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bird watching

by alliyah

Author's Note: Link for audio here: bird watching, rewrite of dream-talk poem from earlier this year.

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806 Reviews

Points: 1883
Reviews: 806

Sun May 31, 2020 4:54 am
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Aley wrote a review...

I'm going to write you a review for the sake of review day based on the audio link and doing reviews on lyrics as poems for my blog so I've read a lot of lyrics lately. This won't be review sandwich, just what I'm seeing for how you can tighten this up and make it better.

Cut the second stanza, it's clunky, metaphorical, and doesn't matter in the scheme of the poem.
Change the phrase "I don't care" to something else because it's clear the singer does since they're asking their "dear" for permission in the start.
Talking about bones could be better if you switch it away from fingerprints. It isn't really the bridge of the song, that's when you've got your "I don't care; I'm going to do it anyway" verses, and your chorus is this whole "not-so-sunset" thing, so this doesn't reaaaaly fit so well. You could change it to something about how birds have hollow bones instead. "I learned a long time ago that my bones are hollow" and I don't see what drowning has to do with birds or flying away from boredom. Perhaps change or chop that.
"So for now are we content" stanza should go back to the "not-so-sunset" stanzas rather than trying to make a new chorus. The other option is to take out the "Not-so-sunset" stanza and replace it with one of these "So for now are we contented" stanzas. That may actually be better in here.
"One Day I promise you" stanza doesn't really make sense. I can get behind the first four lines, but the last two don't really fit. I'd suggest chopping them. They don't add much to the poem when you're doing a 180 from water to fire.
The last stanza there should be repeated twice. The second "Let me be an ocean dear" stanza, should be repeated twice at the end. Definitely. Yes yes. I think so. *nodding.*

Okay, so my conclusion about what you should do with this to make it more cohesive and more of a song: Add the "So for now, are we content" stanza above the first "not quite sunset" stanza. This is going to give you a longer chorus that will lead into the song nicer.

I still think the second stanza needs to have some heavy reworking or getting rid of it. My reason for that is because we don't talk about drowning nearly enough in this song for it to be the point. A song should have a very short, small, concrete point that is usually just a line or two. They usually don't have any more unique lyrics than two stanzas, total, so this poem's idea is becoming a bird to fly away. That's great. You have all the information here but you have information about burning up, and drowning too, which needs to go. Taking out the other modes of death are important to keep the whimsical aspects of the song.

Well, okay, so let me say this. The more I look at this poem, the more confusing the actual message becomes. "Let me be an ocean" is clearly saying that the individual who's speaking, the speaker, is going to become a body of water, but "I'm on fire" "I might fly" or "I'll leave all these feathers behind" are talking about the speaker becoming a bird. What? Also "Would you watch me become a not-quite-sunset for the sky" sounds more like an ocean thing than a bird thing. An ocean can look like the sunset because the sunset reflects across the waves. A bird can fly into the sunset and become a speck on the horizon.

So, the song as it is right now is great, I love the tonality in it, I think it needs a lot more pop. I think you need to move the "I don't care" stanza down into the poem's end to really punch those lines and I think you need to sing while you're alone so you can throw some emotion into your voice ^.-. The ending needs to be repeated twice because the last stanza is a beautiful lead out of the song, but it may need some tweaking. You could even just repeat the last two lines three times.

There's a lot of jumble in this which needs clarifying or moving too, like talking about painting. That line may work better if you cut it to "no use painting with feathers here". Also, bumping that up to "I don't care: In fact I'll jump because I will fly" would make both statements pop much harder and you can go up-tempo there to really raise the momentum of the song, then lower it again dramatically in the "Let me be an ocean dear" stanza (that should be repeated).

Okay, I've tried to sing "Don't need to be a wave wrapped around you" like twelve times and I naturally want to add "that's" so it flows better.

Also if you're keeping the second stanza, consider changing it to "dreamy" to give yourself an extra syllable to play with, easier on the tongue. The reason I don't like that stanza is because of the last two lines. There's no survival going on that needs to be pontificated about to bring it up. I mean, what are they doing? They're bird watching! Why in the world would survival come into play? Now if you were talking about a ship on fire, or going under, or something catastrophic, I get it, but that and the couplet about drowning really seem to come out of left field with the subject.

Another confusing detail is how are these birds landlocked when they're always talking about oceans? I could see if you changed all of the land-trapped birds to actual names of birds that don't venture over the oceans, like finches, or robins, or sparrows. Clearly they wouldn't fit because that's not a bird you see in the ocean area. You see seagulls, and pelicans, and big sea birds.

