Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Shirley Gale

Life's Candle

Recommended Posts

Hello Everyone,

I want to share another one of my poems. I love this poem so much because of the way that it portrays life. I am always amazed by the arrangement of words and the way those words make us feel. I hope you will share your views on how this poem makes you feel. Your views and criticisms help me to grow and develop more in my writings. Someday, I hope to publish my book of poems.

Thanks,

Shirley

Life's Candle.docx

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Shirley, it would be much better if you simply posted the poem on the page. Copy and Paste works well and preserves the formatting.  

Attaching a word document  forces people to download a file that could potentially hold a virus.  Some people, mobile users in particular, may not have a program to open the file.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, will do. I know you told me this before, but for some reason, I saw that everybody else attached their poetry. I certainly want as many people as possible to see it. so I will post them.

Thanks :)

On 11/8/2015, 7:11:13, Troy said:

Hi Shirley, it would be much better if you simply posted the poem on the page. Copy and Paste works well and preserves the formatting.  

Attaching a word document  forces people to download a file that could potentially hold a virus.  Some people, mobile users in particular, may not have a program to open the file.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

This is the repost of my poem. Thanks Troy!

Life’s Candle

I saw a candle lit today,

long and strong created from clay.

Hot molten wax, no life in sight,

cooled to perfection and shaped just right.

Strong and slender, the wick took form,

the flame its beginning, a new thing is born.

A new breath inhaled, the candle—it cries.

An old breath exhaled, the candle—it dies.

 

The success of the flame is the endurance of man,

it flickers and flutters, so grand does it stand.

While melting and bending, it fears the wind’s gust.

Life is a mystery with no one to trust.

The burning of the wick shows a life endured.

The melting of the wax shows a death assured.

No air to breathe, the candle cease to be—

the flame gone out, I turn to Thee.

Shirley G. Perry-Church, 1993

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a right-side brained guy so poetry is often lost on me, but like this one.

If you don't mind I have a couple of questions

The line below threw me off a bit. I'm not sure what is meant by "one one to trust."  The poem seems spiritual in nature.  I take in "thee" in the final line to refer to God, but since it is not capitalized you may be referring to the reader, as if you are revealing a vulnerability we all share.

 Life is a mystery with one one to trust.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for catching my mistakes. I type so much that I cannot see my errors even after reading my materials over and over again. I would like to do a study on the brain to discover why one cannot see an error once it has been entered. :) I made the exact same errors on the original post. Thanks for liking this one. I really like it too.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Those studies on the brain have already been done :-)  Fundamentally, we Sapiens create stories to make sense of the world.  In the content of writing, we know what we intended to write, so that is what we actually read--even if it is not on the page.  This is the reason getting an editor when you publish a book is necessary, it is very difficult to edit your own work--especially while you are writing it.

It is also why poetry is so interesting because the form lends itself for people to create stores; the writer could never have possibly intended.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just happen to notice this post because with the exception of Haiku I am not that into poetry any more and hardly ever come to this forum. But, - when I saw Troy's name as the last poster, I decided to check out the leaves on the Poetree. 

Whatever.  I read "Life' s Candle" and as is Cynique's habit,  took on the role of  critic...  My immediate reaction was a problem with the mixed metaphor that greeted me.  The candle is curiously made from clay(?) in one line and then becomes "hot molten wax" in the following line. My next red flag was the use of a candle as a metaphor for life because this is so common that to do so hampers originality; how many ways can't you versify a snuffed out wick representing death?? Which brings us to Shirley's need to inform the reader that a candle is a symbol of life's mystery when actually, this message didn't ring true since she made the comparison between a candle and life anything but a mystery.  And, there's always the snag of poems that rhyme, because to make words rhyme, sentences  often have to be transposed, something which can make them awkward. Like Troy, I also was thrown by the sudden insertion of the word "thee", and wondered who it was meant for, - which is not necessarily a bad thing because it leaves things to the reader's imagination. Unfortunately in my imagination, using "thee" was an affectation.

 Anyhoo,  poetry is a personal thing and as long as it is an extension of the poet's soul, so be it, 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I also avoided this Cynique because I was taught by a strict versification and meter professor when I earned my MFA (poetry and fiction). I also taught Creative Writing and I tend to be very hard on poetry because of the way I was taught.  After seeing your comments though I guess I'm doing Shirley a disservice by not commenting. I'm conflicted about commenting because it can scare a person into not posting, but I have a feeling that Shirley has thick skin... so here we go.

