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A Word With Lake Dal

by Arcticus

For ages the sky gazed at your mirrors.
You, who would offer lotuses on your banks.
You, who witnessed how the slave
rowed the shikara for the henchmen.
My feet are still cold
from the walk on your frozen,
chillai-kalaan surface.
You're just like your desolate country,
choking on different kinds
of weeds.

In a way, still a mirror.

*Notes :
Shikara: A type of wooden boat found on the Dal Lake. See:

Chillai-Kalaan: Name given to the coldest forty days of winter in Kashmir.

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662 Reviews

Points: 52441
Reviews: 662

Sun Feb 24, 2013 10:54 pm
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dogs wrote a review...

Hello there Shoaib! Dogs here with your review. To start, I really liked this poem. It has some nice imagery and you did an excellent job of using simple imagery and wording to create a masterpiece. Certainly the best part of this poem is how you bring it full circle with the ending about the mirror. Way to bring in that subtle imagery there. I only have some few tiny extremely nit picky notes that don't necessarily have to be applied but I think it might make your poem a little better. Let's dive in now shall we?

"My feet are still cold"

I think that "cold" is a bit of a boring word in this sentence, and can certainly be edited out for a stronger word. Maybe "gelid" or "frosty" or "frigid." Whatever works for you, but "cold" is an opportunity to use a stronger descriptive word.

"You're just like your desolate country,"

The only one tiny thing that bugs me here is that: you use "You're" and "Your" in the same line a little too close in proximity to one another. Try editing one of them out.

Apart from that, I really don't have anything to say. Elegantly written to say the least, excellent use of simple writing skills. I enjoyed reading this piece, let me know if you ever need a review. Keep up the good work!

TuckEr EllsworTh :smt032

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178 Reviews

Points: 852
Reviews: 178

Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:56 pm
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Paracosm wrote a review...

Hey Shoaib!

I liked your poem, it's very interesting subject matter. You provide a beautiful description of the lake. One suggestion I can give over the description it to use more sensory details. Tell us more about the beautiful color or fragrance of the lotus flowers.

I loved the last two lines. They provide a meaningful and vivid depth to the poem. Overall, this poem is awesome! I suggest you provide more sensory detail in your description. Keep up the good work, Shaoib. Sorry this review is so short, but I hope it was still helpful.

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1313 Reviews

Points: 23286
Reviews: 1313

Tue Feb 19, 2013 1:24 pm
Hannah wrote a review...

This is lovely. Even without the notes, I think you can communicate the feeling in this poem well (mostly owing to the fact that we can get the general meaning of shikara from context and the convenient fact that chillai evokes the English word chilly and cool, and even if the true meaning is fifty times more awesome, specific, and tone-evoking, it still works).

So. You use frighteningly specific, strong, concrete words and you move well through the poem. You go from nature to people and then pan out to an encompassing view of both. Awesome. I am with you.

There are a couple of things I don't like in this poem, however. Just a couple.
The first is the user of the word henchmen. From the Wikipedia article:

It is now used to generally describe any person with subordinate status derisively, while most often used specifically to a hired guard or minion of a villain or master criminal.

It may have meant something before, but if you use it in this modern time, all your reader can think of is the bumbling duo that usually accompanies a comic villain. You might remember the two devil dudes that accompanied Hades in the disney movie? Or the couple 'o nephews that help out their uncle... that one guy that is the villain to Mickey Mouse? Or, you know, general cartoon villains you might know of. That words sticks out and ruins the tone, so I'd choose another.

The last thing I have a problem with is the last line. I'd love the poem if it ended with "of weeds". I love the way it sinks slowly down into the choking, the suffocation. But, I totally understand if that's not the way you wanted your poem to end, so you tried to raise it back up to the idea of mirroring the sky, the light, nature-based opening that you had. The problem is you've done it so half-heartedly and weakly that it just takes away from your poem. You go on this journey of different views and dismiss them all with something like, "But yeah, still a mirror". Don't dismiss your own hard work! Find another way, something loosely tied to the weeds to let us float leisurely up from the bottom of the lake when the weeds release us. Something like that.

PM me if you have any questions.

Good luck and keep writing!

Arcticus says...

Thanks, Hannah. Made a few notes ;)

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
— W. Somerset Maugham