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The Mountain (9)

by IMK


Prompt:

At evening, something behind me.
I start for a second, I blench,
or staggeringly halt and burn.
I do not know my own age.

In the morning it is different.
An open book confronts me,
too close to read in comfort.
Tell me how old I am.

---------------------------------------------------------

At evening, something behind me.
I start for a second, I blench,
or staggeringly halt and burn.
I do not know my own age.

In the morning it is different.
An open book confronts me,
too close to read in comfort.
Tell me how old I am.

Are you a phone book?
A catalogue?
Whatever you might be,
You must know, right?

I do not know what it is
But something tells me you do.
Whether it be my age in days,
Or in years and months.

My knowledge is extensive,
But not to that extent.
This room is full of books
And yet it seems as if it knows nothing.

A room of wisdom,
Spirals of shelves of paper.
Bound in covers,
Layered in levels.

Millions of characters stacked
One on top of the other.
Hundreds of thousands of words,
Lined up in lines.

Arranged to form thousands of sentences,
Hundreds of pages,
Tens of chapters,
Making a book.

And how many books are in this library of mine?
A mountain, surely.
So tell me, mountain of books,
Tell me how old I am.


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Random avatar

Points: 275
Reviews: 6

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Tue Sep 21, 2021 2:47 am
snorfus wrote a review...



Hey there, here for a review!

I liked this poem and the way it made me feel! You really do a good job capturing the setting without directly explaining it, using lots of feeling words that relate to the character rather than objective words to relate to the setting. The library seems beautiful and it made me wanna read books ! I am a big fan of the juxtaposition you introduce between objective/relative knowledge (knowing things about the world but not about yourself). its consistent with the theme and the stanzas all blend really well.

At first i was confused by your word choice in the beginning before i read the intro of you explaining the prompts and whatnot. I supposed you cant change the beginning lines... It was a little confusing to me and i wouldve loved an explanation of what was behind the character but you seemed to only run with the line of forgetting my own age. Interestingly enough i was gonna suggest that you change the beginning, since i didnt feel hooked or intrigued to read more until the second stanze or end of the first one... And because it didnt very well hold up with the tone you were illustrating with the rest of the poem, or with the quality of word choice. Since it was from a different poem altogether it makes more sense but still... You should take that as a compliment :) and i also appreciate your dedication to the name of the poem, including that theme in your poem even though its only the prompt was a wise move, i wouldve been confused if there was no mention of a mountain incorporated in it.

At first the poem gave me the impression of amnesia before rereading but i am more leaning towards a hermit whos been locked away for so long... That was a nice surprise for me, since amnesia poems are pretty common and hard to make stand out from the rest.
Some words that felt a little static and bland were holding back some otherwise fantastic sequences, and your poem could possibly do better without them or with a substitute word. And of course these are just my personal preferences, please take it with a grain of salt and dont change anything that adds value to your poem! But let me list the ones i noticed

Right? could be please

"That" in "that extent" could be "such" or "such an"

"And yet it seems as if it knows nothing" can be condensed. You can lose the yet, or replace if with though to get rid of the repitition if you dont like it, or replace "as if" with "that" or "like". Definitely some room to mess around with the structure here.

(The stanze after that sentence is flawless, dont change it. I like the word spirals here alot alot..!)

Organized... I cant tell you why i didnt like it. I think its just too common a word to fit maybe? You could try "aligned" or "arranged"

Tens i think should be dozens

Making is a lil weak ..could be expanded.. Composing or concieving or a million other synonyms?

For sure felt a bit casual and messes with the timeless tone you have going. an easy fix is "surely".



Again, im a little picky with word choice so take what you will and keep it how u like it! This is an awesome poem and i like your style ! Please keep writing and if i see mountain 10 i will definitely be clicking on it!




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200 Reviews


Points: 8185
Reviews: 200

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Tue Sep 21, 2021 12:55 am
Liminality wrote a review...



Hi there IMK!

On my first read, this seemed to me a very mysterious poem. The speaker states they don’t know their own age, which is curious, and asks many questions to a book. The speaker speaks with a lot of vagueness, and outside of setting the scene there are very few specific concrete details the reader can grasp onto.

Subject and Narrative

The narrative of this poem seems to be that one day, the speaker realises all of a sudden that they do not know their own age. They seem to wait for the next morning to collect their thoughts on this shocking realisation, and then they try to pry to answer from a book. However, they seem to rely on the book to tell them what kind of book it is. (Which leaves the reader wondering how they plan to find out their age from a book of unknown type.) Then the speaker reveals that their room is “full of books” and yet they still can’t seem to find out their age, as seen by the repetition of “Tell me how old I am” at the end.

In terms of themes, the poem seems to be about knowledge, reading and time/age. One interpretation I had of this could be that the speaker’s “age” actually refers to their wisdom or knowledge. So in the beginning, what they realise is that they don’t know how much they know, which is why they turn to the source of their knowledge, their books. Even though they have many books, sometimes it ‘feels’ they know nothing, but the poem emphasises all of the words, sentences and characters in each book, and with the metaphor of the “mountain” it is resolved in the end that the speaker is as wise as a mountain of knowledge would make them.

Sound and Structure

The poem as a whole has a somewhat regular rhythm that is disrupted or varied upon in some parts to create effects. There’s no rhyme, from what I can tell, but I thought the existing rhythm was strong enough to make the piece pleasant to read aloud. It doesn’t seem to be broken up into feet or a particular meter, so I’d say it’s thoroughly a free verse rhythm.

At evening, something behind me.
I start for a second, I blench,
. . .
A mountain, for sure.
So tell me, mountain of books,

I like that the two lines with caesurae is a repeated structure at the beginning and end of the poem. I thought the pause in the middle created a sense of suddenness at the beginning, suggesting the speaker’s uncertainty and perhaps anxiety over what they do or do not know. Meanwhile, the final use seems to convey the opposite emotion, with the phrase “for sure” and “So tell me”, an imperative, wherein the speaker feels more confident to say their knowledge/wisdom equates to a “mountain” of books.

Whatever you might be,
You must know, right?
I do not know what it is
But something tells me you do.

Unlike the first stanza, the rhythm here seems even more conversational, with the question-and-answer form and the use of a colloquial phrase “something tells me”. So I thought this gave the sense that the speaker had entered into conversation with the book, addressed with “you” as opposed to the monologue they were having in the first stanza.

Organised to form thousands of sentences,
Hundreds of pages,
Tens of chapters,
Making a book.

In stanzas like these, where each line becomes grammatically simpler ( for instance, “Tens of chapters” is something of a quantified noun phrase, it just states a particular group of objects, whereas a line like “My knowledge is extensive” has a subject, a verb (‘is’) and an adjective in declarative form), the poem almost seems to be dwindling away. I wonder if this mirrors the “spirals of shelves”, or if it’s meant to create anticipation for the climax that the speaker – does – know a lot after all?

Overall
This was a fun and interesting poem to dissect. I wonder what the “something behind me” will turn out to be when you read the original prompt poem? This poem also made me think about how humans deal with their knowledge, and how it never seems to be enough (people can be pretty greedy, huh? <.<).

Feel free to ask me anything about this review or ask for more feedback.
Keep writing!
-Lim
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