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Thread: Chess Sans Voir

  1. #1
    Freed by your indulgence deryk's Avatar
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    Chess Sans Voir

    For the scholar and ultimate master of sightless chess, Sa’id bin Jubayr,
    Kufa; 665-714 A.D.


    Chess Sans Voir

    Sa’id envisions lines in the sand.
    The pieces are not yet framed in glass.
    Squatting young in his pastiche of robes,
    He must improvise.
    He closes his eyes.

    Anything he may touch with
    His mind becomes magic.

    His closed lids unveil his opponent,
    A Gotama, ascetic and sockless,
    This Buddha disdains all play.

    Sa’id opens the game with a squelch of hot wind,
    Sweeping a future queen from the Tigris to the Ganges.

    The Gotama sighs eternally…
    And a flight of Blue Whales dream themselves
    Into the whalesong night skies of the game.

    They soar observantly, mooing
    Their slumbering secrets and wishes.
    Sa’id drinks the seaspray of wisdom.

    But the Gotama refuses all movement.
    His pawns stand inert and unflinching.

    Sa’id overlooks his opponent’s mute cheat,
    And al-Hajjaj, his knight-turned-nemesis,
    Checks him by cheek to his Shamshir’s edge.

    Genuflect, Sa'id erupts laughter,

    “I will replace your Dunya with a
    Blazing Fire!”

    A nomadic spider tumbles down the tenement dunes,
    Brushing Sa’id’s naked feet with a disenchanting fuzz.
    Sa’id hops up as the desert cats hungrily meow,
    And the drops of milky starlight are no longer imagined.
    Last edited by deryk; 05-19-2011 at 02:26 PM. Reason: edited with HM's suggestions
    "My Soul, do not seek eternal life, but to exhaust the realm of possibility." -Pindar

  2. #2
    Registered User Delta40's Avatar
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    I have no idea who this is but you totally swept me away in the imagery as if mother nature was a chessboard. Loved milky starlight, whalesong, slumbering secrets and wishes. sigh....
    Before sunlight can shine through a window, the blinds must be raised - American Proverb

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    Freed by your indulgence deryk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Delta40 View Post
    I have no idea who this is but you totally swept me away in the imagery as if mother nature was a chessboard. Loved milky starlight, whalesong, slumbering secrets and wishes. sigh....
    Thank you Delta, that's approximately what I was going for.
    "My Soul, do not seek eternal life, but to exhaust the realm of possibility." -Pindar

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    I confess some of the references escape me, but generally the imagery is deftly handled to communicate some sublime ideas. I like the chess metaphor, but then I like a game of chess

    This poems only weaknesses are the occasional hiccups in grammar, syntax and punctuation.

    "This Buddha disdains of all play."

    You don't need the of here. You can say: disdainful of all play, or disdains all play.

    "They soar observantly mooing,
    Their slumbering secrets and wishes."

    The comma should be after soar not at the end of the line.

    "Sa’id overlooks his opponent’s own cheat,
    And al-Hajjaj, his knight-turned-nemesis
    Checks him by cheek to his Shamshir’s edge."

    I don't think you need own and in order to delimit the subordinate clause there should be another comma after nemesis.


    "Sa’id hops to as the desert cats hungrily meow."

    "Hops to" is the problem here. "hop to it" a slang colloquaillism for get a move on, doesn't really fit the atmosphere you've created or the tone of the poem generally. Jumps up would be better and I would be inclined to remove the full stop so that the line flows into the last by inserting an and before the in the last line.

    Apart from these tiny flaws I think this is a wonderfully atmospheric piece. Thanks for sharing.

    Live and be well - H

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    A very ambitious piece and I believe you have pulled it off. My favourite of yours.

    H

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    Freed by your indulgence deryk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hawkman View Post
    I confess some of the references escape me, but generally the imagery is deftly handled to communicate some sublime ideas. I like the chess metaphor, but then I like a game of chess

    This poems only weaknesses are the occasional hiccups in grammar, syntax and punctuation.

    "This Buddha disdains of all play."

    You don't need the of here. You can say: disdainful of all play, or disdains all play.

    "They soar observantly mooing,
    Their slumbering secrets and wishes."

    The comma should be after soar not at the end of the line.

    "Sa’id overlooks his opponent’s own cheat,
    And al-Hajjaj, his knight-turned-nemesis
    Checks him by cheek to his Shamshir’s edge."

    I don't think you need own and in order to delimit the subordinate clause there should be another comma after nemesis.


    "Sa’id hops to as the desert cats hungrily meow."

