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River Deep

by Zettel 

Posted: 18 February 2007
Word Count: 223
Summary: Over-posting. Sorry, but keen to get some feedback on this one.

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River Deep

In the dark labyrinth of sleep
a consciousness awoke
an unfathomed river
deeply flowing surged
gathering its unchecked pace
Upon the banks on either side
were fires, beacons
to guide the river’s way
on its eternal journey
to the vastness of the sea

On night-hid riparian strands
fire-shadowed daemons ran
who mocked and screamed with hate
Shape-shifting creatures of the dark
wailed and shrieked and bayed
but the river swirled and raced
rushed on undismayed
gathering its confluenced identity
building its hydraulic power
towards its peaceful estuary

From its tapering source
in the highest mountain’s heart
runnels rills and brooks
rivulets and streams
together gathered potency
creating tributaries and channels
to become a sinewed river
something men would name
gaining depth and rivered pride
the gods alone could tame

The river does not seek the sea
but it is its destiny
to find the ocean’s depths
Though never truly lost
its youthful quickening flood
cascading crashing done
slows to a calm acceptance
of a transformation
to a deeper form of strength
its many parts now one

And so in loving sacrifice
its urgent journey done
passion power and purpose
now relinquished willingly
the river flows beyond remembrance
and almost imperceptibly
adds its self-regarding energy
its long journey’s memory
all it was and is to be absorbed
within the ocean’s deep immensity

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Comments by other Members

Account Closed at 16:23 on 18 February 2007  Report this post
Z, just a note to say I've read this. Will comment in a few days.


Zettel at 19:21 on 18 February 2007  Report this post
thanks juliet

look forward to the comments - I hope!



Account Closed at 14:30 on 19 February 2007  Report this post
I like this because I think it captures the changing nature of water, and by inference, man. The beginning feels urgent and turbulent. There’s a dark quality of something raw and primeval, of a waking consciousness that is later harnessed and then, at the end when the water has journeyed, its nature has finally calmed. The whole is energetic and draws me in.

The main issue, in my opinion, which stops this work from being a smooth read, however, is the rhythm. I think you have it right that the rhythm changes in response to how the water behaves. I think that’s good and this poem captures much of the energetic qualities of ‘the sea, the ocean, the dark’. But as these elements move from one state to another, I think the rhythms need clearer transitions so they do not work against each other.

I don’t know if this is a work in progress, if you are ‘resting’ it or have decided it is complete. Therefore, you may want to file my comments away and look at them again after some time has passed.

I hope these comments are helpful to you,


Jordan789 at 21:00 on 20 February 2007  Report this post
Hello, hello.

A poem like this makes me wonder what the attraction is to abstraction. We have this grandiose verbiose metaphor for a troubled consciousness, and it's all so abstract. Why not get into the real a bit, and make a character rolling down the river on a raft? That way something is at stake. Because, honestly, what does water have to fear of raparian demons? What does the unfeeling, uncaring, destructive, yet life sustaining, water care where it goes? It follows gravity and swirls with the wind and rises and lowers with the moon.

I guess, for me, the poem does not succeed in its personification of water. I do not see a character emerge in the river's journey and for all I care, the demons could scoop up the water and use it to wash their filthy teeth.

So, my critique, in a nutshell boils down to: too much abstraction and far too many adjectives. Sorry, I do not have much to offer.


Zettel at 04:26 on 21 February 2007  Report this post

Goodbye goodbye.

Do you like poetry at all?


Jordan789 at 06:34 on 21 February 2007  Report this post
I do. I do. I was reading contracts all morning and that put me in a bad mood. So while I focused mainly on the context of the poem, I somewhat ignored the form.

But yes, I do like poetry, but I like poetry that is not overly wordy. This poem repeats itself over and over again, and I think it severely detracts from the poem's strength. While I enjoy the rhythm and feel that if the sounds and mode of the poem are considered foremost then the poem gains weight.

