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An Eternal Day

by Zettel 

Posted: 12 April 2007
Word Count: 77
Summary: Another one in the collection

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An Eternal Day

the sky is bluer
the winter leaves
a deeper
life-held green
winter’s icy chill
is refreshing
as a crisp dry
white wine
holding within
its delicate taste
the loving warmth
of the latin sun

The air is clean
and clear
as stars on the
darkest night
and a savoured thought
of yesterday
of a solitary hill
and another form
of beauty
suffuses the soul
heats the blood
in remembrance of
an eternal day.

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Comments by other Members

joanie at 19:57 on 12 April 2007  Report this post
Zettel, this is gorgeous again. I like the vocabulary - I can feel the crispness of the air and the sense of timelessness.



Zettel at 09:10 on 13 April 2007  Report this post
Thanks so much Joannie

we romantics gotta stick together eh?



James Graham at 20:38 on 13 April 2007  Report this post
Zettel, it was the same with your last poem. Joanie gave the romantic response, and then I came in as the sniffy Poetry Inspector. This time I don’t like ‘life-held green’. It means ‘green which is held by life’, which I struggle with. You could say green is given out by life, or put forth by life, or is the signal or colour or clothing of life…but ‘held by life’ I don’t quite see. In any case, all those ‘ideas’ I’ve just listed are a bit cliched; maybe a new line altogether would be best, altering the line-break - ‘a deeper green,/ (new line)’.

‘Winter leaves’ slightly bothers me, for literal reasons. Leaves are quite scarce in winter, but your lines seem to suggest an abundance of them. Could be holly or ivy. I would want to change these lines to ‘the ivy leaves/ a deeper green/ …’ or even, going back again to your original line arrangement:

the ivy leaves
a deeper
life-hoarding green

‘Life-hoarding’ just came out of the blue, just this second. It seems apt - evergreens seem to hang on to life, certainly the green, the visible sign of life, more than other plants do.

That’s all the carping done. I think the free verse form works nicely in this poem. Especially in the second half, you make a free verse stanza out of a single sentence, and each short line seems like a building block; it seems as if an idea is gradually forming. The only bit I think really doesn’t work as it stands is ‘Today…green.’


Zettel at 11:50 on 14 April 2007  Report this post

Had I thought 'life-held green' meant or worse, must mean 'green that is held by life' I wouldn't have used it but my intention was to convey the sense of a green which is holding life. And I felt that one might stretch the tense in the sense not just of this 'holding of life' represented by the green as being of now but also, because the poem recalls an experience actually of yesterday, but also time-less. (sorry dreadful sentence)

It would be interesting to know empirically, not grammatically, what other members of the group read this expression to mean. Is it a question of 'right' or 'wrong' grammatically or the meaning people actually do take from a phrase? Don't get me wrong, I am only too committed to the idea that there are some basic rules that must be followed, but my litmus test as one who is not grammatically sophisticated is that the only no-no is if the use alters meaning or becomes meaningless. Hence my interest in how people read this example. Not my area but is is not true that 'composite' expressions can be either adjectival or adverbial? Which doesn't help me all that much because I find it difficult sometimes to quite now which is intended, as some verb-related expressions appear to me to be used adjectively (?) and vice versa. This uncertainty is the main reason for coming back to you on this one as the rest is to a degree subjective - as it must be. I usually find that your advice makes my poem a better poem but occasionally points towards a different one than intended. But that it seems to me is something to be celebrated.

I felt the use of 'winter leaves' would imply evergreens without spelling it out and because they are always green carried the right resonance for the poem. The spirit of the poem was to try to convey a sense of the denfinitive nature of one's response to a specific day in a specific place etc which none-the-less had a timelessness about it that meant for some reason this particular day would always be remembered as everything in it seemed more alive, more vital, including me.

Thanks as usual: it is so important that you are so honest in your comments as it must always be tempting to be otherwise. I always recall Bertrand Russell's remark:

Always value intelligent dissent more than passive agreement, for if you value intelligence as you should, the former imlpies a deeper agreement than the latter.

I'll go with that - so in that spirit, thanks again for the comments.



James Graham at 15:46 on 15 April 2007  Report this post
Zettel, you're right of course about 'winter leaves'. It's the way the language of poetry works; readers of poetry don't need much help, just a brief phrase or single word to work with. If I'd been more than half awake I'd have taken from 'winter leaves' a whole garden of holly, ivy and other evergreens.

But I still have a problem with 'life-held'. It stubbornly refuses to say anything else to me except 'green that is held by life'. 'Life-holding green' would say 'The green that holds life' - that holds within itself, beneath its surface, the constituents of the life of the plant, its life juices. But it would be interesting to have a comment from someone else who sees 'life-held' differently.