    "Hops to" is the problem here. "hop to it" a slang colloquaillism for get a move on, doesn't really fit the atmosphere you've created or the tone of the poem generally. Jumps up would be better and I would be inclined to remove the full stop so that the line flows into the last by inserting an and before the in the last line.

    Apart from these tiny flaws I think this is a wonderfully atmospheric piece. Thanks for sharing.

    Live and be well - H
    Thank you so much for pointing out all of those foibles to me, Mr. Hawk. And although I must admit I'd trade wonderful atmosphere for striking style any day of the week, we all use what we have to give. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
    Last edited by deryk; 05-19-2011 at 12:55 PM.
    "My Soul, do not seek eternal life, but to exhaust the realm of possibility." -Pindar

  7. #7
    Freed by your indulgence deryk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hillwalker View Post
    A very ambitious piece and I believe you have pulled it off. My favourite of yours.

    H
    Thank you HW, that means a lot to me.
    "My Soul, do not seek eternal life, but to exhaust the realm of possibility." -Pindar

  8. #8
    Inexplicably Undiscovered
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    Hi deryk,
    I agree with Delta 100% on the fine lyricism and with Hawkman on the grammar (except I have more to say about that in a bit.)

    I have to preface the following remarks with these disclaimers:
    --I know almost nothing about the game of chess.
    --I know even less about zen Buddhism.
    --Also, once again I insist that you take what I say with the proverbial grain of salt. The more I learn about poetry, the more I know that there still remains much to learn! The corollary of that is that the more I think I know about it, the less I really I do.

    I'll forge ahead, nonetheless, with whatever analysis I can muster, FWIW.

    In writing free verse --which as Frost said, "like playing tennis without a net"--the biggest challenge is making it seem more like poetry and less like prose.

    One of the ways we can do this is with judicious use of line breaks, but even then, sometimes the result appears to be mere lines of prose randomly broken up. I hasten to say that in this piece you made a valiant attempt to establish a semblance of form through your line breaks.

    Another way to keep the poem seeming like prose is to be vary of making direct declarative statements (prose sentences) with this construction, subject/verb/object
    S + V + O

    Here are just a few examples in which your lines display the S+V+O:

    He must improvise.
    He closes his eyes.


    Anything he may touch with
    His mind becomes magic.
    His closed lids unveil his opponent

    But the Gotama refuses all movement.
    His pawns stand inert and unflinching.


    Even though other lines introduce participles and appositives, this reader (anyway) thinks she is reading an essay --a lyrically expressed piece of writing-- but nonetheless more similar to prose than poetry.

    Don't get me wrong: we want our verse to jump and snap with verbs; they animate the piece with drama and dynamism. At the same time we want to avoid the danger of dullness, which comes with a steady drone of S+ V+ +O.

    I mean really "active" "action verbs." Too many instances of the verb "to be"-- "is," "was," "have been," etc. don't really contribute. The best they can do is prop up modifiers. The passive voice -- as in " are not yet framed" and "are no longer imagined"--sound remote and aloof. Not only that, passive constructions slow down the pace.


    One of the characteristics of modern verse is that it is seldom if ever direct. As Emily Dickinson famously wrote: "Tell the truth, but tell it slant." That's what writing metaphorically means: suggesting or intimating, through subtlety and nuance. That's why we should use statements expressed as (S+V+O) sparingly.

    Back in the Jurassic Era when I was in the 8th grade, the teacher said that the rules of capitalization included not only "Begin each sentence with a capital letter," but also "Begin each line of verse with a capital letter." The first rule still holds, but the second has been passé at least for a century. We seldom if ever see every line of modern verse capitalized. (Even if you used the old-fashioned rule, the resulting lines still might announce themselves as prose sentences.)

    Please allow me the liberty to slightly revise and move your lines around in order to show you how (I think!) contemporary versifiers might type your concluding strophe:

    Down the tenement dunes
    a nomadic spider tumbles,
    with a disenchanting fuzz
    brushing Sa’id’s naked feet.
    Upon the startled hop,
    desert cats meow in hunger,
    as milky starlight falls
    down wet and real.

    I hope I haven't bruised the sensibility of your poem--or yours!--but I think you see what I mean.

    Overall, your piece shows an original way to look at and wonder about the world.

    Keep writin' and postin'!
    Last edited by AuntShecky; 05-19-2011 at 02:06 PM.

  9. #9
    Freed by your indulgence deryk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AuntShecky View Post
    Hi deryk,
    I agree with Delta 100% on the fine lyricism and with Hawkman on the grammar (except I have more to say about that in a bit.)

    I have to preface the following remarks with these disclaimers:
    --I know almost nothing about the game of chess.
    --I know even less about zen Buddhism.
    --Also, once again I insist that you take what I say with the proverbial grain of salt. The more I learn about poetry, the more I know that there still remains much to learn! The corollary of that is that the more I think I know about it, the less I really I do.

