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Insight - Version II

by joanie 

Posted: 02 July 2005
Word Count: 169
Summary: My attempt at a tritina, which we have just started to look at in Poetry Seminar.

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Version II

Gasping as your form comes into sight,
I hold the smile until I leave the room
then break, a burnt-out matchstick, black and spent,

my head remembering all the hours I spent
in trying to beguile you. “Out of sight
and out of mind”, my mother said. No room

for sentiment. I tried to give you room
to contemplate what happy times we spent
together, but they faded from your sight.

My eyesight falters, give me room, I’m spent.

Version I

Slipping delicately out of sight,
I hold the smile until I leave the room
then crumple as a tissue, damp and spent,

my thoughts regurgitating all the hours I spent
in trying to console you. “Out of sight
and out of mind”, my mother said. No room

for sentiment, emotions; “Give him room
to hang himself. Just let him think of all time he spent
fulfilling his own dreams while you were not in sight.”

As I catch sight of you, the room revolves, composure spent.

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Comments by other Members

paul53 [for I am he] at 17:38 on 02 July 2005  Report this post
Excellent what can still be squeezed into the confines.
Mr Rusty here had to go and look up what a tritina was [a shortened sestina, apparently, so that told me]. Sounds more like a girl with 3 legs.
Anyway, well done. I enjoyed this.

Elsie at 18:53 on 02 July 2005  Report this post
Hi Joanie, I didnt' know what a sestina or tritina was bfefore I read this. I read this first, enjoyed the sentiment, it made me think of 'Room with a View', or a costume drama, and I realise it was the formality of the format, probably, that gives that feeling. Love the first stanza, wonder if regurgitating is the right word.. perhaps it's just me seeing this as a more formal, tense situation, regurgitating being too 'organic'. I don't know. back to my box..

Nell at 08:20 on 03 July 2005  Report this post
Hi joanie,

I keep reading - the feel is elusive, the meaning slips away just as I almost grasp it. What has he done? - not literally hanged himself - too crude in view of the mother's words. Another woman perhaps. Delicious mystery. There's a formality in the words as well as in the format - I tried reading without 'delicately' (which seems very you), substituted 'like a tissue' for 'as a tissue,' wondered about 'composure spent'. I like the way you've used the repeated words, shifting the meanings. What did you think of the form? I found it somewhat dissatisfying - it didn't seem to say all I wanted - no doubt some failing on my part. There was a larger story to be told so I'm working it into a sestina, which is why it's taking longer.


Nell at 08:21 on 03 July 2005  Report this post
Elsie - good to see you back, if only for a moment!

joanie at 09:52 on 03 July 2005  Report this post
Thank you, Paul, Elsie and Nell. I'm struggling to get to grips with this myself, actually! It needs some clarification, I think. I'm working on it. Thanks for reading.


fevvers at 12:07 on 04 July 2005  Report this post
Hi Joanie

This is a lovely go at the tritina. What I like about this form is the way it allows one to look at a seemingly small event, like your character leaving a room after a traumatic event and fainting, and giving that event a vast resonance. You don't have to give the reader everything to make the poem work. And even though there are repetitions, unlike the sestina you don't have to keep working ideas, words, over and over - the sestina is great for obsessiveness. The repetitions in the tritina seem to me to have something of the meditative poem without the writer having to strive for any conclusions.

I think you've hit exactly the right subject for this form! With wonderfully ambitious end-words. I'd have liked to have seen 'sight' used more dynamically (as you do 'room' and 'spent').

I think because you have little space to work in you have to be very strict on how you fill your lines. For me your first line especially is not doing enough work. The second line is lovely (my favourite), but I question the image it develops of 'crumpling as a tissue' because it implies the tissue crumples of its own volition and tissues don't, they are[i/] 'crumpled', they don't 'crumple'. Also check your metre, if you're sticking to iambic pentameter (which most of the poem is in) then scan each line and make sure they have five stresses.

I love the voice of the mother but don't give her too much, allow the speaker to own more of the poem. The last line seems too formal in its voice (as does regurgitate earlier) and unclear why the 'you' is seen at the end.

Having said all this, I really enjoyed the poem. Well done for trying the Tritina and doing so well!



Not sure why that is in italics - sorry.

joanie at 15:37 on 04 July 2005  Report this post
Thanks, fevvers, for your detailed and thoughtful response. I have changed it quite a bit and feel happier with it. It's an interesting form to try, I think!


Nell at 15:54 on 04 July 2005  Report this post
Hi joanie,

I'm so glad you left version 1 up to compare - this has really developed since my first reading. Love the ...burnt-out matchstick, black and spent... ...give me room, I'm spent... and 'beguile' says so much more than 'console' in this context. The editing of those words has changed the voice very subtly; there was a hint of tragic heroine in the first, this speaks more of disappointment, disillusion, yet the mystery remains, the reader has a part in the poem. A great response to the tritina exercise.


joanie at 16:31 on 04 July 2005  Report this post
Thank you, Nell. Yes, I like it better myself now. Thanks for having another read.


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