Life’s Candle  (cliche title - much too easy to name the poem this)

I saw a candle lit today, 

long and strong created from clay. (intriguing to see a candle made of clay, but when you use inverted syntax, adjectives after the noun, this moves the poem automatically into doggerel territory, and gives me a pause... what's worse is that I have a phallic image when it comes to candles and long and strong did nothing to stop that.)

Hot molten wax, no life in sight, (No, molten? I understand the flame was hot, but to equate it to a volcano implies that the candle was hot enough to melt through anything which means that it couldn't cool so quickly, and you have personified the poem by implying that it can't see life. Molten cooled is volcanic rock and it's impossible to be shaped to perfection after being molten unless it was in a mold.)

cooled to perfection and shaped just right.

Strong and slender, the wick took form, (Inverted syntax. Don't do this to attain the rhyme. Rhyme should be a natural process and shouldn't be jarring. Also you used strong once already, vary your word choice).

the flame its beginning, a new thing is born. (I guess smoke is born from the flame, but once again it's very tricky personifying the candle. I guess as a metaphor you can do it, but below you really push with the couplet dies and cries (predictable rhyme) and giving the candle human qualities. It would be more powerful to actually write about the person the candle represents as opposed to this personification.)

A new breath inhaled, the candle—it cries.

An old breath exhaled, the candle—it dies. (Much too easy and simple)

 

The success of the flame is the endurance of man, (No, a flame is a flame, use a simile and it still doesn't make sense. The flame sits atop the candle to provide light. I definitely get the connection. But wouldn't this work just as well: Man's endurance, like that of a flame, flickers and flutters fearing the wind. Notice the alliteration of those Fs creates the sound of a flickering flame? That's nice.)

it flickers and flutters, so grand does it stand.

While melting and bending, it fears the wind’s gust. (You haven't shifted back to the candle so the melting doesn't quite make sense if this is still the flame. You are inverting syntax again which is a serious no-no. You did it the previous line as well.)

Life is a mystery with no one to trust. (If you insert a space break here you can shift to a discussion on a person, but by connecting this to the previous line this stanza is forced. More important this is a cliche and an overused idea.)

The burning of the wick shows a life endured. (No diggity... We all knew where this was going. It's an emotional poem, but in serious poetry, we don't tell, we show. Imagery is the foundation of all poems and if you've shown in going out, then this can be inferred.)

The melting of the wax shows a death assured. (Syntax again, and forcing this rhyme is not good.)

No air to breathe, the candle cease to be— (Personification and verb agreement... the worst part is the idea that the candle is breathing. Candles don't breathe.)

the flame gone out, I turn to Thee. (Inverted syntax and the introduction of someone else at the close is a no no. Poetry is personal, but there are rules. You have here 16 lines. Two octet stanzas with a rhyme scheme that allows the rhymes to come to close together especially when the syntax and verb agreement has problems. When rhyming it is almost always better form to use Iambic pentameter as the line length because the poem has time to move into the next rhyme. Some of your lines have a bit of ghost meter, but you run the line over into extra syllables without justification or reason.)

Once again, I definitely apologize if this seems too abrasive. This was my response after about two reads. I'm sure if I stayed with it longer I could write more, but this is a workshop styled critique and what you can expect if you ever decide to submit your poems to an agent or publisher. The difference is it would be a much longer critique and more than likely you would never hear from that agent or publisher. I don't confess to be the best teacher, but I'm pretty good. 

Since I don't do this often I will offer a rewrite and my suggestions.

The flame danced on the candle as people passed. (Personification/alliteration - p)

Melted wax, like water, reflected warm fire. (Simile/alliteration - w)

Black wick smoking slightly above the glass, (Imagery/alliteration - s)

no one noticed how this transpired. (Note the rhyme scheme is ABAB instead of rhymed couplets. Also each line has 10 syllables very close to Iambic pentameter so the lines read better, but definitely needs work)

The candle is lit at birth and at death. (Notice I just said this outright instead of making the candle a living thing. Whether it's true or not is not the point, by default the candle now represents life and death.

The one who made the candle doesn't know

the person who bought or lights the candle.

