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saint euthalia

by CaptainJack

"executed Roman women - third century - martyrs - virgins"

all of the saints. all of the ghosts of those who once lived and
died for the crown they tried so much to serve. their forms
that hang so holy in the hallways and threaten the existence
for the rest of us who remain upon the earth.

saint euthalia, born of the lady saint eutropia, both ladies led
by the miracle of god presented before them.  young euthalia
so willing to stand in the way of being called a sinner and lay
her neck below the sword of fate.

glimpse memories of barely recognizable saints, small altars
hanging about a lonesome room and a rebel looking for escape
from the very thoughts.  those very thoughts keeping them alive.

the period called ante-nicene, running memories from the very
first of the centuries to twenty five years past the third century's
prime.  such a short expanse to cover sixty saints of the femme
side and the history contained for so many as martyrs.

names taken from greece, from rome and from the old elder
places.  why are these not the names said when oil is placed
on the forehead of any child of god?  why are so many named in
the honor, praise, and protection of mary?  there may be the
mother of god but there are other women about the church.

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952 Reviews

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Sun Apr 28, 2019 11:55 pm
alliyah wrote a review...

Hey Jack,

I should probably participate in Review Day someway right? And I'm always a fan of your religious poetry, so let's take a look! I'll just go stanza to stanza today. As always, let me know if I missed something you wanted some comments on and I'll take a second look.

The opening of the "executed Roman women - third century - martyrs - virgins" is a good entry into the piece - it's striking because martyrdom is really weird because you're dying not to be recognized yourself but to recognize Christ, but still the anonymity of it, is uncomfortable because what's written reads almost like a gravestone or newspaper article - it's saying important things, but there's no name, no person to attach it to. The anonymity of martyrdom is especially uncomfortable with women saints because they are so often overlooked or just looked at as "women saints" / "women martyrs" rather than just saints, just martyrs, just people - so they have to tackle this extra layer of anonymity.

I wish there was a bit more of saint euthalia's story - even if dramatized a bit to help make it personally connect in stanza two - even like going for some of her internal thoughts or an guess at what she might have been praying would be an interesting way to personalize the story.

I like 'glimpse memories' -- it's an interesting way to phrase it that's really fitting. I like stanza three, because it evokes memories for me of walking around in a Greek Orthodox church (as a Protestant who has very little saint knowledge) and looking at all these intricate icons and feeling like I didn't know these people, but that I should, and wondering who really knew their story. I think you could put a bit more imagery in there to evoke memories maybe - what do the saints look like, what is the rebel rebelling about, and why look for at saints?

4th stanza I agree with the reviewers above - nice Nicene reference in there to get the time line in. I notice the repetition of the word memories in line 1 - intentional?
I'm not completely sure what stanza 4 is getting at - stanza 5 says a lot - but stanza 4 feels like it's saying, "remember that time by the Nicene council? There were a lot of martyrs, and you can't imagine how many were femme. But we only remember history selectively." At least that's what I think you're getting at? There might be a more direct way speak in stanza 4 to get there though.

Stanza 5 - Intriguing, so I'm missing something here from being a non-catholic, are you talking about the names given when people are baptized / confirmed? At first I read it as the speaker saying, "why do we use male pronouns for God (persons of trinity) when we baptize children when there were plenty of martyrs who were women - why is the female role relegated to just being a mother but not a god?" Okay that's very intriguing - and could even be uncomfortable for people who like to stick to male pronouns for god, but I'm following it and I think it's really interesting. (side note: "She Who Is" is a really interesting book that I recommend for people who are interested in using non-masc pronouns for God)

My second reading, is maybe you're talking about like baptismal names and maybe this is a critique that why do boys get all the options of a whole host of names and then for girls they just have Mary as an option, when there are a lot more out there that we aren't talking about.
^This is a much less dramatic reading, and I think I would have gotten to sooner if I was Catholic or in a church where we did baptismal naming. And I get how you get there with the martyr deal at the beginning, but I almost wish it came back to saint euthalia's name at the end - because it's that naming issue that's so prominent in the poem.

I liked the flow of the piece - and the format of 5/4/3/4/5 - you had some interesting line breaks, but I think they worked for keeping stuff even, though some of the phrasings got chopped that way.

I liked this overall! My main feedback is maybe more imagery in second half, and more directness in the last two stanzas.

- alliyah

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Thu Apr 25, 2019 12:01 pm
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JabberHut wrote a review...


I really love what you have here. There are so many good ideas, and it was pieces of a puzzle finally set together all at once in the last stanza. It was actually a fun trip through the poem after reading the last stanza. I had to read it again to make sense of it, and I love that feeling being enlightened by the end of my first read and rereading it to understand the bits that went over my head. It's just fun for me like solving a riddle, though that's an atrocious example 'cause I'm just awful at riddles.


