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C East 1975
Patients sit dumbfounded in the corners and others soaked in urine on the floor as untamed sounds echo from the voices of the many lives left there to be ignored encased in solid brick and mortar walls the doors are bolted down, unit secured Upheaval runs… hysteria secured holding straps are placed upon the corners of restraining chairs lined up against the walls a body flinging wildly off the floor the screech of desperation is ignored medication quiets all the voices But words do not come from all these voices unable to communicate, secured all tragic stories kept within these walls of the souls that cower in the corners the others that lay sprawled upon the floor most of them forgotten and ignored They live their lives surrounded by these walls counting on the staff to be their voices for none are capable to take the floor without support, they would not be secure no care, nor love would find its way to corners nor helping hand to comfort these ignored At birth, they were not meant to be ignored these babies , there within the nursery walls till the doctors, huddled into corners A sober tone heard within their voices a diagnosis then to be secured as hopes and dreams for future hit the floor Mourning parents… crying on the floor such pain and sorrow could not be ignored these baby’s tragic futures were secured within the limitations of these walls institutionalize … advised the voices parents heartache filled up all the corners In corners, these grown children stay ignored lay fetal on the floors behind cold walls now with voices hushed… all must seem secured Listen close… you may hear a lullaby.
This poem is based on experiences I have had working with the profoundly retarded in a childrens hospital years ago. It is a Sestina and old French poetry form, very restrictive but I think it suits this topic. I took a bit of poetic licence here and added a single line at the end of the form to finish off my thoughts. I also wrote it in constant 10 beat lines to make it flow which is not necessary to writing one. The sestina is a poem consisting of six six-line stanzas and a three-line envoy, where the words ending the lines of the first stanza are repeated in a different order at the end of lines in each of the subsequent five stanzas and, two to a line, in the middle and at the end of the three lines in the closing envoy. The patterns of word-repetitions are as follows 1 2 3 4 5 6 6 1 5 2 4 3 3 6 4 1 2 5 5 3 2 6 1 4 4 5 1 3 6 2 2 4 6 5 3 1 (6 2) (1 4) (5 3) An alternative version of the envoi holds that the pattern should be as follows: Line 1 - 1, 4 Line 2 - 2, 5 Line 3 - 3, 6 With this, words 1, 2, and 3 can occur anywhere in lines 1, 2, and 3 respectively, but words 4, 5, and 6 must occur at the end of the lines. There is no set meter or rhyme scheme although traditionally most were written in iambic pentameter.
This Poem was Critiqued By: James C. Horak On Date: 2009-12-03 07:34:53
Critiquer Rating During Critique: 9.75000
Many years ago, in a lit course on Dryden, my prof was a self-appointed ass, Arthur T. Sherbo, whose sole professional distinction was being an authority on Christopher Smart (big deal.) Sherbo taught a course on methodology all doctoral candidates had to take. At this bottleneck to their obtaining a meal ticket lay an axe in his propensity to give grad students Ds when no other prof would EVER give any grad student less than a C. His lectures would often wander far off even outside his field of expertise and that's where I would "stick it in his lovely behind." Once he made an unfavorable comparison between John Gay's Beggar's Opera and Bertholdt Brecht's, Three Penny Opera. I made the crack, "well, at least Gay never wrote anything comparable with Brecht's, Three Penny Novel. Sherbo took the bait and declared that it was the Three Penny Opera Brecht wrote, not a Three Penny Novel. To which I replied, "He first wrote the novel and adapted the opera from it". Sherbo protested and I offered to bring the novel to the next lecture. Which I did and he wanted to borrow it. I came early for the next lecture and put a poem I had written in staunch iambic pentameter on his chalk board. Two of the lines: "In this land there is a muse/whose only use is to deliberate his views." Sherbo came in late, as he was want to do, read it, commented, "not bad", and erased it. Nonplussed. Winning a little mite of respect, I hate to say. Nancy, many things have become far more important to poetry than form, most of all powerful image building. I say this because a poem of intensity such as yours here, is reduced in power by the obvious weakness of strict form, contrivance. And what a powerful poem this could be! with just a little less of it. Now if you want a formal critique of this I will give it to you, but I had much rather see you rewrite it with less emphasis on form at the expense of imagery. JCH
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