    I'll forge ahead, nonetheless, with whatever analysis I can muster, FWIW.

    In writing free verse --which as Frost said, "like playing tennis without a net"--the biggest challenge is making it seem more like poetry and less like prose.

    One of the ways we can do this is with judicious use of line breaks, but even then, sometimes the result appears to be mere lines of prose randomly broken up. I hasten to say that in this piece you made a valiant attempt to establish a semblance of form through your line breaks.

    Another way to keep the poem seeming like prose is to be vary of making direct declarative statements (prose sentences) with this construction, subject/verb/object
    S + V + O

    Here are just a few examples in which your lines display the S+V+O:

    He must improvise.
    He closes his eyes.


    Anything he may touch with
    His mind becomes magic.
    His closed lids unveil his opponent

    But the Gotama refuses all movement.
    His pawns stand inert and unflinching.


    Even though other lines introduce participles and appositives, this reader (anyway) thinks she is reading an essay --a lyrically expressed piece of writing-- but nonetheless more similar to prose than poetry.

    Don't get me wrong: we want our verse to jump and snap with verbs; they animate the piece with drama and dynamism. At the same time we want to avoid the danger of dullness, which comes with a steady drone of S+ V+ +O.

    I mean really "active" "action verbs." Too many instances of the verb "to be"-- "is," "was," "have been," etc. don't really contribute. The best they can do is prop up modifiers. The passive voice -- as in " are not yet framed" and "are no longer imagined"--sound remote and aloof. Not only that, passive constructions slow down the pace.


    One of the characteristics of modern verse is that it is seldom if ever direct. As Emily Dickinson famously wrote: "Tell the truth, but tell it slant." That's what writing metaphorically means: suggesting or intimating, through subtlety and nuance. That's why we should use statements expressed as (S+V+O) sparingly.

    Back in the Jurassic Era when I was in the 8th grade, the teacher said that the rules of capitalization included not only "Begin each sentence with a capital letter," but also "Begin each line of verse with a capital letter." The first rule still holds, but the second has been passé at least for a century. We seldom if ever see every line of modern verse capitalized. (Even if you used the old-fashioned rule, the resulting lines still might announce themselves as prose sentences.)

    Please allow me the liberty to slightly revise and move your lines around in order to show you how (I think!) contemporary versifiers might type your concluding strophe:

    Down the tenement dunes
    a nomadic spider tumbles,
    with a disenchanting fuzz
    brushing Sa’id’s naked feet.
    Upon the startled hop,
    desert cats meow in hunger,
    as milky starlight falls
    down wet and real.

    I hope I haven't bruised the sensibility of your poem--or yours!--but I think you see what I mean.

    Overall, your piece shows an original way to look at and wonder about the world.

    Keep writin' and postin'!
    I see what you mean!

    The passive construction is especially something I couldn't quite identify, but could feel at the end of my tongue.

    The artifice of verse does come off as either outmoded or phony in the respects you've pointed out, although, I might argue that it is post-verse rather than free-verse, if that has any bearing (it may not). I'd much rather correct for the phoniness than modernize it with this particular poem.

    I've been chastised for my exploitation of S,V,O in the past. I'll try to be more mindful of it this time.

    Thanks for the constructive feedback AuntShecky!
    "My Soul, do not seek eternal life, but to exhaust the realm of possibility." -Pindar

  10. #10
    All are at the crossroads qimissung's Avatar
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    I, too, am swept away by the night skies and the whale's song. Bravo, deryk!
    "The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its' own reason for existing." ~ Albert Einstein
    "Remember, no matter where you go, there you are." Buckaroo Bonzai
    "Some people say I done alright for a girl." Melanie Safka

  11. #11
    Registered User tailor STATELY's Avatar
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    Delightful. Imaginative.

    A game worthy of Morphy.

    Ta ! (short for tarradiddle),
    tailor STATELY
    Enchant Me

    Your very being a desire for answer
    Lament not your unassailable mystery
    Enchant me with your dreams

    5-14-2005
    A Poet in Garden Valley

  12. #12
    Freed by your indulgence deryk's Avatar
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    Many thanks, Qimissung and Tailor!
    "My Soul, do not seek eternal life, but to exhaust the realm of possibility." -Pindar

  13. #13
    The Wolf of Larsen WolfLarsen's Avatar
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    I liked most the part about: "anything he may touch with his mind becomes magic"
    "...the ramblings of a narcissistic, self-obsessed, deranged mind."
    My poetry & other stuff on Amazon:
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