I like how you started this. Choice words and phrases that immediately give insight to the speaker's perspective on the topic. All of these saints seeming to be the same, labeled the same way, not one really better than the other 'cause they all suffered or lived the same way under the same conditions. Then setting up this church atmosphere for the narrative is just so detailed and expressive. Excellent word choice here that helped set up the mood.

I'm unfamiliar with the saints, so I had to look up Saint Euthalia to get an understanding of who she was. Before I looked her up though and read the stanza in my first couple read-throughs, you did so well in describing their lives in just a few lines. Both mother and daughter, they were clearly admired for their dedication to the Christian faith. Now having read a brief bio, I understand what the "miracle of god" actually refers to, what the "sword of fate" is actually referring to. I think you just did a superb job describing the memories of this saint people admire or are in awe of when they see her face in the hallway of the saints.

I like how the third stanza returns to the hallway and the narrative contemplating the memories. We again get a glimpse of the speaker's perspective, how uneasy they are remembering these histories and wanting to run away from thinking about the very memories that saved them and/or the Christian faith.

The fourth stanza is where I kinda get fuzzy. I like the clever use of the word Nicene here as the Nicene Creed was written soooomewhere around this time? It's one of the many age-old traditions of the Christian church, and since the poem is in this time frame of the early few centuries, it is just clever usage--oh shoot okay, so I just googled the Nicene Creed, established in 325. Is that being referenced here? (Also is that 25 yrs past the 4th century's prime? I'm confusing myself probably.) CLEVER.

So my confusion, however, lies with hooow, I don't know, tangenty this feels. I see how the stanza is trying to bring to the light how such a short expanse of time can cover so many lives of female saints, but it kinda gets more into the timeline of the church itself as opposed to staying with the subject of honoring those very female saints. In fact, as clever as the Nicene Creed lines were, they might just be out of place for this poem specifically, which kinda hurts my soul 'cause I really just love what you did there. Food for thought, I guess. This stanza just kinda disrupts the flow of the poem's message, I think.

Now the final stanza that brought it all together for me. It made sense of just about everything that went through here, it solved the puzzle for me in a few lines, it gave me a destination. It's also back to the reflective narrative in the hallway honoring the very saints we're looking at. I can picture it the whole time, it just flows very well.

I'm a huge fan of this piece and the little easter eggs you threw in here. It's cleverly written, and I hope you can buff out the kinks here, namely that fourth stanza, though it could also just be me. So many good things going on here. I enjoyed the read, and hopefully my excited perception from reading this is somewhat helpful and not confusing.

Keep writing!

Jabber, the One and Only!

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Sun Apr 21, 2019 12:07 am
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niteowl wrote a review...

Hi there LordWolf! Niteowl here to review this poem.

Overall, I like the individual stanzas, but I feel like they aren't connected very well, which in turn left me a little confused about the overall point until I got to the last stanza. I'll just go through these stanza by stanza.

The first line is an interesting start, like it's categories on wikipedia. It didn't really fit the poem until the very end, but it works.

The first stanza is solid. It sets the religious tone and the style where all of the sentences are actually fragments. One quibble is I'm not sure if "threaten" is the right word. It's more like maybe they're overseeing us, maybe admonishing us for not being holy enough? Maybe "convicting" us, to use a popular church-y term? Though maybe that's not Catholic...I only remember hearing it in evangelical circles.

The second stanza doesn't connect as well to the first, but I like it on its own. It's sort of tell-y and not terribly detailed, but it feels like it would fit well muttered in a prayer like the Nicene Creed.

The third stanza isn't bad, but also doesn't feel connected to the rest of the poem. It sticks out to me because it introduces this "rebel" character, but there's nothing else mentioned about them in any of the other stanzas, so it feels very out of left field.

The fourth stanza is pretty clunky. I wish I could offer some helpful suggestion on making it smoother, but I don't have any right now.

The fifth stanza is by far the strongest, and it's also where we get to your actual point (I think). It seems like you're saying the church only focuses on Mary, and mostly because of her relation to a male god, when in fact there are other interesting women in the early church, like the aforementioned St. Euthalia. This is a compelling subject, but I don't feel like the poem as a whole supports the message.

What might be a better way to structure this might be to have your last two sentences be your first lines, or maybe beginning the second stanza after the first stanza about all the saints. Then you could state the stories of several of these female saints kind of like what you did with Euthalia. It might also be interesting to contrast with any more-widely-known male saints from this period (since I'm not sure if the big names from the New Testament count, I don't know who else is famous from this time period). Then you could close with the first two sentences from the last stanza.

Overall, there's a lot of interesting thoughts here, but I feel like they could be put together better. As always, keep writing! :D

Treat all disasters as if they were trivialities but never treat a triviality as if it were a disaster.
— Quentin Crisp