(SHA 5) The Stretcher Bearers Wore Grey (v2)
#1
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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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#2
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.
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#3
(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.
feedback award Non-practicing atheist
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#4
(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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#5
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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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#6
'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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#7
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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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#8
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.
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#9
(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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