Friday, September 22, 2006

Poetry Thursday: Poem vs. Prose-Poem

Yesterday I posted this as a proem, or prose-poem, something I generally avoid. With the help of those who commented, today I recast it as a poem with the former version below it. If you have the time, can you tell me which version you think is better?


Sensing Trees

A redwood’s autumn is not as dramatic
as that of a deciduous tree
if you prefer color to sound--
which brings to mind
the old question of whether
it’s better to be deaf or blind.
Blind is the answer a wise man gave me.
Does that mean communication
is more vital than safety?

The redwoods ply the edge
of an expanding continent
like icebreakers. When wind strikes,
their spent fronds fall
like missiles pelleting the roof,
each frond a lost church
with needles for pews.

Dead fronds lace my deck
like fish skeletons gone pale rust--
rigid millipedes with neeedles for legs.
Though acidic and hard to mulch
the needles are members in good standing
because they never desert the frond.
Remember the blind vs. deaf question?
Would you rather hear or see the redwoods?
Easy one. What about as an infant with your mother?

*******************************

Sensing Trees

A redwood’s autumn is not as dramatic as that of a deciduous tree, if you prefer color to sound--which brings to mind the old question of whether it’s better to be deaf or blind. Blind is the answer a wise man gave me. Does that mean communication is more vital than safety?

The redwoods ply the edge of an expanding continent like icebreakers. When wind strikes, their spent fronds fall like missiles pelleting the roof, each frond a lost church with needles for pews.

Dead fronds lace my deck like fish skeletons gone pale rust, rigid millipedes with needles for legs. Though acidic and hard to mulch, the needles are members in good standing because they never desert the frond. Remember the blind vs. deaf question? Would you rather hear or see the redwoods? Easy one. What about as an infant with your mother?

9 comments:

  1. Anonymous3:35 PM PDT

    Gut feeling - I prefer the prose version. But I'm not sure why. Maybe it's that the piece seems to be written in sentences as opposed to lines - if that makes any sense.

    For example, "Does that mean communication is more vital than safety?" seems like a unity, and breaking it into "Does that mean communication/ is more vital than safety?" doesn't have much point, as far as I can see. The same in several other lines.

    But either way, prose or poem, it's an interesting read.

    Rob

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree that the line breaks feel a little awkward in the non-prose version; yet, perhaps from habit, I still gravitate toward it. In any case I think you have something here. I tried to fiddle with it a bit. Here’s what I came up with:


    Sensing Trees

    A redwood’s autumn
    lacks the drama of a deciduous tree
    if you prefer color to sound.
    Remember the old question-
    Is it better to be deaf or blind?
    A wise man told me blind.
    Does that mean communication
    Is more vital than safety?

    The redwoods ply the edge
    of an expanding continent.
    When the wind strikes,
    their spent fronds fall
    like missiles pelting the roof,
    each frond a lost church
    with needles for pews.

    They lie like fish skeletons,
    pale rust on the back deck—
    rigid millipedes with needle legs.
    The needles maintain good standing,
    never deserting their frond.
    Which would you choose,
    to see or hear the redwoods?
    What about as in infant with your mother?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Jarod, you have learned well from some master. Your version of my poem is better than mine.

    I salute you.

    Rob, thanks for the input. I blogged at your site today now that I discovered a way around beta: pick "anonymous."

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you master Yoda. I will endeavor to use my power for good.
    :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous6:38 AM PDT

    Prose version, sir.

    Hey, I see you posting comments anonymously on other blogs now. Does that mean the glitch is fixed....?

    I guess I'll try posting this comment anonymously right now and see if it flies. Up til now, I haven't been able to say a single damned thing on your blog, CE. I've typed out 2 rather long comments in the past 2 weeks and both disappeared into the great blue yonder when I hit "post comment" much to my dismay and disappointment.

    GRRRRRRRR.(smile)

    lkd

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous6:41 AM PDT

    Oh, wow....HEY!!!!

    It worked!

    I'll be damned.

    So I just have to remember to post without using my blogger sign-on when I try to say hola on your blog.

    HOO-RAH!!!!

    lkd

    Oh, and prose.

    Interesting that you tried it both ways. I've lately been thinking that it's time for me to break free of the constraints of stanzas if only because I couplet and stanza stuff or post it in a blob that still resembles a conventional poem if only because I never think to experiment with prose-ish line lengths/formats.

    Hmmmmm.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Nooooo - I hate prose poems! They make my eyes twitch! I'd rather an awkward line break any day!!

    OK, having said that, I can see where the language of this piece is hard to break into stanzas. My little cheat is to create very long lines, perhaps even each sentence on its own line, with an extra space in-between. Then I can still tell myself I've written a poem (even if I sort of haven't). Because I refuse to write prosems, or whatever we're calling them now.

    ReplyDelete
  8. my backyard8:25 AM PDT

    I prefer the poem. I like how you turned some nouns -- like lace -- into verbs.

    I think I'd rather be deaf than blind.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Obviously no consensus has been reached her, though it's equally obvious that Twitches has entirely fled reality. A more horrifying thought: What if I submitted a prose-poem? Worse, what if it were published? Would my modest reputation as a classicist be blighted forever? Ah the pressure, the pressure!

    ReplyDelete

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