Jordan789 at 05:31 on 17 April 2007  Report this post
Okay. My two cents!

Life-held green:

Any time you talk about greenery, in any sense in a poem, 98% of the time it will automatically make an audience think "that represents life," springtime, rejuvination, anything pastural. So, I think it's just redundant to include. If it's a green person, or something manmade that's green, 98% of the time, it represents money.

Of course, my next question and problem arises because that type of life-giving greenery doesn't exist in the winter. Yes, there are evergreens, but these "greens" are usually quite dull in color, tending towards very dark, to sometimes bluish on a fine spruce. I guess there are the... firs maybe? that have fluffy greens, probably all year too, but i can't recall. still, these sinuous needles hardly correlate to "life-giving."

Of course, since the poem's content is of a great day, stressing the hyperboles, and the bluest of blue skies, and the greenest of green leaves, maybe that description of these evergreens can work out just fine. i'd pay for a solid image to take place of the bland adjective though.

I loved the crisp, white wine line. Very perfect and soothing. Sharp and relaxing. i'd like more of that.

Sorry for so much on the greenery image. Onto the rest of the poem!

The structure: I think the first stanza is a little dense. First two lines are okay, because they're individual clauses, but:

winter’s icy chill
is refreshing
as a crisp dry
white wine
holding within
its delicate taste
the loving warmth
of the latin sun

goes on a little too long. I think the white wine line is so pretty and it should stand by itself.

To move on to: comparing the stars to the clear air. Very curious comparison. Very curious. I don't know how I feel about this yet. I guess, I don't like it. Only because, truthfully, when you say the stars are clear, it is because the air is clear. So saying the air is clear, because the air is clear is somewhat circular reasoning. While this phrase wouldn't hold out in logic class, I haven't the foggiest about how it works in a poem. But it strikes an off chord with me.

The end of the poem makes me wonder about the motivations of the speaker. It is written in tribute of this perfect day, but I wonder what made it so blissful. Most of the poem is sort of general happiness, enjoying the easy, breezy enjoyables of life, and I am very fine and happy about enjoying the pleasantries with the poem. However, when I learned about the memory of "the hill" it forced me to wonder. it makes me see someone with butterflies in their stomach, who is reminiscing about the perfect date--Candles and sardines and all. but this is, of course, an assumption. but I believe that the feeling of blissful abandon works very well here, without going into more details.


James Graham at 22:44 on 17 April 2007  Report this post
Still thinking about winter leaves. The fact that there is still evidence of life in plants, even in winter, is something worth noting, therefore worth expressing in a poem. To digress: there's evidence other than the leaves of evergreens - in October-November, for example, just as their (deciduous) leaves fall, azaleas form buds which remain tightly closed all winter and open in April. The life of the plant is held safely, even through nights when it's five or ten below.

I'm in danger of turning a WW thread into a gardening forum (not for the first time). But the point is that the persistence of life through winter is a fit subject for poetry, because even though it's commonplace, common knowledge, it's still remarkable. ‘Nothing is so beautiful as Spring’ says Hopkins. ‘When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush’. Well, maybe that’s debatable. The persistence of life through winter is beautiful too. So I don’t think the idea of green winter leaves is redundant - but something about the expression of it in the opening lines needs to change.

Which leads me back (again) to ‘life-held green’. I may be simply taking a grammatical view, an English teacher’s view, but I still can’t get my head round the phrase. After the above cogitations I begin to think in terms of the winter leaves being a persistent green, a persevering green, a surviving green - though somehow none of these seems quite the right word.

I see what Jordan means about the white wine image. It jumped out at me on first reading and it’s a pity it couldn’t be more effectively displayed by placing it at the end of one section of the poem. You could almost say the image is strong enough to convey all the poem has to say about the sharpness and freshness of the air. At least there could be a space between ‘white wine’ and ‘holding within’, but the lines from ‘holding within’ to ‘latin sun’ could even be dropped. I’m afraid ‘the loving warmth of the latin sun’ sounds a touch like advertising copy.

But for all that, the poem celebrates something well worth celebrating - not only the persistence of life through the winter, but the whole experience of a winter day. I think the poem as it stands still needs some reworking - and perhaps shortening, even if the symmetry of two 13-line sections is lost.


Account Closed at 01:12 on 18 April 2007  Report this post
The crisp wine image worked for me, the rest not so much, for reasons already stated.

Not fond of ‘winter leaves.’ I had to re-read when arriving at ‘life-held green’ as you mean winter foliage, not winter has departed.

‘Life-held green’ – why should the foliage be any greener that day than any other? If it’s green, it’s green and cannot be greener even with a bluer day. I think of holly, a deep green, and sometimes almost black. It is what it is. But perhaps you want to say there’s a narrator in this poem who has noticed the leaves more that day than any other?

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