Friday, January 29, 2016

Imitating a Good Poem: January 2016

The poem proposed for imitation:

willow on shore –
other leaves continue to
darken the sky

(Ana Urma)

The situational omission of the proposed poem comes from the fact that it does not mention literally the mirroring, not even the mirror of the lake. The situation of the reflection in the mirror is not exposed by the presented facts: other leaves continue to darken the sky, and not by the evoked object either: willow on shore. There are only vague allusions to water, the willow and the shore, and to the hiding of the sky, by leaves and by the darkness. The deceptive synecdoche means that there are two equally valid situations, the multiplying leaves in the tree’s crown in spring and their falling down in autumn, both being potentially responsible for the darkening of the sky, in the first situation covering the actual sky, in the second only its reflection in the lake. The whole poem points, with subtlety, towards the second situation.

Remarkable poems:

fallen icicle –
the sun splits
into thousands of needles

(Luminiţa Ignea)

Luminiţa Ignea gives up the props proposed by the poem to be emulated. We no longer find the mirroring water or the trees on the lake’s shore. The ellipsis works by transferring the breaking of the icicle on the shattered sun, and through concealing the reflection that is only suggested by the scattering sunlight. Although we no longer have a misleading synecdoche, the addition is clearly allegorical: it speaks of the sun’s thousands of needles to make us understand that it is talking about the icicle’s shards.

weeping willows –
the leaves keep away
the cluster of stars

(Florin Florian)

Florin Florian replaces the specification on shore with weeping willows, thus keeping the allusion to the water and its possible mirroring. The darkening is also replaced with keeping away, an expressive phrase, emphasizing more openly the concealment. The sky becomes the cluster of stars and away acquires the meaning of keeping the the swarm of bees away, in a basket. The ambiguity of the leaves’s location, in the tree or in the water, is preserved with no alterations. The situational ellipsis also remains valid, together with the misleading synecdoche.

(Comments by Corneliu Traian Atanasiu)

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Towards the Ground

immaculate white –
the branches bend
towards the ground

(Corneliu Traian Atanasiu)

Without the repeated experience, year after year, of the immaculate snow which covers and overwhelms everything, without the quiet and grateful contemplation of the silence settled upon a world which no longer seemed to deserve it, without the meditation on the meanings of feelings that weave in what you feel before the spotless landscape, I would have not been tempted to continue, under the impression that I will not get to have my work done on it, and to polish this poem for two whole weeks.

But also without these two poems which I remembered during my search: 

first snow - / everything dirty / under cover (Cornelia Conta)

covered up / all my debts - / I listen to the snow falling (Cristina Oprea)

I would not have been able to capture that experience of detachment full of gratitude for everything.

The first idea was to give weight to the amount of snow coming from the sky. And for this I had in mind the parable of the branches on which the snow was lying down generously, bending them to the ground. Overwhelming them. They were bowing down flexibly, but they could also break. Resorting to a familiar phrase – towards the ground – I hid away, only implying, the possibility of breaking, bringing into focus, at the same time, a superlative of bending. I preferred this allusion to bowing. By saying the branches bend / towards the ground, I was surprising a natural and objective gesture of humility towards the coming snow. Overwhelming was becoming a burden and, on another level, an overwhelming outpouring of emotion felt with all sincerity and gratitude.

The pious gesture of gratitude was solved. The ellipse was also there: the snow that had caused it did not appear on stage. Only its overhwelming effect. I was free to quit naming it literally. I could evoke it, by metonymy, naming only one of its most expressive features, that which impresses and fascinates us most – its whiteness. Which suggests purity. The ellipse was still there and the chosen word was more suitable to allude the coming down on earth of a pure spirit with no sins – immaculate white. 

(Corneliu Traian Atanasiu)