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The Circle of Life

by Zettel 

Posted: 22 November 2004
Word Count: 170
Summary: Something hopeful for a change

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Circle of Life

The graceful skeletons
lose their flesh of summer sun.

Naked, stark and cold
rain-oiled sinews
flex in the teasing wind
beckoning to the grey, uneasy skies.

The sylvan acrobats
head dreywards with their spoils
survival stashed in secret stores.

Unfulfilled, the hope of spring
lost in summer's indiscriminate excess
sees wistful autumn in its dying fall
usher winter's cleansing death
missed heartbeat of a necessary pause
until new life insistently returns.

Till then these imperious witnesses of life
accept with grace
the modest clothing snow
and rare finery of rime
oblivious to shame
oblivious to time.

They guard the embryonic spring
that tempts us with precipitate signs
of flakes and drops of earth-born snow
proclaiming the imminence
of as yet unborn but unresisting hope.

And so the eternal cycle of our dreams
explodes in the irresistibility of growth
and our guardians at the gate of trust
await the glorious moment of rebirth
clothed again, stark beauty hid
by the effusion of
the unremitting gift of life.


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Comments by other Members

Elsie at 10:10 on 23 November 2004  Report this post
Hi Zettel - you always manage to send me off to my dictionary! My new words for today: Dreywards & rime, and sylvan I wasn't quite sure of.
Love the missed heartbeat and:
accept with grace
the modest clothing snow
and rare finery of rime
oblivious to shame
oblivious to time
Also like the inevitably of it al, expresssed bu the 'unremitting' and 'irresistibility of growth'

joanie at 10:44 on 23 November 2004  Report this post
Zettel, there are some fantastic images here. The first six lines actually made me shiver! I love your description of the squirrels. 'rare finery of rime' is lovely.

This is an excellent illustration of Nature's cycle and a metaphor which works well, I think, for Hope, in the last lines.

I enjoyed it and look forward to reading it again.


James Graham at 21:01 on 23 November 2004  Report this post
I haven't any carousel problems with this poem. It's the sort of poem that takes up a traditional poetic subject, the cycle of the seasons, but reaches toward a fresh expression of the old theme. There's good visual imagery in the opening lines - 'graceful skeletons', 'rain-oiled sinews', the squirrels. Then as the poem becomes more abstract there are good abstract lines too - 'these imperious witnesses of life', 'our guardians at the gate of trust'. I'd be tempted to cut the poem - not drastically, just a little. For example, the opening lines:

Graceful skeletons lose
their flesh of summer sun.

This becomes a really striking image. 'Of winter's wait' seems not really necessary, and detracts a little from the best things in these two lines. I'd leave out 'bare' in the third line - it's the same as 'naked'. This is just tightening up the lines a bit. Further on, the lines beginning 'The hopeful earth...' could be slimmed to bring out the best in them. Here I've come up with something you may think is too drastic - leave out the whole line 'The hopeful earth enters renewing sleep' (that's a bit conventional) and just have the line 'Missed heartbeat, necessary pause/ until new life...'

One more thing I feel the poem needs is spaces. A division into sections would display each poetic idea more effectively, e.g. a space (and full stop) after 'summer sun'; a break after 'skies' and 'stores' - to give the squirrels their space! - and after that whenever the poem seems to move on to a new development of thought.

Let me know what you think - if you think the poem needs 'pruning' in this way.


Zettel at 23:11 on 23 November 2004  Report this post
Elsie and Joanie
Not my usual territory so I'm very pleased it worked for you. Curious how some poems have to be nagged and worried into shape, this one just sort of fell out looking (almost) complete. (But see re-draft following James' thoughts).

I tried to resist each suggestion to try to 'prove' it. Then I just printed it off with your spaces suggestion. There is a slight alteration in the rhythm but I have to say I like what the spaces do. (The first one troubled me most: I was worried that it seemed a bit pompous, as if the poem was kind of 'announcing itself'. But I think it works

The spaces are scary though: they expose every single word and phrase to the closest possible scrutiny; as if a couple of dancers in the chorus limp and so they're the only ones you see!

Your edits are right.

Thanks for the commitment necessary to get these observations so right.



James Graham at 11:07 on 25 November 2004  Report this post
The spaces are scary...I know what you mean. Maybe not having spaces in your first draft was a sign that you were a bit diffident about letting individual images and ideas 'announce themselves'. But the opening image, and the next one, and the squirrels, and the reflections that follow, all deserve to be displayed for their own sake. This is a big generalisation, but you can run a poem through without spacing if it subordinates everything, all its images and thoughts, to a single idea. But I think your poem is more diverse than that. It does have a unifying theme, a paradox - the changing seasons as a symbol of permanence, a sense that when we look at changes in nature we find 'unresisting hope'. But I think all the same it's right for this poem to have some of its detail on display.


Zettel at 15:56 on 25 November 2004  Report this post

I agree and thanks for your help in improving it.



lieslj at 06:35 on 27 November 2004  Report this post
There are so many original images here, Z, and your edits make sense to me. I read this earlier and this feels trimmer and lighter.

Wonderful work.


Zettel at 12:52 on 27 November 2004  Report this post

Very generous



engldolph at 18:24 on 28 November 2004  Report this post
Hi Z

I really like a lot of the images and ideas in this.
The first 3 stanzas to me were particularly superb: concise, new and evocative

Other fave lines

..sees wistful autumn in its dying fall
..usher winter's cleansing death
..They guard the embryonic spring
that tempts us with precipitate signs
.. clothed again, stark beauty hid

But to me, there is more than one poem in this.

The first 3 stanzas…really sharply drawn..felt this could have continued in similar form…

the 4th stanza seems to start a much broader, philosophic style..again effective in itself.

I thought Stanzas 3,5,6 could be combined in a second poem.


Ling Ling at 22:28 on 29 November 2004  Report this post
I have one word to say about this....WOW!
Absolutely loved it, and imagery within these words is sublime.
Ling Ling x

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