Baghdad (prose poem) - edit 1
#1
Baghdad (edit 1)

When I had a golden quill, I had no words. So I pawned it at a shop on Mutanabbi street. The bearded man at the counter handed me a bronze token, bearing a caged silverbill with a plate of dates in front. I threw it away. Even the money was more obedient. It flew without collar, fetching roadkill for food, sometimes throwing me a morsel. In the evening I and my beloved watched the beheading of a boy thief. As he was walked to the block, an avalanche of rotten melons greeted him - a last hearty meal, a premature invitation to the flies. A hawker sold pinwheels in the crowd. I thought back to the windmill in my village, and father's orchards. 
When my garden had no fruits I gave it water. Like a demon, it left me dry. One day I left it behind for these walls, and became quieter. The river dragged my days downstream. 
Tigris, crude mother, your blessings upon the world. You have taken our anchors, and for that you have our gratitude. Every moment we move, a city bound to the camel's back.  To the southeast lies Ctesiphon, empty; to the north, Samarra, empty again. As we had herded our sheep, the mountains herd us. Here lie the bricks of the House of Wisdom; here, the bricks of the Golden Gate. We pick them up again. Here lies regret, caution. Au revoir, mother. The next time we will build a house without history.




Baghdad

When I had a golden quill I had no words to give, so I pawned it away at a shop on Mutanabbi street. The bearded man handed me a bronze token bearing a caged silverbill, plate of dates in front. The money was obedient. In the evening I and my beloved watched the beheading of a boy thief. A hawker sold pinwheels in the crowd.

When my garden had no fruits I gave it water. Like a demon, it left me dry. The river dragged the days downstream.
Tigris, crude mother, your blessings upon the world. Every day we moved, a city tottering on the camel's back.  To the southeast lay Ctesiphon, empty. To the north, Samarra, empty again. As we had herded our sheep the mountains herded us - good flock, bad flock, wolf bait. Here lie the bricks of the House of Wisdom. Here the bricks of the Golden Gate. Here lies regret. Caution. Au revoir. The next time we will build a house without history.

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#2
Hi ritwik,
some wonderful imagery and more than a few very good lines.
Needs tightening and to flow better, I think.  Too many too
short sentences.

Baghdad (prose poem)

When I had a golden quill I had no words to give,
(either finish the thought - give to who... - or cut 'to give')
so I pawned it away at a shop on Mutanabbi street.
(you don't need 'away')
The bearded man handed me a bronze token bearing a caged silverbill, plate of dates in front.
(I think this is in the wrong order:
From behind a plate of dates the bearded man handed me a bronze token
bearing a caged silverbill)
The money was obedient.
(love this line, but I can't decide if it needs to be elaborated upon, or not)

In the evening
(for me, this doesn't make much sense after 'when' L1)
I and my beloved watched the beheading of a boy thief. A hawker sold pinwheels in the crowd.
(it's a great image, but it goes nowhere)
When
(back to 'when' again, ok)
my garden had no fruits I gave it water. Like a demon, it left me dry.
(perhaps it should be 'but like a demon'?)
The river dragged the days downstream.
(good line)
Tigris, crude mother, your blessings upon the world.
This doesn't really work after 'the river dragged', but might make for a good opening line.
Every day we moved, a city tottering on the camel's back. To the southeast lay Ctesiphon,
('day' so close to 'days' feels too much like repetition, any reason why you couldn't substitute 'time'? - tottering,
sonically, is a bit ugly)
empty. To the north, Samarra, empty again.
Can't see why the sentences are so short. Why not;
To the southeast lay Ctesiphon, empty, abandoned Samarra to the north ?
As we had herded our sheep the mountains herded us
Great line.
- good flock, bad flock, wolf bait.
terrible line. Sorry, but it really is. Cut it, bury it.
Here lie the bricks of the House of Wisdom. Here the bricks of the Golden Gate.
(I think this list needs to be longer before you get to 'regret' - though I'd suggest cutting
it and 'caution' 'au revoir', they interrupt the flow to what is a really nice end line.
Here lies regret. Caution. Au revoir.
The next time we will build a house without history.
good end line.

I don't think the prose 'format' helps this piece,
that said, enjoyed the read.


Best, Knot.
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#3
(03-04-2018, 04:40 AM)Knot Wrote:  Hi ritwik,
some wonderful imagery and more than a few very good lines.
Needs tightening and to flow better, I think.  Too many too
short sentences.