You get the idea. I really don't do this often, but I'm extremely passionate about poetry and if you've been writing a while, it would be great if you could post a sonnet or a syllabic poem for us to read. I always say that we don't have to know the rules of poetry, just write what you feel. I do believe this, but I know you have said several times that you are considering finding an agent. I wouldn't be helping you if I let you submit a poem without being told how "professionals" view poetry. At any rate, this is only a critique like in a workshop. If it helps, cool. If it doesn't, cool. I just hope it wasn't too abrasive.

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@CDBurns, that was very generous of you to offer such a detailed critique.  

Your point, "...it can scare a person into not posting" is actually important too, because it is an issue.  There are some that are really very sensitive and would be hurt and discouraged by an unsolicited critique--no matter how well intentioned it was.  

I too tried to moderate my comments to Shirley, even though I was pretty sure the line I posted needed to be changed, she may have just posting her piece to share and was not interested in commentary.  I also held back on too much commentary myself because I simply don't know that much about the technical aspects of poetry.  

But I again, I liked the spirit of what Shirley wrote. And @Shirley Gale you know I appreciate you sharing here so thanks again.

Chris why is the inverted syntax a big deal--even if the reason is to get the end rhyme?  One of the rhymes I reminder from grade school goes like this;

If you hear from a panther,
Don't anther

The teacher explained that the spelling of anther (rather than answer), was an example of "poetic license."  If you can change the spelling of words to achieve a rhyme why not the "Yoda-Like" syntax?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"If called by a panther, don't anther" is a famous line written by poet, Ogden Nash, an exponent of the nonsense poetry genre, "anther" being the way a person with a speech pediment would say "answer". (Nonsense poetry originated with nursery rhymes.)  Another famous couplet of Ogden Nash is: "candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker".  

When it comes to poems about candles, bon vivant Edna St. Vincent Millay's little verse is also famous: "My candle burns at both ends/It will not last the night/But ah my foes and oh my friends/ It gives a lovely light."

                                                   

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most teachers have never studied poetry with any real depth, so they honestly have a difficult time teaching their students. It's like when people expect English majors to be the perfect people for teaching grammar, when the honest fact is most English majors are better at analysis than grammar. The people who should teach grammar are linguistics majors. Want to see the speech and grammar improve in schools? Hire a linguist and have the students take both linguistics and English in school. Most English teachers and even some professors in some instances, have probably taken one or two courses where they analyzed poetry, but they have no idea of scansion, meter or the "rules" of poetry which poets work with. Poetic license in a limerick is a expected which is what that line is. Dr. Suess does it all of the time, but those poems are not meant to be taken seriously. Suess is also doing inverted syntax intentionally for comedic effect. I don't know if that was the case in this poem as it is in a lot of poetry that is written by those who are unaware of the various methods of creating poetry. 

I think everyone should write what they feel and what they are comfortable with. However, when we begin to submit to agents and publishers and they ask why you didn't use iambic tetrameter with substitute feet like dactyls or trochees or amphabracs, then novice poets run into trouble. (Honestly publishers and agents simply won't accept the submission.) It is definitely an elitist attitude, but one of the first things that I used to teach in creative writing is that if you wouldn't say this normally, why would you embellish and change the way you speak in poetry? Poetry is not fiction. It is often personal and very close to the person writing so we usually associate it with something the person goes through... which isn't the case in fiction. Now in narrative poetry you can tell stories and make it fictional, but that is often the exception not the rule.

Rhymes should not come to close together and typically only when using certain line lengths to avoid a doggerel, but... you can always write whatever you want. I do like the idea of the poem, just not the execution.

6 minutes ago, Cynique said:

"If called by a panther, don't anther" is a famous line written by poet, Ogden Nash, an exponent of the nonsense poetry genre, "anther" being the way a person with a speech pediment would say "answer". (Nonsense poetry originated with nursery rhymes.)  Another famous couplet of Ogden Nash is: "candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker".  

When it comes to poems about candles, bon vivant Edna St. Vincent Millay's little verse is also famous: "My candle burns at both ends/It will not last the night/But ah my foes and oh my friends/ It gives a lovely light."

                                                   

Now notice the lines from Edna and how natural those lines read. The rhyme isn't an intrusion. That is how and why maintaining syntax is so important it shows command of the craft. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now that is really interesting Cynqiue I was not aware that the poem was famous, and I see my recollection of exact lines were faulty, but I was recalling something from grade school over 40 years ago.  Still the essence of the lesson persisted after so many years.

