Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Poetry » Lyrical

E - Everyone

Inside and Out: A Self-Portrait

by lelu


You made this thing for me, after I read Whitman and soaked up a bit of his style, so let me unsoak it, for someday I want to grow my own.

This thing is a picture, a view through my glasses, which you gave me yesterday and got me used to by now.

My curtain, warm pink with some white, is almost all drawn over the bedroom window,

The lamplight on it inside, and outside the wide waking evening.

I know dawn and sunset (plain daylight is usually boring),

But I have met the time that is insufficiently called twilight, and I find it harder to know.

(I find poetry harder to know. Did Whitman write this easily, or did he have to revise, and hate it, like myself?)

As I said, twilight is strange and different from any other time, yet more familiar to me than the day,

Night is dark and meant for sleeping, but twilight is different, open, moving, waking, beginning to breathe as the light turns from gold to blue and grey and green and none of these, not distracting the eyes with unnecessary color, and always with more to know.

The wind moves all, not fast, not slow, but exactly enough, between the fast breath of the day and the slow of the night.

The birds call, saying, "Come out; there are things to be done," as they go to sleep and leave the world to the nocturnals.

I envy not the nocturnal ones, for they can keep their night,

But let me go out in the twilight, which isn't a good enough name,

And let me have something to do or somewhere to go, for if I wandered aimlessly I would be lost.

Now I move to the inside, where goldish lamplight lights the inside of the curtain,

Not quite gold, not quite warm, but all is still and comfortable,

Easier to know than the cool evening, but just as good.

Now you know of both these things, and now you see them together,

The lamplit curtain with the blue-grey-green evening outside, both made to be together.

I said "You" in the beginning, meaning God, but then I meant you, the reader,

And I tell you He gave me glasses and Whitman and made this perfect thing for myself and I alone to see.

You cannot see it, as I cannot describe it, but I may make you see something,

And, if nothing else, I will remember this thing,

And that I myself am like it, the great cool evening outside and the still warm bedroom within.


Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.







Is this a review?


  

Comments



User avatar
793 Reviews


Points: 26351
Reviews: 793

Donate
Sun May 12, 2019 5:24 am
Morrigan wrote a review...



Hello lelu,

I stopped by because I noticed that this didn't have any reviews even though you posted it yesterday. I know why-- this is daunting.

I perused a bit of your other work, and I can definitely see that you're one of them prosey-folk. It's nice to see you prosey-folk venturing into the poetry section!

This is really more of a prose poem than anything, which is particular and difficult to review as a form. Prose and poetry seem like two sides of a coin, so it can be intimidating when someone sees both of these coexisting. If a prose poem is what you're going for, that's great! If you were going for something more traditional, I'd consider reworking much of the poem.

Even as a prose poem, this piece tends to be on the wordy side. Since you're referencing Whitman, I'm thinking you're trying to emulate his style. While he does have a way with words that makes it seem like he's rambling, he's really not. Every word has a purpose. He's a master of using words that affect the pace.

In your piece, not every word has a purpose, and must be explained for the poem to progress. Take a look at your first and second line. "This" in the first line must be followed by

This thing is a picture, a view through my glasses, which you gave me yesterday and got me used to by now.

With a little editing, you wouldn't have to backtrack like this. Instead of backtracking, try saying something like, "You gave me vision" or "you gave me a frame, within which I read Whitman." There's really nothing that really moves the poem along in "which you gave me yesterday and got me used to by now."

The imagery that you use is really lovely, and serves as a nice anchor for the poem. I honestly would like to see you start the poem with imagery-- it would be a stronger start than what you have right now. Even if we plunge into the imagery while acknowledging that there's an Other in this poem. You could incorporate it into this line:
My curtain, warm pink with some white, is almost all drawn over the bedroom window,

If I were you, I'd say something like
You draw my warm pink curtain across the bedroom window with a breeze

That also hints that the "you" you're talking about is supernatural, as later in the poem you reveal the primary "you" as god. Foreshadowing!

I know dawn and sunset (plain daylight is usually boring),
Don't tell us the daylight is boring. What's boring about it? Is it the monotonous beat of sunlight on the skin? Is it the predictable blue expanse? Give us imagery that shows us why the narrator thinks daylight is boring.

But I have met the time that is insufficiently called twilight,
This line straight up confuses me. Why is the word twilight insufficient? If you take out "insufficiently," the point still comes across. Twilight is harder to know. I like that. But "insufficiently" barges in like the Kool-Aid man and messes up your flow.

(I find poetry harder to know. Did Whitman write this easily, or did he have to revise, and hate it, like myself?)

As I said, twilight is strange and different from any other time, yet more familiar to me than the day,

There's a few items I'd like to address in this section. First of all, I think that "I find poetry harder to know" would be a great title for this poem. It's really what this is all about, the two sides between prose and poetry, the inside and the outside, all the same and enveloping but different. It's a very simple, straightforward thing to say, but it really resonated with me, and I think modifying the poem's title would be a wise choice on your part. Secondly, the reference to Whitman just sounds a little pretentious here. Maybe it's just rubbing me the wrong way. Probably. Take this piece of advice with a grain of salt. It's difficult for me to compare myself with any great writer, so kudos for being able to compare yourself. Whitman is a bit of a god to me, so it makes me skeptical when anyone who isn't a household name compares themselves with him. Or any other household name poet, really. Third, when using parentheses, it's a good idea to ignore that they happened, You don't here. Even though we just read that you said "twilight is weird!" two lines ago, you reiterate here. It's a bit redundant because of the proximity.

Honestly, looking at the poem again, there's a big chunk that, if cut out, could really improve the flow and pace of the poem. If you cut from "I know dawn and sunset" down to the end of "as I said," and replaced all of that with a single line about how twilight is strange, it would be a lot more purposeful.

I'm noticing a lot of repeated words in this piece. A rule that I have for myself in poetry is that I can't use the same word twice, unless in purposeful repetition of an entire phrase or line (excluding conjunctions and articles, of course). It helps keep everything fresh. A test I do for myself usually is my find test. While you're pasting this into the publishing center, try pressing ctrl+F. That'll open a little dialogue window where you can find an exact word on the page. You use "know" five times in the poem. I get what you're trying to do at some points, but I think that a few of the repetitions were unintentional. You also use "now" quite a few times (not counting the "nows" that are inside "know" :p ) Watch out for words that you have a habit of using. Keep things fresh and interesting so the reader doesn't feel like they have deja vu!

But let me go out in the twilight, which isn't a good enough name,
Here the insufficient complaint comes back. It needs more explanation if it's going to be a theme. That might be a poem all on its own, honestly. If you're not able to explain in less than a line why twilight isn't a good enough name for dusk, I'd take out these sentiments because it distracts from the core of the poem.

if I wandered aimlessly I would be lost.
While I always enjoy a Tolkien reference, I think it would serve the theme of the poem better if you referenced some Whitman. Something undeniably Whitman. Just as that line is undeniably Tolkien. Perhaps reference Whitman's most famous line-- "I celebrate myself, and sing myself." You could incorporate this by saying something like,
And let me have something to do or somewhere to go, so I too can sing myself.
Or something like that.

I said "You" in the beginning, meaning God, but then I meant you, the reader,

And I tell you He gave me glasses and Whitman and made this perfect thing for myself and I alone to see.

You cannot see it, as I cannot describe it, but I may make you see something,

I was heartily enjoying all the imagery that you presented, and then I came to this point. This is my least favorite part of the poem because it reminds me that this is a poem. I was finally floating away back to my parents house in the evening, with crickets singing themselves, and the tweed lampshade dustily lighting my father's armchair while late-summer stormclouds gather outside in the cool of the dark-- and then we get all this unneeded meta explanation of readers and gods and basically saying, "dear reader, I hope you like this. Love, lelu." I did like it! But I wish that you didn't include the explanation. As Stephen King says, "The most important things are the hardest to say... because words diminish them." We can surmise pretty much everything you've laid out in the poem from the previous sections. You're good enough with the imagery and putting your emotions into the words that we already know you want to take us there. You want to make this normal moment seem as important to others as it is to you. You did it. So please, for the sake of the piece, remove the lines I pointed out here.

The last two lines aren't my favorite, but if you'd like to keep them, they're not terrible. They're still along the lines of telling and not showing, for sure. I'd definitely work on incorporating them better if you choose to follow my advice and take out those previous lines.

There wasn't a good place to say this earlier in the review, but I'd like to see at least one image from each of the five senses here. Really take us there! What does twilight smell like? Where would you wander? What would you touch there? Just an idea to add a little more pizzazz to your already lovely imagery.

Altogether, I feel like this needs a little work to come together, but once you edit again, I think this will be really solid. I hope that this review proves useful to you! Let me know if you have questions!





'Like' and 'equal' are two entirely different things.
— Madeleine L'Engle, A Wrinkle in Time