Tigers to Be Tamed ~ Power of Inference

We’re at our third blog for the Poetry Lessons series, which focuses on “Clocks,” written by Chris Martin et al. / performed by ColdPlay. This song presents the power of inference, everything we can understand by bringing our personal knowledge to the bits and pieces that the poets reveal.  If you are not familiar with the song, please visit this link: Go on. I’ll wait.

Verse I ~ Inferring with Images of Trouble

The poem opens with images of trouble, letting us know immediately that the relationship is on the verge of break-up.  No lights can guide him back.  The tide is taking him out, away. and no amount of begging on his knees will stop the break-up.

What started the break-up?  “Things unsaid. . . . A trouble that can’t be named.”  What did he neglect to say?  What trouble can’t be named?  Oh, that kind of trouble, the one that someone never wants to name:  a sin he is responsible for but enjoyed too much to avoid it at the time.  And now it’s there, between them, not mentioned but still festering.

How do I know he’s the one responsible for the sin?  It’s in the allusion of “Shoot an apple off my head”:  He’s the boy in the William Tell story:  the apple of desire / of lies is on his head, placed there by himself, waiting for it to be shot off.  But she hasn’t shot it off.  Instead, she refuses to talk about it.  It’s still there for both of them to see, because neither of them will mention it and get it out of the way.

That’s the tiger, the thing that needs to be tamed, but it won’t be.  They refuse to acknowledge it, even though it has thousands of stripes.  The stripes are all based on the same sin, in variations every time his sin comes between them.  Black.  Obvious.  With claws and fangs that rip them apart.

Chorus ~ Inferring an Argument / an Accusation / What?

Such a simple chorus, repeating the words “You are”.  Is it an accusation?  Is it her accusation of him–unfinished because it can’t be named?  Is it a wish?  We don’t know at this point.

Verse II ~ Inferring the Cause of Cracks in the Relationship

Part one of this stanza shows his reversed thinking:  he’s taking actions too late.  He’s knowing what to do too late.  He’s suffering the consequences not that she’s gone, too late to stop her leaving.

So we begin with the last line of the first part of Stanza II: “I could not stop that you now know” although he obviously wanted to.

But she’s gone now, and he wants to bring her back to the home they were supposed to be creating:  “Gonna come back and take you home”.

When he walks through the place they lived, the place that he wanted to call “home”, he feels oppressed, claustrophic (closing walls) and time passes so slowly (“ticking clocks”).  He has no escape now from what he’s done.  He has to live with it.  Nothing to distract him.  His thoughts, in constant revolution like a clock.  His actions, putting him in the cage of his own making.

Could he have stopped it?  That must be his constant question without an answer:  “Confusion never stops.”

His “seas”, the ones that have the “tides that [he] tried to swim against”, are drowning him.  He can’t escape that what he did broke them up.  Now he curses “missed opportunities”.  Now he realizes what he should have done, every step along the way.  The words he should have said.  The little details of life that he could have helped with.  The tasks he could have taken on.  The devotion he should have given.

The verse concludes with an antithesis:  “Am I a part of the cure?  / Or am I part of the disease?”  Can he get her back?  Can he “cure” their relationship?  Or is there something inherently wrong with him?  Has he a cancerous sin that infects him and prevents him from succeeding at a relationship?

Chorus ~ Inferences becoming Clearer

Again “you are”.  This time, we know what it is:  he misses her.  She was everything, but he realized it to late.  “Nothing else compares” to her and to the life they were trying to build together.

How do I know?  She represented “home” to him:  “home, home where I wanted to go.”  That was his dream for the relationship: together they would make a home. 

Not now.  So he sings his lament with its obsessive repetition.  Too late.  She is gone.  The dream is gone.  And he is alone in that echoing house.

Questions? Trouble with your own poetry? Check out Discovering Sentence Craft, covering ideas both figurative and interpretive as well as structures like inversion, opposition, repetition, and sequencing. Find it here:

Resolutions

For poetry lovers, we have a blog series called Poetry Lessons, guest-hosted by M.A. Lee.  Visit our page on the 5ths (day 5, 15, and 25) to see which poem has inspired a lesson in thinking and writing. We’ll intersperse news about titles from Writers Ink as necessary.

Our first lesson is Don Marquis’ “Lesson of the Moth”.

The New Year:  a time of reflection, of re-charging, of resolving.

Whenever we analyze our lives, we consider our dreams and strive to turn those dreams into goals.

On my wall I have these Resolutions: “Dream.  Believe.  Do.”

What are Your Resolutions?

In “Lesson of the Moth,” the philosophizing bug archy also considers dreams.  As a bug, archy can’t use the shift key to create capital letters, and he ignores punctuation.  Read on to see what archy learned from another bug.

