Conciseness, Regardless

As a gift from a flatmate, I got this magazine called “First Edition”, with 18 amateur Short Stories, and some poems too. While some of the stories were awful in their own individual ways, it’s a real treat to read through something imperfect and see the flaws, and learn from them. That said, I have found one short story that totally surprised me (called “Time Line” by Peter Marshall), so I shouldn’t go into reading these stories with an automatic superior sneer.

I also found a poem that shall remain nameless, for fear of Google Searches. It was a poem about a river, and here is a sample verse:

Down I trickle softly and gently

Rippling and darting during my flow

On cold dark days I travel fast and wild

Shadows of trees cast by the glistening sun

In summer and spring stillness affects my current

Cold winds brush against my surface water.

a

brook

I may as well mention that the whole poem is 6 verses  of the same and similar, and that there’s no rhyme scheme, but it’s designed so the final word of each line, “gently, flow, wild, sun, current, water” is repeated in each verse in a different order.   No wonder it sounded repetitive.

This actually brings out what I consider one of my biggest weaknesses – piling adjective upon adjective (upon descriptive noun). Even in that extract I posted Mid-Week, the line I considered powerful was “your slow, tedious ascent” – two adjectives together, and the “slow” is pretty well explained in the “tedious” anyway.

So why do I do it? Partly so it fits some kind of internal rhythm known only to me. And partly because I believe that sometimes a piling up of adjectives is more powerful. In spoken conversation, it would be like thrnking of an adjective, then thinking of a better one, which multiplies the first. Which is usually how I come up with them.

Anyway, my writing task for my Midweek post is to take the complete and unwieldy poem above and trim it to something better.

In the meantime, here’s another river-related poem – and one of the first poems I wrote.

Regardless

The stream rolled on regardless

Bending, burbling on

Under the shelter of the bare sycamore.

It ran, full to the grassy banks

Glistening in the dying blush of day.

Even with that little light

You can still see cool pebbles at the bottom,

And the shadows dancing over them.

a

A score of yards upstream, its path is stark

And wedged tight by tall concrete pillars

Over which the motorway runs.

There, constant carbon wilts the brookside flower,

And it is never dark, for when sunlight fades,

Two new rivers appear each night

Crawling against each opposite course,

One blinding white, one warning red,

The streams roll on, regardless.

Regardless
Regardless
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3 thoughts on “Conciseness, Regardless”

  1. The form’s called a sestina and can be incredibly beautiful when done nicely:
    http://www.sccs.swarthmore.edu/users/03/ahead/sestina.html

    http://www.cosmoetica.com/TOP29-DES27.htm (the second poem down – the popeye one)

    Repetition can be very beautiful. The problem, I think, with the poem you quote is that some lines are nonsensical:

    I summer and spring stillness affects my current

    and that the poet can’t make up his or her mind whether the flow is ‘soft’, ‘gentle’, ‘rippling’, ‘darting’, ‘fast’ or ‘wild’, some of which contradict each other.
    (And the fact that the sun doesn’t glisten.)

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