Thursday, May 05, 2005

Winter Moon

When the moon rose full from the hills,
It raised trees of the night:
Black trees,
Shadow trees,
Trees of burnt bone.
I thought of holocausts
And hands raised in supplication
Before the altar of an unknown god.
I thought of dead ones risen from the dust,
Multitudes waiting for sinews, and skin.
I saw each hold his lonely place.
I saw it was the world's untimely end.

H.J. Hodges


At 4:43 AM, Blogger Dymphna said...

This is a very good poem. Almost perfect. If you would make it perfectly spare -- which is what it is aiming for -- you might try eliminating line # 8 and substitute "for skin" in place of "and skin" in line # 10.

Also, if you used "solitary" instead of "lonely" it would have a better rhythm and alliteration. On the other hand, you may actually mean 'lonely' and not just 'alone' so then it wouldn't work.

Wish I had written this, just like I wish I'd written the lyrics to "In the Still of the Night."

At 8:22 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Dymphna, thanks for the appreciation. I thought about your suggestions and tried them out, but to my ear and sense they don't do what I want.

You're correct that I wanted "lonely" for the meaning, but I also wanted it for the long "o" sound, which echoes the "o" in "hold."

I want line # 8 for the biblical allusion, especially in our post-Christian world (to the extent that it is post-Christian).

I wouldn't want "for skin" because the repetition of "for" sounds awkward to my ear.

But I acknowledge a degree of subjectivity in all this, so who knows who's right?

In case you're interested, here are a few other poetry posts:

At 1:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I wouldn't want "for skin" because the repetition of "for" sounds awkward to my ear."
--Horace Jeffery Hodges

Maybe I'm over-reading your comment above. But I would like to make an observation tangential to the topic in the above exchange.

1: "I fight for honor and glory."
2: "I fight for honor, for glory."

3: "Multitudes waiting for sinews, and skin."
4: "Multitudes waiting for sinews, for skin."

"And" is inherently "liquidy" and "soft" to the ear--or at least to my ear. The way "and" treats the conjuncts in 1 and 3 is to meld them into one aural entity. It is not "honor" + "glory," it's "honoranglory." It's "sinewsanskin."

"For" seems to punctuate each conjunct and raises their aural profile. I fight "for honor!" and I also happen to fight "for glory!" Multitudes wait "for sinews!" as well as "for skin!" Moreover, the rhythm, or sound, of "for" seems to make the line new and refreshing.

The logical meanings remain the same, but the sense is different.

I am not saying that you should change your poem. This poem is your past. Rather, I think you should consider the possibility that the awkwardness you feel with the word, "for," may be due to mere unfamiliarity. And if so, then I do not think you should let this feeling cause you to ignore its cause. Rather, you should embrace the strangeness. Maybe in a future poem, you could try something like this out?

As for myself, I always love discovering new rhetorical details, which teach me new rhythms and sounds of speech.



At 2:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please do delete the above comment. It is presumptuous and does not say why I wrote it. As strange as it may sound, I think I rather wrote it in defense of "for" and not for you. And by this, I don't mean to say that I think you should change your poem. I do not mean this at all. I mean nothing more than that I felt a bit compelled to defend the use of "for" here. How foolish is that?

It is strange, but I really love certain senses that sounds can make. And I guess that's one reason I am a dork.

I am almost finished with your collection. Much better than the poems you have shared on the net...are your prose and the stories you tell.

I've enjoyed my 2 day stay here.


At 7:20 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Lollabrats, for your kind words . . . and for your defense of "for."

No need to take that post down, unless you really want me to. It's fine with me, and I don't find it presumptuous.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *


Post a Comment

<< Home