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Requiem - a Sestina
Ananke

still in progress.

Sometimes when I run the earth feels hollow
 1
and my fists tiny and railroad driven.
 2
I could never see you with your roots
 3
burling through a ground that seemed so cold
 4
and made of ice and stone. No paths could
 5
ever be forged here. Turn back.
 6
 
 
Days like this my father worked his back
 7
to bone and we inside the hollow
 8
rooms of ice and stone, thought that we could
 9
change our world if only we were driven
 10
to hide our secrets and our hopes inside the cold,
 11
in the cellar where the walls were made of roots.
 12
 
 
He's a businessman, he has his roots
 13
in deals, give a dollar, get a hundred back,
 14
and be sure you're not the one left in the cold,
 15
cold rooms of ice and stone and hollow.
 16
He's a businessman and he was driven
 17
to build for us a world if he could.
 18
 
 
He built for us the world that he could.
 19
He laid us strong foundations gave us roots,
 20
and said that we could fly if we were driven.
 21
and to never waste our days working backs
 22
to bones while leaving spirits hollow.
 23
He said this, and then left us in the cold.
 24
 
 
Sometimes when I'm still the earth feels cold
 25
and my fists so tiny, they never could
 26
repair the things he built, and they grow hollow,
 27
leaving ruins in the cellar made of roots.
 28
These times I never pray to have him back
 29
but I wish I could have been as driven.
 30
 
 
I'll never drive the course that he has driven
 31
you are the one that's left out in the cold
 32
cold days like this. You're working back
 33
to bone and reminded that you could
 34
never want to see me with my roots
 35
burling through a ground that seems so hollow.
 36
 
 
 
 
He was so driven. I could
 37
never know his cold cold roots
 38
went that far back into the hollow.
 39

24 Sep 07


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Comments:

Not my cup of tea (I'm a simple guy) but stuff like this must be purgatory to concoct and it seems one heck of a shame that, what is probably, a very good sestina disappears down rafter's plughole. I can't believe that one or more of our more esteemed critics is indifferent to your efforts.
 — unknown

because the more esteemed critics find it hard to critique the works of one of the most esteemed poets on this site.
i will come back to this when my mind is a little less foggy, though me critiquing your writing is like kermit the frog telling pavarotti how to sing.
 — unknown

To be honest, it's not my cup of tea either. It was written for an assignment for a writing group. That's why I think it's probably not as good as it could be, it was literally forced into the form.
 — Ananke

nothing?
 — Ananke

Sestinas are fun.  I remember my first and how bad it was.  I think you've got a pretty good start here.  It seems like you're forcing each line into 10 syllables.  Typically a sestina (in english) is in iambic pentameter, at 10 syllables you're finishing the meter, but maybe you should vary it some.  I don't remember that sestinas require a certain number of syllables per line.

I think the big thing with sestinas are whether your end words really match up with your theme.  You seem to be able to keep your theme, but it is way on the forced side.  I think playing with your line length could help with that, also your first stanza doesn't really match the theme of the poem as a whole.

Also part of the problem is you seem to be forcing meaning onto some of the words that just isn't there in the context of the piece.  I really don't know what you mean by hollow in the last line.  I think I know what you mean, but it's just not there.

You cheat in line 28 with roots.  

And don't take this wrong, but I don't feel that there is any authenticy in the poem.  There is a lot of talking around memory and emotion, but no real truth to it.

Hope this helps...
 — openVerse

Thank you for your comments!!

What do you mean by "roots" cheats in l28?

I agree with everything you said, there is no emotion in this, I was just happy to get some semblance of the form. The line lengths aren't all 10 syllables, some are 8, 9, 11, 12. But do you mean something more along the lines of The Shrinking Lonesome by Bruce Miller?

It's forced, and it's sad, I used to write in form all the time, but then I switched to free verse and never kept my chops up for forms. I've been trying to get a little bit back into it lately but it's hard.

To be fair, the meter to this does sound better when it's read aloud!
 — Ananke

Sorry, I meant 'backs' in line 22.  At least in my recollection of the form, I don't remember pluralizing a word to be kosher.

Actually I had not read The Shrinking Lonesome before.  I like how he plays with the form, though I don't know if you need to be as dramatic in this piece.

Wouldn't it be great if we could attach sound files of the authors reading their work? ;)
 — openVerse

Sestinas are impossible!  
But this one is really good.
I think the key is finding end words that can be used in tons of different ways.  You've chosen some really interesting ones, so the repetition is not mundane but interesting.
Well done.
 — unknown

found it cumbersome..tiring..got bored sometime after the second stanza.
I did find the repetition mundane.
I like the word 'Requiem' though. So points for that.
 — DeformedLion

i actually like this. a little prosaic at times, but it still has a nice beat and the words stand strong.

awwww, this was an assignment? that's no fun.

but oh well. i must admit i like this. good work.
 — listen

found this while I was looking for sestinas. you've done well here. As you read it you can barely tell that it's written to such a strict form.
 — unknown

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