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Country of a Cruel Soul

by Liminality

And welcome to the kneeling land, where sugar is a psalm

The truth will tear a wound in us, but curry is our balm

We all are for the freedoms here, there’s no need to be shy

We all are monotheists here, we’ll be free when we die.


Here you can speak, if fain to meet a ruler with your palm

Here you will peak, adrift the only sea for you with calm

We all are for the freedoms here, there’s no need to be shy.


And come this way – the distance mere – if you want to create

This other way for engineers, then doctors – don’t be late

We all are monotheists here, we’ll be free when we die.


Ignore those that would chastise you for jesting of a bomb

For tragedy should be naught but a season-long sitcom

We all are for the freedoms here, there’s no need to be shy. 


And seek not any virtue, not in friendship or a mate

Indulge in borrowed blues, the traits that come in a great spate

We all are monotheists here, we’ll be free when we die.


The social ill of soulish nil will grow like festered mange

For minds that never change themselves are those that can be changed

But we are for the freedoms here, there’s no need to be shy

We all are monotheists here, we’ll be freed when we die.

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172 Reviews

Points: 3069
Reviews: 172

Sat Aug 18, 2018 1:02 pm
fukase wrote a review...

Good name. Here I came from the reviewing request thread.

Okay, I don't know whether I can "actually" comment more on your poem as your previous reviewers had reviewed them thoroughly in their prospects. I don't want to repeat same things but if there are similarity then, it's coincident.

I will try to give your some here and there and overall, I won't be long. And I would be ranting, so forgive that.

I love the contrast in every line and how they swing together by the rhythm. Just hoping you don't force the rhymes so much, because well, it complicates things that are supposedly easy to do and your meaning would be a little bit insincere--well, in my eyes. And I love that you making the poem have a static syllables in that because like Shakespeare said why he loved writing sonnets too much, it is because he thought it was challenging to put so many meaning in such a strict format. By the note, I don't know the reason or who you are writing this poem to, so it will be purely based on my view and I don't mind the language because I am currently playing a video game of such and would love to learn them more.

Kneeling land sounds great and has a punch of "wow" for me in term of your introduction of this satire. Satire isn't my forte or my genre, but I had written some long ago and I still remembered it was quite nice to write it because of how to create that super twist in your poem and somehow the line with monotheists appealed to me that it is the twist here. I don't speak belief in greater length so let's stop it here.

And welcome to the kneeling land, where sugar is a psalm
The truth will tear a wound in us, but curry is our balm
We all are for the freedoms here, there’s no need to be shy
We all are monotheists here, we’ll be free when we die.

Maybe the repeated third and fourth line of above quote is to give a frank statement there, so you just bluntly wrote it that way which I agree here. But the third line has an array of meanings in it of what is freedoms that you mean, or how free really is to begin with. You might has mention them with the rest of your poem, but I don't see it. And to actually wrote a frank line (pointing to the third line) without a basis of detail into it for me it is not good to write as a poet as we rely on our words to convey our meaning, not on the readers' mind.
(see above: I was ranting, right?) I like the word sugar and curry here, but they don't really mean in depth (except for the symbolism value in them) and I would just pass by and wouldn't notice it.

Sorry, I couldn't really comment more on this as specific as I can, so as an overall, I want something concrete inside your poem in midst of the abstracts you created. Make a foundation in your poem so it won't be just an opinion, but the poem itself in its truest form. (I should stop ranting, bleh, I sounded weird.) Your title brought me some anticipation of the content in this poem, but a good title doesn't actually sum up the whole poem itself because in a perspective, it made my time wasteful, when the title contains everything in the poem, so why read the poem?

Oh god, I sucks in writing review of poem now. Well, I don't have time to focus on reviewing now and only come here once in a full moon.

Oh well, good luck, keep writing.


Liminality says...

Thank you so much for this review! I agree that the sugar and curry mostly have symbolic value. The reason why I chose them specifically was that they are consumed a lot in my own country, which is the sort of place I am describing here. Your advice on adding more concrete content to the poem really helps! Admittedly, I was constrained a little bit by choosing to write this sort of poem. I couldn't add enough stanzas to express exactly what I wanted, as I was afraid of straying TOO far from the villanelle structure. Now I'm considering finding a longer structure I could use since I tend to need more space to flesh out my ideas.

Thanks again!

fukase says...

You are welcomed.

Finding another format or longer structure might not be your answer. You just have to be more meaningful and trying to pick the right words and writing the right lines. Don't waste the space given with words you think yourself aren't necessary. Try to be sharp and smart. (LOL)

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1013 Reviews

Points: 120232
Reviews: 1013

Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:33 pm
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alliyah wrote a review...


I really enjoyed your take an a villanelle! It's one of my favorite types of poems, especially because they are so difficult to do well!

