Tuesday, February 21, 2006

comments on "The Baker/Bread & Fish", version four

What to say, what to say ... Question marks. We have two of them now. And contractions. One more than last time. 6 stanzas, 4 lines per stanza. All the lines look about the same length. Several instances of enjambment. Last two lines a rhyming couplet. Don't ask me about stresses.

I went back to the very first version, the poem as written in my notebook (then copied to the computer). It's called The Townspeople and the speaker has a much sharper tongue about the message "you" are imparting. Hm. I think if I'd started by reading my first version rather than the later revision I chose as seed for revision here I would have gone in another direction. I suppose I still could ...

The Townspeople

Everybody of consequence in the unincorporated town
had gathered at the low hill's broad foot, their faces turned
slightly up, to see you. Your words swam over their heads,
silvery and quick and nobody could quite grasp them. The townspeople had come
together gradually, drawn first by the moist fragrance of baking bread,
then by the sight of their friends and relations in a group,
and stayed under the sound of rushing water that filled the trees and into which
your words leapt, tails flicking, jaws agape. Their faces shone
in the light of your wisdom like stones in a hurried, clean stream,
you thought, and so let your words get bigger and more muscular,
kinglike in the splendor of their gleam, grandfatherly in their nostalgia
for the golden age. At the table afterwards you buttered a thick slice
for every one of them as they waited patiently in a long line,
and finally each exclaimed to you as to their neighbors
over the nutty heartiness of the bread, the crust that was not too tough
but really wonderfully chewy. A few even went ahead and bought
a loaf. And one bought three but said you needed something
more than butter. You needed thin slices of salted fish; and juicy,
aromatic onions, which he had in quantity, the blessing of a harvest
so generous it was wasteful, but now, he could see, was
a miracle, really. You were just the person God had sent in answer to his prayers.

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