particular stories of failure and so on that would make for additional poems. Just a few thoughts there.

Best wishes,
Leaf
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CalebPerry
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Mon Oct 11, 2021 8:08 pm

Thank you, Leaf.

I gather that "flat" isn't good, even though you seem to think it's not so bad in this poem.

I've never had a problem with repetition, especially when it's intentional, and also when the words being repeated are business words, but I'll see if I can find another way to say those things.

I'm more satisfied with this poem than I think you are, with the exception of the overall moan-and-groan attitude, but perhaps that's because I've become complacent writing in my usual lingo. I'll have to think about that.

Thanks again for your input.

==============

Nah, maybe not. The more I read it the more choppy and disjointed it seems.
If you don't like the black theme, it is easy to switch to a lighter color. Just ask me how.

If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.
Macavity
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Tue Oct 12, 2021 5:39 am

Hi Caleb,
I feel the tone of the poem works. The writing comes across as honest. In terms of critique, and it is a bias of mine, but I find the line ending weak for L11. You have mentioned a wariness about rhyme, but I felt nothing forced.
ambition gathered marbles to my chest
but all insisted on rolling away
Just a thought

Phil
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CalebPerry
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Tue Oct 12, 2021 6:05 am

Thank you, Phil.

Let me try to explain line 11.

I agree that it's weak. Sometimes I have to separate a line in the middle to make it fit the meter. When I do, I separate it on an upbeat:

then SPENT / my LIFE / GATH ring / my MAR / bles TO
my CHEST /

Now, that doesn't mean that the line-ending isn't weak -- it is. But by ending it on an iamb, I try to mitigate the weakness somewhat. The idea is that the reader should read through to the next line without a pause. But of course, it's still weak, so I need to find a way to fix that. If I can accomplish it, this would be better:

then SPENT /
my LIFE / GATH ring / my MAR / bles TO / my CHEST /

I'll see what I can do.

(When I write out my reasons and/or thoughts like this, it is only because I am interested in the vagaries of meter. I'm not pretending to instruct the rest of you.)

Basically, however, I've decided the language needs smoothing. I feel that I got the right combination of smoothness and creativity in the poem about the caskets, but I need to work on this one.
If you don't like the black theme, it is easy to switch to a lighter color. Just ask me how.

If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.
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Leaf
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Tue Oct 12, 2021 8:41 am

CalebPerry wrote:
Mon Oct 11, 2021 8:08 pm
Thank you, Leaf.

I gather that "flat" isn't good, even though you seem to think it's not so bad in this poem.

I've never had a problem with repetition, especially when it's intentional, and also when the words being repeated are business words, but I'll see if I can find another way to say those things.

I'm more satisfied with this poem than I think you are, with the exception of the overall moan-and-groan attitude, but perhaps that's because I've become complacent writing in my usual lingo. I'll have to think about that.

Thanks again for your input.

==============

Nah, maybe not. The more I read it the more choppy and disjointed it seems.
You're welcome, Caleb

I think flat is apt. That's how N feels, isn't it? It just seems the right tone for a moan 'n' groan. So the repetition fits and I wouldn't change it. I like the poem :)

Best wishes,
Leaf
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CalebPerry
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Tue Oct 12, 2021 10:19 am

No, you were right in what you said. The poem needs improving. I've improved it a little, but I didn't do the major rewrite I intended.
If you don't like the black theme, it is easy to switch to a lighter color. Just ask me how.

If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.
Macavity
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Tue Oct 12, 2021 3:17 pm

I see Caleb. I had three syllables for gathering, but I pronounce it with two.

Phil
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CalebPerry
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Tue Oct 12, 2021 6:28 pm

Yeah, the number of syllables I count are always the ones I actually pronounce.
If you don't like the black theme, it is easy to switch to a lighter color. Just ask me how.

If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.
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Leaf
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Tue Oct 12, 2021 7:16 pm

Yes, the language has been smoothed :)
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Firebird
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Thu Oct 14, 2021 10:17 pm

Hi Perry,

I like both drafts, but I think the first is somehow less contrived and feels more honest and I slightly prefer it. . The poem works really well. It has strong, effective imagery and it develops clearly with a convincing conclusion. I think the second line in the first version (The hard part is to feel alive while dying.) is fantastic and would not change it. In fact, I’d be tempted to start the poem with it, just because I like it a great deal.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,

Tristan
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CalebPerry
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Sun Oct 17, 2021 4:47 am

Thank you, Tristan.

If I had seen your comment come in a couple days ago, I would have responded sooner.

I have concluded that the poem is a profound-sounding failure, but that it has some good lines which I could cannibalize for another poem -- such as the one you mentioned, "The hard part is to feel alive while dying." At the age of 71, with a lot of health problems, and few friends, I am feeling that a lot these days. I understand what I am trying to say in the poem (and it would seem that I reached you with my message), but there is just too much awkwardness in the language.

I don't mean to be ungrateful for your praise, however. Having given me your praise, and respecting your judgement, I'll see if I can't salvage the poem in its present form.

Thanks again.
If you don't like the black theme, it is easy to switch to a lighter color. Just ask me how.

If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.
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Firebird
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Sun Oct 17, 2021 9:24 am

Hi Perry,

I don’t think honest poems with an authentic voice, like this, are ever a failure. I think it’s fine as it is. But stay with it. It’s worth the effort.

Cheers,

Tristan
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