The Lesson of the Moth

i was talking to a moth

the other evening

he was trying to break into

an electric light bulb

and fry himself on the wires

why do you fellows

pull this stunt i asked him

because it is the conventional

thing for moths or why

if that had been an uncovered

candle instead of an electric

light bulb you would

now be a small unsightly cinder

have you no sense

plenty of it he answered

but at times we get tired

of using it

we get bored with the routine

and crave beauty

and excitement

fire is beautiful

and we know that if we get

too close it will kill us

but what does that matter

it is better to be happy

for a moment

and be burned up with beauty

than to live a long time

and be bored all the while

so we wad all our life up

into one little roll

then we shoot the roll

that is what life is for

it is better to be a part of beauty

for one instant and then cease to

exist than to exist forever

and never be a part of beauty

our attitude toward life

is come easy go easy

we are like human beings

used to be before they became

too civilized to enjoy themselves

and before i could argue him

out of his philosophy

he went and immolated himself

on a patent cigar lighter

i do not agree with him

myself i would rather have

half the happiness and twice

the longevity

but at the same time i wish

there was something i wanted

as badly as he wanted to fry himself

                                              archy

Don Marquis’ Resolutions with Free Verse

The structure of this poem helps to emphasize Marquis’ words.  And I’m not talking about his gimmick with archy.  Sometimes writers resort to gimmicks to get their ideas to the public, and Marquis certainly caught the public’s attention with his buggy archy and unusual capitalization and punctuation, much as e.e. cummings did.

What structure am I talking about?

The beauty of free verse is how lines can be manipulated to focus on certain words.

In stanza 2, the anaphora for “and crave beauty / and excitement” helps emphasize the moth’s desire.

Touches of alliteration throughout keep us focused on that desire: “close / kill”, “be / burned / beauty”, “live / long” and “be / bored” and “better / beauty”.

The reversed anastrophe “come easy go easy” reinforces the moth’s backward thinking:  he doesn’t think like humans do now but as humans “used to”.

Contrasting “half the happiness and twice / the longevity” through the math of the line returns us to the logical human way of looking at things.

Yet look at the last stanza, specifically the two lines that end with “i wish / i wanted”.  Here is archy’s own desire, cast at the end of the line.

“Lesson of the Moth” looks simple, but it is carefully crafted.

Play with anaphoras, alliteration, and anastrophes as you write both free verse and pure verse.  Your poems will tighten up structurally as well as begin to focus your ideas.

Having trouble with your poetry? If you swore a resolution to improve your writing style, do check out Discovering Sentence Craft. This handy guidebook covers ideas both figurative and interpretive as well as structures like inversion, opposition, repetition, and sequencing. Find it here:

Start 2021 Right

Start 2020 right by starting that novel you’ve been neglecting.

Trouble with the story line? Check out M.A. Lee’s newest writing how-to guidebook, Discovering Your Plot.

Surveying the plot necessities and the major structures, Lee lands firmly on writing ground by advising all writers to use the Archetypal Story Pattern, which she details in Discovering Plot.

Covering~

>> Genre Expectations

>> Plot Basics

>> Plot Structures for the Masses

>> Plot Structures for Writers

Get your copy today at Amazon.

Happy New Year!

 Happy New Year! Let’s start 2021 with a freebie.

We have the first scene in the novella The Lion’s Den, set in London after the Great War. It’s from M.A. Lee, which means it’s a mystery!

Here’s the Teaser:

Jack Portman had never forgotten Filly Malvaise. Then she walked into his local pub and into the clutches of a loan shark. Can he rescue her before she falls victim to evil?

Listen to the excerpt on Podbean or YouTube. It’s less than 15 minutes.

The Lion’s Den is connected by a single thread to the Into Death series, which features the artist Isabella Newcombe. Jack and Filly first appeared in the mystery Christmas with Death.

Click here if you’re curious about the first Into Death book, Digging into Death.  (It’s a trailer!) Purchase it here.

If you enjoy this excerpt, write to winkbooks@aol.com to receive a free copy of The Lion’s Den and to subscribe to our newsletter. We won’t bombard you with emails, promise, just quick monthly announcements of what’s new and what’s relevant in the Writers Ink world, composed to M.A. Lee, Edie Roones, and Remi Black.

Visit writersinkbooks.com to find more works by these three writers.

PROMO

At the first of the year–and the end of the year–M.A. Lee always promotes the Think/Pro Planner for Writers. The planner offers daily incentives to track word counts and a project’s progression, with monthly and yearly reviews and previews to keep us advancing toward our publication goals.

Purchase here.