Baghdad (prose poem)

When I had a golden quill I had no words to give,
(either finish the thought - give to who... - or cut 'to give') Placed a "to the world first time I wrote this. Might go back to that, but I need to think a bit on that
so I pawned it away at a shop on Mutanabbi street.
(you don't need 'away') agree
The bearded man handed me a bronze token bearing a caged silverbill, plate of dates in front.
(I think this is in the wrong order:
From behind a plate of dates the bearded man handed me a bronze token
bearing a caged silverbill) - The plate of dates is supposed to be on the token. I agree that this needs to be restructured, though.
The money was obedient.
(love this line, but I can't decide if it needs to be elaborated upon, or not) The only elaboration that comes to mind is a scene of the narrator buying something. Not sure that would fit in.

In the evening
(for me, this doesn't make much sense after 'when' L1)
I and my beloved watched the beheading of a boy thief. A hawker sold pinwheels in the crowd.
(it's a great image, but it goes nowhere)
When
(back to 'when' again, ok)
my garden had no fruits I gave it water. Like a demon, it left me dry.
(perhaps it should be 'but like a demon'?)
The river dragged the days downstream.
(good line)
Tigris, crude mother, your blessings upon the world.
This doesn't really work after 'the river dragged', but might make for a good opening line.
Every day we moved, a city tottering on the camel's back. To the southeast lay Ctesiphon,
('day' so close to 'days' feels too much like repetition, any reason why you couldn't substitute 'time'? - tottering,
sonically, is a bit ugly) agree.
empty. To the north, Samarra, empty again.
Can't see why the sentences are so short. Why not;
To the southeast lay Ctesiphon, empty, abandoned Samarra to the north ?
As we had herded our sheep the mountains herded us
Great line.
- good flock, bad flock, wolf bait.
terrible line. Sorry, but it really is. Cut it, bury it. Yeah, thought so once.
Here lie the bricks of the House of Wisdom. Here the bricks of the Golden Gate.
(I think this list needs to be longer before you get to 'regret' - though I'd suggest cutting
it and 'caution' 'au revoir', they interrupt the flow to what is a really nice end line.
I'll have to see if I can get a few more lines on this one - it does feel a bit short. 
Here lies regret. Caution. Au revoir.
The next time we will build a house without history.
good end line.

I don't think the prose 'format' helps this piece,
that said, enjoyed the read.


Best, Knot.
Again, thanks for the read and review. I'll rewrite this sometime next week.
Reply
#4
(03-04-2018, 02:31 PM)ritwiksadhu33 Wrote:  The money was obedient.
(love this line, but I can't decide if it needs to be elaborated upon, or not)
The only elaboration that comes to mind is a scene of the narrator
buying something. Not sure that would fit in.


Perhaps, give the context, you could compare the money to a hawk or falcon
used for hunting (obedient and dangerous)? Just a thought.


Best, Knot.
Reply
#5
(03-05-2018, 03:11 AM)Knot Wrote:  
(03-04-2018, 02:31 PM)ritwiksadhu33 Wrote:  The money was obedient.
(love this line, but I can't decide if it needs to be elaborated upon, or not)
The only elaboration that comes to mind is a scene of the narrator
buying something. Not sure that would fit in.


Perhaps, give the context, you could compare the money to a hawk or falcon
used for hunting (obedient and dangerous)? Just a thought.


Best, Knot.
Great suggestion, thanks. I decided to keep it to generic bird of prey for now to fit the lines, but I might try redoing that section and the middle part later — the falcon analogy sounds promising.
Reply
#6
(03-04-2018, 03:04 AM)ritwiksadhu33 Wrote:  Baghdad (edit 1)

When I had a golden quill, I had no words. So I pawned it at a shop on Mutanabbi street. The bearded man at the counter handed me a bronze token, bearing a caged silverbill with a plate of dates in front. I threw it away. Even the money was more obedient. It flew without collar, fetching roadkill for food, sometimes throwing me a morsel. In the evening I and my beloved watched the beheading of a boy thief. As he was walked to the block, an avalanche of rotten melons greeted him - a last hearty meal, a premature invitation to the flies. A hawker sold pinwheels in the crowd. I thought back to the windmill in my village, and father's orchards. 
When my garden had no fruits I gave it water. Like a demon, it left me dry. One day I left it behind for these walls, and became quieter. The river dragged my days downstream. 
Tigris, crude mother, your blessings upon the world. You have taken our anchors, and for that you have our gratitude. Every moment we move, a city bound to the camel's back.  To the southeast lies Ctesiphon, empty; to the north, Samarra, empty again. As we had herded our sheep, the mountains herd us. Here lie the bricks of the House of Wisdom; here, the bricks of the Golden Gate. We pick them up again. Here lies regret, caution. Au revoir, mother. The next time we will build a house without history.




Baghdad

When I had a golden quill I had no words to give, so I pawned it away at a shop on Mutanabbi street. The bearded man handed me a bronze token bearing a caged silverbill, plate of dates in front. The money was obedient. In the evening I and my beloved watched the beheading of a boy thief. A hawker sold pinwheels in the crowd.