I guess I like simple poetry about simple things that are real, say the old man who plays the accordion down at the Union Square subway stop. One image, without all of those "the river starts at the heart of the mountain" ideas, carries so much weight and meaning. People can connect to images, not so much to demons threatening a river. While epics are fun, as this does remind me strangely of the beginning to Dante's Inferno, in form, epics also are carried mainly by characters, which is why i made the above suggestion about adding one. Of course the length fails to qualify it as an epic, but there is a journey, and there is a largeness at hand, if not in length then in meaning.

Why I have a problem with the context of the poem: rivers are inanimate and cannot have battles with demons, there is something grand and amazing about the magnitute, strength, distance and power in a water, and I admire this appreciation presented; at the same time when I think about how rivers tend to dawdle and take their time, and how the water cycle and clouds and atmospheric pressure carries water around the globe, I see a problem with the ultimateness of the ending, and the poem all together.

I know I am giving this too much of an analytic thrashing, and the poem probably doesn't need it, so I apologize. But a poem should be, well, true and above all it should be recognizable, readable and relatable.

I understand that this poem is probably driven at a larger metaphor, and you can talk about destiny and following the heart or whatever, but that's sort of clammy these days.

Please ask me any questions you might have about what I've said, and I'll be glad to clarify.


Zettel at 10:48 on 21 February 2007  Report this post

I have no problem whatsoever with your personal views. That goes with the territory of posting a poem in the first place. And this second response is at least considered. The first, as with another response you sent to me just seemed like the first liverish, pissed off thoughts you had which you then shared with me.

If you will forgive me - I don't know what this means:

People can connect to images, not so much to demons threatening a river

First - what is my metaphor but an image? Perhaps one you do not connect to. But that's not the same as your blithe generalised assertion, based upon I know not what, that people in general don't respond to such images. No critic, and I write lots of criticism, should ever claim that their personal judgement or view represents the view of people in general. Politicians do that all the time and it sucks.

Enough or I will wrongly convey the impression that I cannot take criticism and I can. But there is a sensitivity required: in commenting upon anything that is honestly written the focus should be on the qualities of the work , not the off the cuff prejudices of the critic. Still less the exptrapolation of these personal views to an assumption that they represent what most people think. It is the contempt for what people in general actually think that makes the politician's claims of this kind so objectionable. Their ability to hear is drowned out by the sound of their own voice.

Thanks for the second comment and for the thought you on that occasion put into it.


PS My own experiecne of contracts and the devious, diabolically obscure lawyer-language in which they are expressed, makes it only too easy for me to identify with the metaphor of demons buggering up my life.

R-Poet at 18:41 on 21 February 2007  Report this post
err ... sorry to intrude on these well-held views ...

I enjoyed the energy and passion of this piece. But then I used to write mainly in a style that was regarded by many as abstract, but which to me was loaded with metaphors.

Coincidentally, on reading the poem, but not yet having seen the comments, I had planned to make a legal-oriented remark. I'd noted the absence of commas (and of full stops) and wondered if a legal mind was toying with the punctuation!

And now I must look up "riparian" in my dictionary ...

Summary: Good strong, sinewy poem.

Zettel at 02:30 on 22 February 2007  Report this post

Thanks for the comments. I agonised a bit about 'riparian' it sounds a bit arsey if I may put it that way but then I struggled to sustain the rhythm for the opening of the second stanza and decided in the end that the word expressed exactly what I wanted to say and more importantly carried the rhythm I needed.


Left you till last because I have been looking carefully at what you say about rhythm which is very interesting. First because the pattern you detect was unconscious and arose simply from the ideas and the feelings and words they they generated. I'm still mulling your thought over. Thanks for it - stimulating. And a bit challenging in a good way.

thanks again all


James Graham at 09:30 on 22 February 2007  Report this post
Wondered why the cups were rattling and a book fell off the shelf. It was a quake on WW. Not much time to comment this week but will try to add something to this one.


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