I know that myjaspercat said to take out the capitalization of the first word, and I'd like to clarify my opinion on that matter. Free-Verse poems don't need to have the first word capitalized for every line, however often it's standard for structured poems to have the first letter capitalized. Since your poem is somewhere between free-verse and structured, it's completely up to your discretion - although a capital letter will create a different effect/chopping up the thought, and a lower case letter might read a little more informally. @Aley has written an excellent little article on it if you're interested in reading more about that: Capitalization in Poetry.

I thought your punctuation was pretty good, though you were maybe missing a few places where a comma would be appreciated. And I think it's more standard for villanelle type poems to be aligned left to highlight the end words.

So to content!
The problem with political poems is it's really tricky to make people care or to create a personal connection with the content, especially if the general reader isn't familiar with the concerns expressed. I thought you did a fairly good job of bringing the reader into the poem though - especially with the refrain "we all are monotheists here, we'll be free(d) when we die" - that was poignant, and I think everyone will have a reaction to that.

I thought that some of the language veered a bit too formal, and might distance readers from the content even more, I think the words "jestered", "naught" and "spate" created distance from the subject rather than meaning. Though I liked where the poem became more conversational in a few places. And overall I thought the flow/meter was pretty good!

A few lines I thought were awkward,
"The social ill of soulish nil will grow like festered mange" <- that one is just really difficult to discern!
"Ignore those that would chastise you for jesting of a bomb" <- "Jesting of a bomb" didn't quite make sense to me.
"We all are for the freedoms here, there’s no need to be shy." <- "the freedoms" is a bit awkward phrasing. "for our freedoms" or "for all freedom" might sound more natural.

I struggled to discern the meaning in this poem a bit, which isn't a bad thing because I think there's a lot layered in here. I think this poem is partly satirical? And that it is a critique of people/government creating the illusion that life is all a balm and that we all have the same freedoms, when really we are more trapped than we think. The government/society promises these freedoms which we think we all have claim to, and yet they give very fixed/rigid options of what people are actually allowed to do.

The refrain about monotheists could be interpreted a few ways.
1) We believe the government is our god, and we won't be free of them until we die.
2) The governement/society functions as our god, and we believe that/are controlled until it kills us/ and in death (could be a symbollic/metaphorical death) we will be free of their expectations and rules.
3) We all believe in a "God" or maybe in a universal truth/pursuit of freedom - but we don't achieve either heaven or freedom until we are dead.

^all of these are incredibly intriguing, and honestly that was my favorite part of the poem just contemplating that. I liked the language of psalm and balm and freedoms in here too because it worked well with the religious connotations of that refrain, I think you could have worked in even more religious allusions though for some more depth.

I'd be interested in hearing more about your intention with the refrain and your intended meaning of the poem - because I think I understood some of the wide-scope of it, but there's a lot to unpack here.

Overall, I'm impressed with the depth of this poem. I unfortunately read (and write) a lot of poems that are just about lost-love or reflections on nature, and it was refreshing to read something like this. Where you tackled a serious topic but were able to keep it personal and even emotional.

I look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!


(let me know if you have any questions about my review!)

Liminality says...

Thank you very much for reviewing, and thanks also for the article you shared! Your third interpretation of the refrain is the one I was going for, but the other two are really interesting as well, and I honestly hadn't thought of them while writing this.

Overall, I was trying to describe and criticise a culture that has no real "soul", in relation to freedom of thought, individuality, compassion and even romantic love, and how lacking this soul makes the people easier to influence and control.
The lines about "sugar" and "curry" in relation to "balm" and "psalm" allude to how the culture in this country encourages ordinary people to ignore real problems. Instead, they distract themselves with religion and the more superficial "touristy" niceties of living in that country, for example, the food. "We all are for the freedoms here" followed by "We'll be free when we die" mock a society that gives lip service to individuality and freedom of speech but is, in practice, repressed.

Meanwhile, the lines about the "jesting of a bomb" discuss another "social ill". Where the poem refers to is a place where teachers sit by and allow teenagers to make jokes about terrorism, rape, murder, genocide and other horrible things - sometimes even joking along with them. Even the personal tragedies of classmates are free game. In this particular stanza "there's no need to be shy" is meant to be a bit ironic: they don't let you make legitimate criticisms, but joking about atrocities is A-okay. The people in power are almost redirecting the resentment towards them in this way, eroding any sense of compassion or solidarity among the youth.

Lastly, seeking "not any virtue" but rather for "borrowed blues" refers to how people in this society look for companions (especially spouses) based on superficial traits such as wealth, power, status, race and religion. I used "borrowed blues", because this mentality had been reinforced by parents for generations upon generations, trapping many people in networks of relationships that feel "soulless".

Thanks again for taking the time to read and analyse my poem - it really means a lot to me!

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265 Reviews

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Reviews: 265

Thu Aug 16, 2018 2:00 am
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myjaspercat wrote a review...

Hey there Liminality,
Myjaspercat here to leave you a review.

