Login   Sign Up 


No title as yet..

by Felicity F 

Posted: 16 February 2010
Word Count: 25
Summary: a little verse.

Font Size

Printable Version
Print Double spaced

I have a heart in my chest,
it beats a little toll of death,
gasping, timorous, sighing -
the sinew of its love is dying.

Favourite this work Favourite This Author

Comments by other Members

James Graham at 11:37 on 19 February 2010  Report this post
Hi Felicity - In a poem as short as this, every word seems to carry an extra charge of meaning and energy. If one word is ‘flat’ - redundant or unnecessary - it’s even more noticeable than perhaps it would be in a long poem. Having said that, I can see only one ‘flat’ word here. I don’t think ‘tired’ needs to be stated, because it can be inferred, and something else should replace it in the middle of that short list. I’m not sure what, maybe something to do with fear or apprehension, or with regret. A word that takes the reader by surprise more than ‘tired’ does. There would be room rhythmically for a longer word, up to four syllables, such as ‘apprehensive’.

In the rest of the poem the words do have a ‘charge’. The first line seems to express surprise - I wasn’t very aware of my heart before now, it was just there, I took it for granted, but now I’ve ‘discovered’ it because suddenly I’m more aware of mortality. The heartbeat being a countdown to death, or like a death knell, is a telling image. The fact that it’s a ‘little’ toll suggests a sense of our relative insignificance as individuals. The last line is maybe the strongest, with ‘sinew’ suggesting the physical heart as a muscle, but also a ‘love’ that has been strong and resilient but now is weak. ‘Love’ is intriguing - we don’t need to be told what kind of love this is, whether it’s love of another person (eros) which is now over, or love of life itself, or love of the world and humanity (agapé); it’s good that all the meanings of ‘love’ should be contained in it, and that it remains ambiguous.

I’m trying to think about the sort of title you might give it, but it’s not easy. You don’t want one that narrows down the possibilities of meaning - for example, some readers might see in this poem a lament for a broken relationship, but if the title were, say, ‘End of an affair’ (not a title you would consider, I’m sure) then that would be that, cut and dried. As it is, untitled, that meaning can be found in it, but the reader has to accept that there are other levels of meaning too. Occasionally poets use the title ‘Poem’ - the least specific - but it often looks like a cop-out. There might as well be no title at all. (Sometimes the poet gets away with ‘Poem’ if it seems to say to the reader, ‘I choose not to give you a key to this poem; use your own key’). I think your title should be one that doesn’t give a key to the poem. I do have an impression that it’s about a new feeling, a beginning or onset, a sudden change - maybe something along these lines.

This must be a record for a long comment on a short poem - but there’s quite a lot in it and quite a lot to say about it.


V`yonne at 16:44 on 19 February 2010  Report this post
How about calling it Beats?

Felicity F at 13:42 on 20 February 2010  Report this post
Thanks James... I very much like your analysis of the poem, which is something I don't do enough of when I write, so I enjoy hearing how my words come across. You are right in saying that the first line contains surprise, and that I meant to leave 'love' as being ambiguous, so that the reader could find their own meaning or 'key' as you say.. For that reason I have found it difficult to get a title and I think perhaps it should have one that does not immediately offer direction.

I will consider another longer word to replace tired. I am glad though that the other words have enough strength to give impact, as I wanted to focus on the words, as it is a short verse.


James Graham at 11:45 on 24 February 2010  Report this post
Glad you got something out of this feedback, Felicity. The way the first line seems to communicate surprise is remarkable really. You meant it to express surprise, I sensed surprise in it. Yet it’s such a simple line, apparently not coloured with any emotion at all. It’s fascinating the way language works sometimes.

In a very short poem you haven’t room to expand. That seems to be stating the obvious, but it means words have to be left on their own - not backed up with clues which you would find elsewhere in a longer poem, clues that point to particular meanings and connotations of a key word. Your word ‘love’ works like that. It has to do more or less a solo job; almost all its meanings and connotations are intact for the reader. This is how short poems work; there’s more to it than just having fewer lines. I wonder if you might try more short pieces?


SarahT at 23:12 on 11 March 2010  Report this post
Hi, I've come to it late and, I think, after you've tweaked. Just to say, therefore, that it looks good to me as it stands.


To post comments you need to become a member. If you are already a member, please log in .