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Thread: Writing the Next Great American Novel

  1. #1
    in angulo cum libro Petrarch's Love's Avatar
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    Writing the Next Great American Novel

    Hey, I've never posted poetry online before, but I thought I'd stick somthing up to share. It's partly a sketch of a character I met at a party and partly a warning to myself against letting my writerly ambition get overblown to the point where I become bitter and frustrated . Thought fellow writers might find it amusing.


    While Writing the Next Great American Novel

    His manuscript lay sitting in a drawer,
    Unfinished, unpublished, undoing him,
    And in the evenings as he paced the floor
    The words unwritten were rewriting him.
    He had made such worlds, such golden futures
    But shown nothing to make his vaunts substantial.
    The silvery hopes which made him too sure
    Had all been tarnished by concerns financial.
    He was no more himself. He spent his days
    Resenting neighbors, grumbling to his room,
    And grudging everyone the hope of praise
    Which now for him lay in a drawer entombed.
    He sacrificed and ruined himself to please
    Sweet fame who "dotes the more upon the heart at ease."

  2. #2
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Very nice Petrarch. Here's my favorite part:

    Unfinished, unpublished, undoing him,
    And in the evenings as he paced the floor
    The words unwritten were rewriting him.
    "Undoing him" - excellent, and it echoes with "rewriting him." "un, un, un, un" and then "re". Very nice.

    A Shakespearen sonnet? I would have expected an Italian sonnet from Petrarch.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    "Love follows knowledge." St. Catherine of Siena

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

  3. #3
    I can really identify with having a friend going thru just that. And in agreement with Virgil those are my favorite lines as well. It reminds me of how you start a story and you have a fair sketch of the characters and before you know it they have taken over and write themselves far better than you could.
    well done. keep on.

  4. #4
    in angulo cum libro Petrarch's Love's Avatar
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    Virgil and Rachel,

    Thank you both for your comments. I think the lines Virg. pointed to were the ones I liked best too. I like Rachel's point about characters "taking over" a piece. I hadn't consciously been thinking of the line that way, but it's completely true . Great to have insights into one of my scribblings. BTW Virgil I'm afraid our English, a lovely language in most respects, is terribly suited to Petrarchan sonnets due to the paucity of vowels at the conclusion of words which allow such fluid and elegant rhyme schemes in Italian. Maybe I'll attempt one again though, in honor of my screen name.

  5. #5
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    I re read this one more time, and if you want one more comment there is only one line which feels awkward, perhaps forced:
    But shown nothing to make his vaunts substantial
    I know you're in need of syllables and rhyme, but "vaunts" and "substantial" just doesn't go in my ear.

    I know what you mean about Italian sonnets and english. Even the really great poets aren't convincing when they attempt it.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    "Love follows knowledge." St. Catherine of Siena

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

  6. #6
    in angulo cum libro Petrarch's Love's Avatar
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    I re read this one more time, and if you want one more comment there is only one line which feels awkward, perhaps forced:
    Quote:
    But shown nothing to make his vaunts substantial
    Ah! You've caught me at one of my less successful T.S. Elliot moments, stealing lines from other poets. I'd been doing some work on Marlowe around the time a wrote this and a few lines from Tamburlaine I had really struck me for some reason: " Nor are Apollo's oracles more true/Than thou shalt find my vaunts substantial." So for me personally the "vaunts substantial" tied the efforts of the writer trying to conquer the literary world in with the (more successful) efforts of Tamburlaine to conquer the actual world. Obviously I didn't expect anyone to pick up on this, but I thought you might be interested by the back story. I stuck in one other literary allusion in the final line, which quotes Keats' "On Fame I."

    I completely agree that stylistically the line is poor. It's biggest flaw may be that it's too long metrically (11 syllables--12 if you read "shown" as 2 syllables, which many do) and akward in its stresses. Marlowe's antiquated diction may also be throwing it off. Thanks for taking the time to give some crit.
    Last edited by Petrarch's Love; 02-07-2006 at 01:22 PM.

    "In rime sparse il suono/ di quei sospiri ond' io nudriva 'l core/ in sul mio primo giovenile errore"~ Francesco Petrarca
    "Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can."~ Jane Austen

  7. #7
    Suzerain of Cost&Caution SleepyWitch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Petrarch's Love
    And in the evenings as he paced the floor
    The words unwritten were rewriting him.
    i like these lines best, too
    err. i think the vaunts substantial aren't that bad, but concerns financial sounds a bit odd.. i think it's because with an old- fashioned word like vaunts it sounds it's OK to have the adjective after the nound but with concerns financial it's weird... but of course you've gotta keep it that way if you want it to rhyme with substantial..

    [off topic]I've got a poem about a similar topic posted somewhere in here.. the thread is called something stupid like "new poem - no title yet".. it's a bit less gloomy and more personal but not as well-written as Petrarch's [/ off topic]

  8. #8
    in angulo cum libro Petrarch's Love's Avatar
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    Hi SleepyWitch--Thanks for the crit. Obviously I'll have to think out a way to make those substantial/financial lines more pleasing to the ear . Well, I think half the fun of writing poetry is in the refining of it. I looked up the poem you referred to and made some comments on it on the thread you posted it to originally. Cheers.

    "In rime sparse il suono/ di quei sospiri ond' io nudriva 'l core/ in sul mio primo giovenile errore"~ Francesco Petrarca
    "Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can."~ Jane Austen

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