Anyway, I'm just chatting because it's review day and I know you well and you know me well so if you want to talk about any of this, by all means let me know, I'd love to. I do really like the poem and I like your song and singing.

See you around,

alliyah says...

Ah these are some very good points Aley! Thank you so much. I definitely get what you're saying about the poem feeling a little scattered and needing a more concrete & clear "chorus" to anchor the song. I'm going to ditch the line about fire and painting with feathers as I can definitely see how those thematically are a bit separate from the other images I have going on. Though I am very attached to the stanzas/verses, so will have to figure out how to chop those up. Definitely agree that the singing should be a lot more expressive too; this came out fairly quiet, and I was too distracted trying not to fudge the words or the keys - but I might try to re-do it one of these days when I'm feeling brave. :) Thank you again for all your thoughts! I very much appreciate them. <3

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80 Reviews

Points: 33
Reviews: 80

Mon May 25, 2020 6:52 pm
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Em16 wrote a review...

Specific Comments:
Stanza 2, Line 4: I love the way you say “these broken bodies are only vessels”. I don’t exactly know why that line is so good, but it just touched my soul. I think it’s because it’s true. We’re something more than our bodies.
Stanza 3, Line 2: I love the idea of “a not-quite-sunset for the sky”. There’s so much vulnerability in that line. You won’t be a sunset, so are you allowed to try to be something that’s beautiful but not as beautiful as a sunset?
Stanza 4: I love this. The progression of the speaker’s thoughts is beautiful. You can see them stop caring about what holds them back. When you say “I’ll leave all these feathers behind”, it makes me think the speaker is leaving all the advantages of their earthly body behind. They are relying solely on their own will and spirit.
Stanza 6, Lines 1 and 2: I love these lines. They’re so achingly poignant. Things will never be perfect, and that’s the way it is, so we have to deal with it.
Stanza 7: I love the idea of a promise. It’s a hint of hope in the middle of a poem that is somewhat sad. It’s exactly what is needed.
Stanza 10: I like this line, but it doesn’t seem to fit, at least to me. Most of the poem is about the sky, and birds, and the background is an ocean. To me, fire seems a little out of place among those images.
Stanza 12, Line 4: I love the idea of going “my own way”. It seems the fitting conclusion to the ideas in this poem. Even if the world is imperfect, we can still find our own selves and a bit of the world we like.

General Comments:
Great job! I really, really loved this poem. It was amazing. You captured the human condition and experience in words that are both meaningful and significant, while at the same time being quite beautiful. You had a lot of unique phrases and beautiful imagery. I also loved the way the speaker’s thoughts change and evolve as the poem goes on. It’s not stagnant. Overall, this was just a gorgeous poem. Even the background and the font were beautiful. I look forward to reading more of your writing!

alliyah says...

Thanks for this thoughtful review!! I appreciate it. :)

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132 Reviews

Points: 9315
Reviews: 132

Mon May 18, 2020 12:27 pm
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Liminality says...

Love so much of the imagery and language here! My favourite line --> "Survival's an art when// these broken bodies are only vessels" The sort-of implicit comparison to ships fits in so well with the water motif. And of course, the repeated lines (refrains?) are great. I listened to the audio as well, and I love how you're putting more melody into the words. <3

alliyah says...

Thank you for this really sweet comment @Liminality! I'm glad you caught the comparison from bodies to ships with the vessel reference. When I studied Greek - > we read through a lot of ancient Greek poetry; and some of their ideas about identity and body I found very striking compared to modern perceptions. The one that always sticks with me is that for ancient Greeks it was pretty usual to say that Grief & Passion were something burning in a person's bone marrow. I really don't like the idea of mind-body dualism or when the body is treated as expendable; & I think the idea that bodies are just ships or vessels for a soul is pretty haunting. And on the boat note, I might have been going for some Ship of Theseus vibes even. I think my intent with the poem is to express something about bodily/destiny/soul/self ownership in midst of perceived expendability. Thanks again reading & listening & for your kind comment! <3

Liminality says...

Oh wow, that's a really interesting concept. Now I read the piece over again, I can see the allusions to ancient Greek thinking more clearly. Hmm there's something poetic in how the Ship of Theseus has all of its parts replaced. I remember reading about it the first time in an introductory Philosophy book and thinking "Well maybe the only thing it needs to be considered 'the Ship of Theseus' is that people continue to refer to it and treat it as the 'Ship of Theseus'". I really like that thought experiment, and it's so interesting to see how you've incorporated it into this piece. :)

This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much all of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.
— Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy