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v2.

The Stretcher Bearers Wore Grey

Four carried him shoulder high,
a rueful grimace in khaki,

borne across the endless mud.

As they passed, each of us marked their service -
one soldier to another - and agreed
how they were good men, yes, even as we
wiped their comrades' blood from our bayonets.











The Stretcher Bearers Wore Grey


Four carried him, shoulder high, a Pharaoh

on his palanquin, a rueful grimace,
borne across the Great Grey Sea of Mud.

As they passed, each of us marked their service -
one soldier to another - and agreed
how they were good men, yes, even as we
wiped their comrades blood from our bayonets.





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I like the concept - good idea.

When reading anything, I find the use of capitalizations - where not standard usage - interfere with the read. IMO, anything that distracts from the first read [for the reader] - or requires going back over a second time for clarification - is something to be considered for editing.

S2 flows nicely, and makes a subtle point. Good closure. May I suggest:

As they passed, we each marked their service

S1 stumbled a bit for me on first read. I think how the meter is handled may smooth that out with little adjustment.

Carried by four, shoulder high, a pharaoh
on his palanquin; with rueful grimace
borne across the great grey sea of mud.

Nice work

The title - how about 'The Bearers Wore Grey'. I think stretcher in the title gives away the reveal, and adds nothing in return.
(07-03-2019, 08:52 PM)Knot Wrote: [ -> ].
The Stretcher Bearers Wore Grey


Four carried him, shoulder high, a Pharaoh
the first comma here seems unnecessary
on his palanquin, a rueful grimace, second comma might not be necessary
borne across the Great Grey Sea of Mud.

As they passed, each of us marked their service - could place "by" after "passed" if smoother is desired, otherwise not
one soldier to another - and agreed
how they were good men, yes, even as we lovely delay here, in which the reader inserts "are" only to be rudely corrected
wiped their comrades blood from our bayonets. need apostrophe after "comrades" (possessive plural)

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Solid images with a good turn at the end.  Nicely vague about which war, though the Great War is suggested by the Sea of Mud (also seen in the War Between the States, but rarely).  The "rueful grimace" in L2 is a little hard to interpret (feels foolish about getting a blighty, as if to apologize to those who will have to soldier on).  Could, of course, be any war after the invention of the bayonet - every color uniform looks the same in the mud (hmm... bandsmen usually had their uniform colors reversed, and served as stretcher bearers when not employed in the band of music).

Which leads into all kinds of complications:  one of ours being carried by enemy bearers to the nearest aid station, one of theirs by ours, etc.. Which is sort of the point, I guess.

You could lessen the equivocation by mentioning aother color (blue or green vs. (field)grey), but it holds up well as is.
(07-03-2019, 08:52 PM)Knot Wrote: [ -> ].
The Stretcher Bearers Wore Grey


Four carried him, shoulder high, a Pharaoh

on his palanquin, a rueful grimace,
borne across the Great Grey Sea of Mud.

As they passed, each of us marked their service -
one soldier to another - and agreed
how they were good men, yes, even as we
wiped their comrades blood from our bayonets.


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The image of the Pharoah suggests arrogance and godliness which doesn’t get expanded upon and doesn’t fit the metaphor for the dead body and interferes with the buildup of negative emotion, weakening the cynical voice later used. The rueful grimace while it is a good image doesn’t impact the meaning of the second stanza. The wiping of their comrade’s blood from the bayonets suggests a context that doesn’t get explored or referenced. For a smaller poem everything is too easy to work out and there isn’t a lot of ambiguity which is a strength of shorter poems that you’re not capitalising on. The great grey sea of mud is okay but is there really only mud? Why wouldn’t there be barbed wire or something to imply danger or hostility or sharpness to create some contrast in that image? Also watch your capitalisations but if you are referencing something of that name I don’t know it, and no one else does, and it’s not a powerful reference. The cynicism is now becoming poorly expressed and cliché and in tandem with this the language use of “how they were good men” is dull. 

It’s basically a mess. ABANDON SHIP, SWIM TO THE SHORE!!!

3.5/10
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Hi Seraphim.


Fear not, capitalisation gone in revision.

Thanks for the suggestions, always nice to have, but may have to live with the stumble in S1, 'carried by four' is just too formal.
That said, I could simply cut S1 entirely. Any thoughts?

In S2, I think this 'we' diminishes the second one. Plus 'us' comes with an implied 'them' (I hope).

The title - how about 'The Bearers Wore Grey'. I think stretcher in the title gives away the reveal, and adds nothing

in return.
Not following you here.

_________________________


Hi duke,

thanks for the detailed crit. (Embarrassing) punctuation errors fixed.

Solid images with a good turn at the end. Nicely vague about which war, though the Great War is suggested by the

Sea of Mud (also seen in the War Between the States, but rarely).
- Yes, though it grew out of Pharaoh (ancient Egyptians referred to the Mediterranean as The Great Green (though doubt has been
cast upon this translation recently).
The "rueful grimace" in L2 is a little hard to interpret (feels foolish about getting a blighty, as if to apologize to those
who will have to soldier on).
- No, that's exactly what I was going for (after a scene in Peter Jackson's They Shall Never Grow Old).

uniform colors
... leads into all kinds of complications: one of ours being carried by enemy bearers to the nearest aid
station, one of theirs by ours, etc.. Which is sort of the point, I guess.
- That is the point, in the film it was a British soldier being carried/rescued by recently captured German pows.
You could lessen the equivocation by mentioning aother color (blue or green vs. (field)grey), but it holds up well as is.

- Taken this on board with the revision, hope it's an improvement.

_________________________


(07-05-2019, 04:33 PM)Oden Prufrock Wrote: [ -> ]The image of the Pharoah suggests arrogance and godliness which doesn’t get expanded upon and doesn’t fit the metaphor for the dead body and interferes with the buildup of negative emotion, weakening the cynical voice later used.
What dead body? Clearly you have misread this. D-
(See duke's response for clarification)



______________________________




Thanks all, Knot.




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'endless' sounds cliched, and 'rueful grimace' is much too abstract
also, khaki is literally, the colour of dust ('khaak' in urdu / parsi = dust). not grey. unless you're talking about two different uniforms, and then it's confusing.

I actually preferred the original, which contained a few arresting similes. the edited version is a bit bland.
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Thanks for the read busker.

Khaki (from the etymology you reference) is/was the colour of the British Army uniform during WWI,
grey was worn by the Germans.


Best, Knot


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Quote:The title - how about 'The Bearers Wore Grey'. I think stretcher in the title gives away the reveal, and adds nothing
in return.
Not following you here.

Probably just personal preference. I think the reader gets the metaphor by reading S1 without being told in the title. Kind of the way I like to learn what the poem's about.

S2 is strong enoigh to stand alone, but I like the opening trophe.
(07-06-2019, 10:52 PM)Knot Wrote: [ -> ].
Thanks for the read busker.

Khaki (from the etymology you reference) is/was the colour of the British Army uniform during WWI,
grey was worn by the Germans.


Best, Knot


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I see where I missed it. The 'they' makes more sense now.
Nice one.
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Hi Seraphim.


Just found out this should probably be called The Carrying Party Wore Grey - would that address the 'reveal' issue?


Best, Knot.


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(07-31-2019, 03:02 AM)Knot Wrote: [ -> ].
Hi Seraphim.


Just found out this should probably be called The Carrying Party Wore Grey - would that address the 'reveal' issue?


Best, Knot.


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Actually feldgrau, if you can stand the extra syllable.
(07-31-2019, 08:23 AM)dukealien Wrote: [ -> ]Actually feldgrau, if you can stand the extra syllable.


Now that's interesting. Can't stand the extra syllable, but if the title
was 'Feldgrau Carrying Party' would that work?
(Though it was recently pointed out to me that 'The Stretcher Bearers
Wore Grey' has echoes of a line in Casablanca - "I remember every
detail - the Germans wore grey, you wore blue" - and that certainly
has appeal.) Will ponder, but thanks very much for the suggestion duke.


Best, Knot.


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I guess I’m just not a fan of long titles lol. 

‘Field gray’ gives too much away, when combined with the rest, if I’m interpreting it correctly, and doesn’t flow imo. I like titles that offer a hint of the underlying theme. But nothing more. But, again, that’s just personal preference.

Why not just “Feldgrau”, if you want the German in the title?
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Hi Seraphim,
thanks for returning.
I think I'm going to go for 'The Carrying Party Wore Grey'
(if only as a least worst option).

Thanks again,

best, Knot.




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short but poignant
the thing i like about this is the image which is set up at the end of the piece. it really does hark back to the time of one side giving quarter.

(07-03-2019, 08:52 PM)Knot Wrote: [ -> ]v2.

The Stretcher Bearers Wore Grey this sets the poem up, i'm assuming medics.

Four carried him shoulder high,
a rueful grimace in khaki,
borne across the endless mud. for me i'd place it in the 1st world war but it could be one of many, perhaps an extra sign.

As they passed, each of us marked their service -
one soldier to another - and agreed
how they were good men, yes, even as we
wiped their comrades' blood from our bayonets. this last stanza is illuminating, the bayonets are for me the extra sign i wanted. the twist show the reader there are good men on both sides of a war. [comrade's i think]










The Stretcher Bearers Wore Grey


Four carried him, shoulder high, a Pharaoh

on his palanquin, a rueful grimace,
borne across the Great Grey Sea of Mud.

As they passed, each of us marked their service -
one soldier to another - and agreed
how they were good men, yes, even as we
wiped their comrades blood from our bayonets.





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(08-08-2019, 12:16 PM)billy Wrote: [ -> ]short but poignant

the thing i like about this is the image which is set up at the end of the piece. it really does hark back to the time of one side giving quarter.
 
Thanks very much billy.


The Stretcher Bearers Wore Grey this sets the poem up, I'm assuming medics.
And you'd be wrong to. Smile But that's my fault.
'Stretcher bearers' were medics, the people referred to here were not, so the title should be The Carrying Party Wore Grey.
I based it on a scene in Peter Jackson's 'They Shall Never Grow Old', where recently captured German prisoners (their uniform is Grey)
- having yet to be transferred from the front line to 'prison' - volunteered as stretcher bearers and helped the wounded 'enemy' (the
British uniform being Khaki).

...
borne across the endless mud. for me i'd place it in the 1st world war but it could be one of many, perhaps an extra sign.
Yes, WW1 (I thought 'endless mud' would be sufficient for that.)

...
wiped their comrades' blood from our bayonets. this last stanza is illuminating, the bayonets are for me the extra sign i wanted.
the twist show the reader there are good men on both sides of a war. [comrade's i think]
Thanks. No, plural, N's side had just killed a trench full of those 'good men'.


Best, Knot


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(07-03-2019, 08:52 PM)Knot Wrote: [ -> ].
v2.

The Stretcher Bearers Wore Grey

Four carried him shoulder high,
a rueful grimace in khaki,

borne across the endless mud.

As they passed, each of us marked their service -
one soldier to another - and agreed
how they were good men, yes, even as we
wiped their comrades' blood from our bayonets.











The Stretcher Bearers Wore Grey


Four carried him, shoulder high, a Pharaoh

on his palanquin, a rueful grimace,
borne across the Great Grey Sea of Mud.

As they passed, each of us marked their service -
one soldier to another - and agreed
how they were good men, yes, even as we
wiped their comrades blood from our bayonets.





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The opening “four carried him shoulder high” seems literal and doesn’t possess much expression or emotionality, and I feel like it’s boring but others may disagree. I like the detail of “shoulder high” since it could suggest pride but this isn’t implicit or apparent and other possibilities could be argued for, and it doesn’t add to the subtext. “A rueful grimace in khaki” is strange since khaki isn’t a colour worn particularly often on the field, so you should think about what you’re trying to say by including that colour and express it more effectively. “Borne across the endless mud” is a great line, it’s got the perspective of the carriers while creating this sense of trappedness, but it’s a shame you don’t expand on this or what the carriers go through. I like the paradoxical ambiguity of them agreeing that someone they don’t know and people they don’t know are “good men”, especially after battling them. It gives a sense of humanity to the piece and by italising the language you make it clear the words are of people and not just poor writing. Ultimately I think the image of a rueful grimace is good and links well with the paradoxical ambiguity, but there are parts like the endless mud which don’t work the best they could since you are under writing. 6.5/10 decent but cliche