When my garden had no fruits I gave it water. Like a demon, it left me dry. The river dragged the days downstream.
Tigris, crude mother, your blessings upon the world. Every day we moved, a city tottering on the camel's back.  To the southeast lay Ctesiphon, empty. To the north, Samarra, empty again. As we had herded our sheep the mountains herded us - good flock, bad flock, wolf bait. Here lie the bricks of the House of Wisdom. Here the bricks of the Golden Gate. Here lies regret. Caution. Au revoir. The next time we will build a house without history.



i like the changes you made (EVEN the money was MORE obedient, we pick them up again, au revoir, MOTHER).

the only nit i´d find would be: "i left it behind for THESE walls" (which walls, walls were not mentioned before, or should at least be specified - city walls? walls of a room?).
i believe there´s  much more in your poem than i am able to understand (and i´d appreciate if you explained via PM), but from what i get now i wouldn´t want you to change your poem because it´s beautiful as it is.
the last line is an opener to thoughts into many directions.
...
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#7
(03-06-2018, 09:38 AM)vagabond Wrote:  
(03-04-2018, 03:04 AM)ritwiksadhu33 Wrote:  Baghdad (edit 1)

When I had a golden quill, I had no words. So I pawned it at a shop on Mutanabbi street. The bearded man at the counter handed me a bronze token, bearing a caged silverbill with a plate of dates in front. I threw it away. Even the money was more obedient. It flew without collar, fetching roadkill for food, sometimes throwing me a morsel. In the evening I and my beloved watched the beheading of a boy thief. As he was walked to the block, an avalanche of rotten melons greeted him - a last hearty meal, a premature invitation to the flies. A hawker sold pinwheels in the crowd. I thought back to the windmill in my village, and father's orchards. 
When my garden had no fruits I gave it water. Like a demon, it left me dry. One day I left it behind for these walls, and became quieter. The river dragged my days downstream. 
Tigris, crude mother, your blessings upon the world. You have taken our anchors, and for that you have our gratitude. Every moment we move, a city bound to the camel's back.  To the southeast lies Ctesiphon, empty; to the north, Samarra, empty again. As we had herded our sheep, the mountains herd us. Here lie the bricks of the House of Wisdom; here, the bricks of the Golden Gate. We pick them up again. Here lies regret, caution. Au revoir, mother. The next time we will build a house without history.




Baghdad

When I had a golden quill I had no words to give, so I pawned it away at a shop on Mutanabbi street. The bearded man handed me a bronze token bearing a caged silverbill, plate of dates in front. The money was obedient. In the evening I and my beloved watched the beheading of a boy thief. A hawker sold pinwheels in the crowd.

When my garden had no fruits I gave it water. Like a demon, it left me dry. The river dragged the days downstream.
Tigris, crude mother, your blessings upon the world. Every day we moved, a city tottering on the camel's back.  To the southeast lay Ctesiphon, empty. To the north, Samarra, empty again. As we had herded our sheep the mountains herded us - good flock, bad flock, wolf bait. Here lie the bricks of the House of Wisdom. Here the bricks of the Golden Gate. Here lies regret. Caution. Au revoir. The next time we will build a house without history.



i like the changes you made (EVEN the money was MORE obedient, we pick them up again, au revoir, MOTHER).

the only nit i´d find would be: "i left it behind for THESE walls" (which walls, walls were not mentioned before, or should at least be specified - city walls? walls of a room?).
i believe there´s  much more in your poem than i am able to understand (and i´d appreciate if you explained via PM), but from what i get now i wouldn´t want you to change your poem because it´s beautiful as it is.
the last line is an opener to thoughts into many directions.

Hi vagabond,
Sorry for the extremely late reply: been a bit busy with coursework lately. The vagueness around the walls was intended: it refers to city walls as well as the walls in the narrator's mind. Of course, it might be too much in a poem that is already heavily symbolic. Let me know if it felt so. As for any other symbolism/deeper meanings, I pm'd them to you but you can also see below.


The poem essentially centres around how the Middle East, as a whole, has been embroiled in violence since time immemorial, with cities falling and rising, and the people being thrown from one place to the other. The first line is a play on the first line of a famous couplet by Kabir: " When I was, Hari was not/ Now that Hari is, I am not". The narrator is a poet, who has migrated to Baghdad from his ancestral village, perhaps in search of renown or simply a better life. Yet in this transition he has lost his muse - in the opulent, dirty, heartless life of the city, his sense of beauty is lost. Most of the images relate to this - beheading of a boy thief (untimely death of his creativity), rotten melons as a last hearty meal before death (instead of happiness, now what comes out of pen is only the last gulp of soured wine - a beautiful lament, but not the natural flowering of words in serene happiness), etc. What remains is merely his sorrow, speaking out with a hint of bitterness and sarcasm.

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