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somonka: two lovers in winter

by Liminality


one.

winter returns and

i journey again, southbound,

seeking you,

though you walk beside me, torchlight

aflame in your distant face

two.

why would snowflakes

melt under a southern sun?

of clear blue skies

you must forget, though wildfire

could imprint ash on your scalp


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Fri Sep 24, 2021 2:48 am
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SpiritedWolfe wrote a review...



Hi Lim! I'm working through the checklist, and I remembered you like structured poems, so I wanted to drop a review for you :)

I really liked this piece! Since the structure of the poem is limited to only five lines, you don't have a lot of space to expand on big, flowery imagery. That said, the piece still has strong imagery that draws the reader in to its story, the back and forth between two lovers. You have a really great flow, especially in the first stanza, that makes it easy to follow. The second stanza tripped me up some on the third line, though, which made me have to reread the first few lines of that stanza.

Within your first stanza, you build up the conflict of this piece. The scene is set in winter, which is typically thought of as cold and harsh, which matches the later description of the second lover being distant and perhaps emotionally cold. This speaker is trying to move southbound, which I read as trying to find warmer climates, like how birds migrate south in the winter (if they're in the northern hemisphere), and warm up their partner and restore their relationship in some way. I really like the imagery of trying to "find" your lover, even when they stand beside you, since it really solidifies the problems they are having with one another. It also sets up the issue as something deeper, perhaps more long lasting, like an entire season, rather than a flippant issue.

The second stanza is clearly the response, from the one who is distant. They have a more bleak outlook on this relationship, inquiring why moving south would help anything with the line "why would snowflakes / melt under a southern sun?" I really like this idea, since it challenges the assumption that things could be better for them, or maybe it's just cold and harsh everywhere.

However, it was the next lines that confused me a bit. I think the third and fourth lines are saying "you should forget of clear blue skies", but you've flipped them to fit the structure of a somonka, but that wasn't initially obvious to me, and it pulled me out of the flow for a moment. Is the second lover suggesting that they must forget of the possibility of something between them? Or are they suggesting that this is something they must weather out. Also, I did appreciate the parallel between the torchlight and the wildfire, but I didn't quite see how the wildfire connected to the blue skies. The use of "though" implies some kind of rebuttal, but the images don't feel connected to me, at least not in a contradiction sense. The forget line feels like it's saying this won't get better, and the wildfire is a warning of destruction that could come, which is an optimistic line.

Is there meant to be a sense of resolution at the end or end at uneasiness for these two lovers? As it stands now, it leans towards the second, since the response is much less optimistic and hints at demise instead of the restitution the first speaker seeks. I think either are fine, just wanted to give you the impression I felt of the piece :)

Overall nice job! Hopefully some of my thoughts helped, haha. Happy writing ^^
~ Wolfe




Liminality says...


Thanks so much for the review, Wolfe! I enjoyed reading your analysis of the piece very much, especially the connotations of the seasons and the parallel images you noticed.

Is the second lover suggesting that they must forget of the possibility of something between them? Or are they suggesting that this is something they must weather out.

These are interesting interpretations. I think I was going for something a little different, but you are right that those lines are ambiguous (perhaps more ambiguous than I'd like).

As it stands now, it leans towards the second, since the response is much less optimistic and hints at demise instead of the restitution the first speaker seeks.

Both do make some sense, because in a way, fire can sometimes destroy the old to leave room for something new. My intention probably also leans more towards uneasiness though.

Thanks again!



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Fri Jul 23, 2021 10:23 am
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TheRebel2007 wrote a review...



Have a good day, Liminality! The review:

A short and ambiguous story in a poem, that's interesting!

First stanza

"winter returns and

i journey again, southbound,

seeking you,"

I presume that the two stanzas are about the two lovers and their thoughts about each other, as it is named as "somonka." So, I am going to presume that this means that one of the lovers is going south in winter to seek for his/her love of life.

"though you walk beside me, torchlight

aflame in your distant face"

I think this means that the lovers are far away from each other. But one can feel each other close to each other, even though they are far away from each other - as a symbolism of love.

Second stanza

"why would snowflakes

melt under a southern sun?"

This is ambiguous, and I like that. This sentence can be sarcasm, or this can be longing against the natural course of nature. I presume it is the latter of them, as the meaning of the tanka becomes more beautiful.

"of clear blue skies

you must forget, though wildfire

could imprint ash on your scalp"

This is the most ambiguous part of the poem, and aye, that's the beauty of it. This part of the somonka makes me think that there was a previous feud between the two lovers and they have now settled the quarrel and that they want to meet each other once again. i think the lines suggest that the lovers must forget the old quarrels between each other, even though the burden of it could have imprinted sorrow upon the hearts.

All in all, the ambiguity and the style of the poem fascinates me. I admire this poem and I would love to read more of these!




Liminality says...


Sorry for the late reply to this! Thanks so much for your review.

i think the lines suggest that the lovers must forget the old quarrels between each other, even though the burden of it could have imprinted sorrow upon the hearts.


That's an intriguing interpretation! I do think the idea of remembering and forgetting is pretty prominent both in the words and in my thoughts as I was writing it. Thanks again!



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Thu Jul 22, 2021 12:30 pm
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Lily_ofthe_Valley18 wrote a review...



I love how abstract this poem is. It eludes to the writer's ability to play on the reader's deeper feeling and imagination, it's something that I truly admire. I may be a little rusty in the review department, but I do have a few questions!
1: what do the numbers represent?
2: Are they having a quarrel? The main character speaks of seeking the other person but they are standing right next to each other, is there something wrong?
3: What does it mean that ash could imprint on their scalp?

Overall, I love the bold strokes that came with this piece of poetry: short, sweet but also packed a punch. Keep it up!




Liminality says...


Thanks for the review!
The numbers were just a way to mark two different speakers for each tanka. Question 2 is pretty spot on there! I was intending to go for something like that, like the second speaker is physically but not emotionally or mentally present. For the third question - I just wanted a sort of destructive fire image to link back to the "torchlight" and the "distant face "in the first tanka.

Overall, I love the bold strokes that came with this piece of poetry: short, sweet but also packed a punch.


Ah thank you! <3 That's very flattering. Short with a punch is what I love about these traditional Japanese forms, so I'm glad my take on it managed to carry that across.

Thanks again!




No, it's not that you didn't succeed. You accomplished a lot, but, if you want to touch people, don't concentrate so much on rhyme and metre. Think more about what you want to say instead of how you're saying it.
— LCDR Geordi La Forge