Now Chris I think Dr. Suess should be taken seriously.  I enjoyed his work as a kid, but it was not until I began reading his work to my own children, many years later, that I realized that his poetry was more than just silly rhymes and drawings of weird looking people.  He was relaying important messages.  His poem about the Lorax should be read by some of the people running the country. But I understand that you are not equating Dr, Suess with Vincent Millay's work. Millay's work is clearly intended for someone who has lived a little.

Those four lines are deep 

My candle burns at both ends
It will not last the night
But ah my foes and oh my friends
It gives a lovely light

There is just so much in there thanks for sharing that Cynique...

Chris do you think raps artist know anything about poetry, should they? RaKim used internal rhyme and people thought he was a lyrical genius.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I made a mistake in saying that Dr. Suess shouldn't be taken seriously. I meant to say that his poetry was intentionally whimsical and full of internal rhymes to create a musical sound that actually appeals to children when they are being read to aloud, which all poetry should be read aloud in my opinion.

As far as rappers, the intent is to remain in the pocket and on beat. What's interesting though is how very close to using meter most rappers come without probably ever knowing anything about it. Rappers also don't force rhymes. The rhyme is often very natural and in many instances they use multisyllabic rhymes which is always considered impressive. I honestly think if rappers became aware of technique it would hurt their ability to freestyle. No one wants to sit and count syllables and feet to make sure they aren't running over line length. Rap is poetry however. I consider a form of free verse, which often has elements of meter. Rakim is definitely a lyrical genius. I mean look at how easily this flows: 

I take 7 emcees put 'em in a line
And add 7 more brothers who think they can rhyme
Well, it'll take 7 more before I go for mine
Now that's 21 emcees ate up at the same time

 

Look at how natural those rhymes are! There isn't any inverted syntax to force the rhyme.

Me and Eric B was coolin' at the Paladium
Seen a all-world cover girl, I said 'Hey lady I'm
Sorry if You're in a rush - Don't let me hold ya up
Or interveen or interrupt, but
You got the look - I wanna get to know ya better
I had to let her know - but yo, I didn't sweat her

I don't do a lot of writing about poetry because I love the craft so much that I tend to go overboard in discussions and I'm not half as bad as some older poets I know. I do enjoy just reading the artform and Shirley I truly hope I haven't overwhelmed you with my critique and discussion. 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry, I am just responding. I have been very busy painting the last two days. I must confess that I am not an artist either, but I love working with paint. I am very surprised that there are many out there who actually like my work--I never would have thought.

Now, this is what I am talking about. I think I got some good stuff started here. I read every single word of your comments and I am just as eager as I was before to continue writing and posting.  CDBurns, you are right, my skin is soooo thick :) I am totally accustomed to red ink. I say this to you: The better I see it my dear. It is red ink that has made me the scholar that I am today.

After living a life of sheer hell and coming out beautifully clean on the other side, I welcome this type of critiquing. I must say, though, I am not a poet, nor do I aspire to become one. However, I am a dedicated writer with lots of passion. I wrote these poems when my life was in shambles. I did not stop one time to study the rhyme or reasons to poetry--I just wanted to write what was on my heart and mind. Like I've said, writing saved my life on countless occasions, so too did these poems. Don't worry, I wouldn't think about writing a book of poetry without doing some hard studying. However, that is not even where I am heading. 

By the way, I am also accustomed to rejections. I have received many in my time and there are certainly more to come. But guess what, I don't quit. I will continue to post and I look forward to even more comments from more of you. This type of interchange is what brings vitality to this forum.

Troy, don't worry, I am a big girl. I don't intend to run away because of constructive criticism.  This is what this is, right?

Thanks for taking the time to respond to my work. I asked for comments and suggestions in terms of feedback and I have somewhat accomplished my goal in getting a quality response from you and Cynique. You see, I learn something new, informative, and exciting every single day. I am a smart cookie; I know how to wake people up!

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Shirley Gale I'm pleased that you took the comments as intended.  Indeed your response is refreshing.  I think others will benefit from your contributions and spirit on this discussion forums.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am so relieved!!!! Like I said, I won't do this often, but I thought I read in another post that you were submitting books of poetry to agents and publishers and I thought a MFA styled critique was what could help. I'm really glad that you didn't take offense, because even in seminars and workshops, I've seen people lose it over their writing especially when it's so personal. I'll share a poem of mine if you like and you can analyze and critique it if you like. Just say the word. I have a book of poetry that I've never promoted so it would be alright if you'd like that. Keep writing! It definitely has a great therapeutic qualities.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoticons maximum are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×