Sunday, May 14, 2006

Weird world

Recently I got an email asking permission to use one of my poems in a church service. The poem was probably written when I was in college - I don't remember the circumstances. However, despite the title, Grace, and a touch of religousesque imagery, it was probably inspired by a young woman, and not of the Beatrice sort. But ok, even if I'm as rabid an atheist as I can be, and tend to think religion has been a malign influence in history, these seemed like nice people and I said ok.

I haven't really managed to learn the important writerly craft of distance - most of my work still gives me pleasure. The verse in question however doesn't seem like something I wrote - it may be sappy, or just bad, or just something tossed off by a young man in windy Ithaca. I include it for anyone reading to mock or mend, if they feel the urge:


She asked me why I was crying.
I said, "It's just the wind
Blowing across my face
Fierce as if I had sinned."

I asked her why she was smiling.
She said, "The wind on my face
Touched the corners of my lips
Like the wingtips of grace."


Blogger Jackmormon said...

My instinct would be to suggest meddling with line four's scansion. Line eight's scansion seems to work well, so that works against tinkering with four. It is good as it is, but what do you say about rendering four "as if I'd sinned" and eight "wings of grace"? Or is that too ballady?

18/5/06 18:05  
Blogger rilkefan said...

The thing I do like about the poem is the internal rhyme of "lips" and "wingtips", which gives a little oomph to the last line.

I think the poem needs me to care about grace or to at least know enough about it to make the lines that aren't doing their share (1/2 and 5/6?) richer.

Of course one of the sad things about poetry is that you just can't improve bad material into something good - I suspect that's possible in e.g. music.

20/5/06 13:50  
Blogger Jackmormon said...

You're right that giving up the "tips" in "wingtips" would be a loss.

Improving on bad--or just not really that's an interesting question. I've become I think justifiably skeptical about "crooked roads without improvement [being] roads of genius," but my students are right to complain that rethinking the central ideas, logic, and structure of a piece isn't exactly revision.

Anyway, I should have mentioned before that it's very cool that one of your poems should be used in a church service. Congratulations!

21/5/06 18:37  

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