Seasonal Spirit
#1
Sooty footprints tracked from hearth to tree,
where piled gifts stoked dreams that dwindled
at gales of drywall-muffled laughter, once sleep
finally arrived. I stumbled out my room, now stirred,
past polished floors that held the glow
of glinting firelight, following those warm

familiar voices, bleary-eyed. My feet kept warm
in the soles of my pajamas and the fir tree
broke the day beneath its messianic golden glow,
without the sun---its days now dwindled.
Outside, the land was fawn, not simply stirred,
growing carefree crystals in a dreamless sleep.

I greeted them at the kitchen table, still rubbing sleep
from my baggy eyes, and they erupted in warm
welcomes from their talks that eggnog stirred.
At the table, tradition adorned the needles on a tree
that some, as the years went by, dwindled
into brittleness then fell away while we still glow.

Gathered around the fire, our faces had a glow,
sticky with marshmallow and char. Freed of sleep,
we awaited midnight while the fire dwindled
as the final one for years to come. We set our warm
spits against the jamb when they called us to the tree
over karaoke blaring loud enough to have stirred

other children waiting for the dawn, as ardor stirred
us into a frenzied race that briefly lit an irritated glow
in yells to watch the furniture. For every fir tree
needle was a gift, with some as frayed as sleep,
the paper subtly torn at the corners, and some still warm
from being held. Piles of presents dwindled

over those nights. The family room is cleaner. Dwindled
needles only strew our floors. We're not stirred
when even embers do not breathe, for we are warm
already. Still, we string our house in lights that glow
with incandescent hopes that, while we sleep,
yesterday will be placed and found beneath the tree.

Spirits in the warm night have burned and dwindled
and the fir tree is bare on Yule. Green, like children stirred
where hearths would once glow, the land is seeking sleep.
Reply
#2
(12-19-2019, 10:49 AM)alexorande Wrote:  Sooty footprints tracked from hearth to tree,
where piled gifts stoked dreams that dwindled
at gales of drywall-muffled laughter, once sleep
finally arrived. I stumbled out my room, now stirred,
past polished floors that held the glow
of glinting firelight, following those warm

familiar voices, bleary-eyed. My feet kept warm
in the soles of my pajamas and the fir tree
broke the day beneath its messianic golden glow,
without the sun---its days now dwindled.
Outside, the land was fawn, not simply stirred,
growing carefree crystals in a dreamless sleep.

I greeted them at the kitchen table, still rubbing sleep
from my baggy eyes, and they erupted in warm
welcomes from their talks that eggnog stirred.
At the table, tradition adorned the needles on a tree
that some, as the years went by, dwindled
into brittleness then fell away while we still glow.

Gathered around the fire, our faces had a glow,
sticky with marshmallow and char. Freed of sleep,
we awaited midnight while the fire dwindled
as the final one for years to come. We set our warm
spits against the jamb when they called us to the tree
over karaoke blaring loud enough to have stirred

other children waiting for the dawn, as ardor stirred
us into a frenzied race that briefly lit an irritated glow
in yells to watch the furniture. For every fir tree
needle was a gift, with some as frayed as sleep,
the paper subtly torn at the corners, and some still warm
from being held. Piles of presents dwindled

over those nights. The family room is cleaner. Dwindled
needles only strew our floors. We're not stirred
when even embers do not breathe, for we are warm
already. Still, we string our house in lights that glow
with incandescent hopes that, while we sleep,
yesterday will be placed and found beneath the tree.

Spirits in the warm night have burned and dwindled
and the fir tree is bare on Yule. Green, like children stirred
where hearths would once glow, the land is seeking sleep.

Having never attempted a sestina, I'm poorly positioned to offer even mild critique.  For example, if I did try it on, I'd undoubtedly choose a meter and stick doggedly to it... adding further difficulty to an already daunting process (although, fool that I am, I believe I could, if put to it).

So, taking it as read that this work fits the form, how could it be improved?  There are some excellent phrases, particularly in S2:  "the land was fawn" is so much better than "dappled" or "fallow."  And 

broke the day beneath its messianic golden glow

is grand.  But it's also a good example of how I think the work could be improved.  To me, there's just too much in there.  Not a rewrite, but consider

broke day beneath its messianic glow

which has less splendor but some might find it easier to add to what has gone before, and build on with what comes after.

In short (g), I think you may need fewer words.  As it is, the work is discursive and looks at things from different directions (is that a known virtue of the sestina?  I don't know).  Without submitting to yet another rule (like eight or ten beats to a line) beyond the form's, I'm wondering if you could get to the required ends by more direct, but equally fine lines.

I hope that helps.  A work like this is a rare feat, and I don't want to dismiss it with fainter praise than it deserves.
feedback award Non-practicing atheist
Reply
#3
.
Hi Alex,
I'm with duke on this, admiring of the attempt so reluctant to criticise.

That said ... that it isn't metered is fine (apparently), but it's biggest weakness, for me, is the enjambments.

You break to end the line on the relevant word and it shows (S1/L3 for instance).
As a consequence some of the lines seem almost surreal (S1/L4, is the 'room' 'now stirred'?  Or S2/L2, are
your feet in the 'fir tree'?)

S1/L3 - 'as' for 'of'?

S3/L1 - might be less ambiguous if 'still' (which could apply to N or 'them') were replaced with 'while'.

Following duke on the 'simplification', you've both 'glow' and 'incandescent' in S6, making'glow' almost

certainly redundant. (See also 'ardour' (not the best word) and 'frenzied').

I'm not convinced you've picked the best (six) words to work with - 'sleep' in particular becomes worn and

uninteresting very quickly in this piece (and 'dwindled' isn't much better).

(As an aside, in S1 'once sleep had finally arrived' is followed by 'I stumble' and the rest

of the poem in which everyone is awake. Confused by that.)

I'm left wondering if this subject suits this form (which, apparently, is typically used for complaints).

I'm not sure it does.


Best, Knot





.
Reply




Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!