1) Style, Punctuation and Formatting

So, the first thing I want to point out here is the fact that you have the poem centered directly in the middle of the page. Now, while I understand that centering a poem is a stylistic choice made by the author, it makes the poem more of a turn off for most readers and makes it look rather clunky and immature. That said, if you are only centering a poem for the sake of "it looks pretty" then I would suggest ditching the center justification and having it left justified. However, if you have this poem center justified for a reason, such as meaning, then by all means keep it the way it is.

Second, I noticed that every single line started with a capital letter. The problem with this is that it can become jarring to the reader and it could disrupt the flow of the piece. Think about it this way, if you had the stanzas lined up as if they were in a paragraph, would you want to have random capitalized words in the middle of a sentence? You want to look at your poetry that way, only capitalize the lines that really need it. Now, as with the center justification, if capitalizing every single line is important to the integrity of the poem then please feel free to capitalize them, just be careful how much you do so.

Third, punctuation. Did you notice that you only put punctuation at the end of the last line of every stanza? Is this to tell the readers that every single stanza is a sentence? If that last question is true, then I think you need to work on the structure of this poem just a little bit longer. The reason why I'm saying this is because without something at the ends of your lines (or at least a few of them throughout the poem rather then just the ones at the end of the stanzas) the piece becomes muddy and it makes it a lot harder to fully take in the poem without really knowing where to stop and pause. You need a couple more full stops so your reader can really stop and "smell the roses" of the poem.

For example, let's look at the last stanza of this poem.

The social ill of soulish nil will grow like festered mange
For minds that never change themselves are those that can be changed Here I would add a full stop at the end of this line or at least some form of pause. The second line really solidifies the idea of the first and I personally feel like it would best be read with this form of pause in it.
But we are for the freedoms here, Here however, I would rather there not be a pause, this line really feels like it would be best a little bit faster and the more punctuation you have in the middle of a line, the slower it's going to be read. there’s no need to be shy
We all are monotheists here, we’ll be freed when we die.

To kind of sum it all up in a little simpler way, take some time and read this poem out loud. Pause where you have the punctuation as is, and really think about it. Ask yourself if that's exactly where you feel like the pauses are really needed or where pauses could be needed.

Finally, for this section, I wanted to do a brief touch up on the line spacing. Basically, one of the tell tale signs that a writer is new to the craft is unnecessary double-spacing of free verse or rhyming poems. Many double-spaced poems can easily become single-spaced poems without doing significant damage. Now I'm not saying that you're new to the craft, but it really makes the poem look clunky and immature in a sense with the double lines.

--> If you have these lines with the extra space just because you didn't know how to enter a new line without it then I can help you with that. To start a new line without the space, just hit 'shift+enter' instead of just enter.

Quick note over, let's get on with the rest of the review why don't we.

2)Ideas, Detail and Nit-picks

And come this way – the distance mere – if you want to create
This other way for engineers, then doctors – don’t be late
Two things here. First of all I didn't really understand what you were trying to do here. It just got lost on me. Second, I don't particularly like the en dashes, which I'm also pretty sure you meant them to be em dashes but that's a whole other thing. I don't like them because to me they seem out of place and off.

Indulge in borrowed blues, the traits that come in a great spate
The underlined word doesn't read right to me. I would suggest maybe finding something that fits it better.

For minds that never change themselves are those that can be changed
I don't know what it is about this line, but I really like it. It strikes me as different and just, well more. So I applaud you here. Good job.

One thing I didn't like at all is the repetition of the ending line. It really threw off the grove of the piece and kind of tripped me while I was running so to speak.

3)Overall opinions

Generally, you have a good piece here, or at least I think so. There are a few small things that are clumping it up but those can be easily resolved and tweaked and fixed so don't worry too much about them.

I don't really have much else to say so if you have any questions or comments on the review please feel free to leave them and I will answer any questions to the best of my ability. Good luck and continue writing.

Liminality says...

Many thanks for the review! I found it very helpful.

The reason why the ending line was repeated in this way was that I was at first trying to (partially) mimic the structure of a villanelle. I realise the rhyming scheme I used is different and I added one extra line to the first and last stanzas, but that was the initial idea. With regards to the line about engineers and doctors, I was trying to express how the society in that nation imposes dogmatic 'fixed' ideas about career and life onto young people. I had a hard time trying to say that while keeping to the meter, which is probably why it came out so awkward. Whoops.

Your advice on formatting and punctuation is really helpful to me. In fact, I previously thought it was compulsory to capitalise the first letter of each line for this type of poem! I think I understand what I need to work on now. Thanks again!

myjaspercat says...

Of course, I'm glad to help. Thank you for clarifying that line about the engineers and doctors, it really helps me understand it a tad bit better. Good luck with your writing.

Liminality says...

Thanks, and you too!

It is better to take what does not belong to you than to let it lie around neglected.
— Mark Twain