Seen at a Gate (was House Poor) - edit4
#1
Seen at a Gate


I passed an old man chipping at a gate
of iron, chiseling its coat of rust,
and wondered what had made that work his fate.
Could it be failure, poverty he must
confront by taking menial jobs each day?
Or was he house-poor, working on his own
dear residence because he couldn’t pay
a younger laborer, so scraped alone?
That place was grand:  no meaner home, like mine,
has fences so demanding or so fine.



edit3;

House Poor



I passed an old man chipping at a fence

of iron, slowly scaling off its rust,

and wondered what had brought this ancient thence–

could he be destitute, so poor he must

find menial jobs to earn his keep each day?

Or was he house-poor, working on his own

last residence because he couldn’t pay

a younger man to help, and scraped alone?

That place was grand:  no cheaper home, like mine,

has fences so demanding or so fine.



edit2;



I passed an old man chipping at a fence

of iron, slowly scaling off its rust,

and wondered what had brought this ancient thence–

could he be destitute, so poor he must

take menial jobs to earn his keep today?

Or was he house-poor, working on his own

last residence because he couldn’t pay

a younger man to help, so scraped alone?

That place was grand:  no cheaper home, like mine,

has fences so demanding or so fine.



edit1;



I passed an old man chipping at a fence

of iron, slowly scaling off its rust,

and wondered what had brought this codger thence–

could he be destitute, so poor he must

perform odd jobs to earn his bread today?

Or was he house-poor, working on his own

last residence because he couldn’t pay

a younger man to help, so scraped alone?

That place was nice; no cheaper home, like mine,

has fences so demanding or so fine.



original version;



I passed an old man chipping at a fence

of iron, slowly scaling off its rust,

and wondered what had brought this codger thence–

could he be destitute, so poor he must

perform odd jobs to earn his bread each day?

Or was he house-poor, working on his own

last residence because he couldn’t pay

a younger man to help, so scraped alone?

That place was posh; a cheaper home, like mine,

boasts no fence so demanding or so fine.
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#2
Enjoyable and captivating.  An interesting rhyming scheme for a decasyllabic dizain.  It reads relatively smooth for me.  I do struggle slightly with lines 7 and 8.  I tended to catch on "Last" for the fist few readings, and after working through that, the three multi syllable words in a line contrasting with the rest of the lines made it feel much smaller than ten syllables.  I still sometimes accidentally throw in a "he" for the eighth line.  Possibly subconsciously feeling a need for more syllables from the previous line. Since the name of the poem is "House Poor" I wonder if it is beneficial contemplating if the man is just doing an odd job.  Could you use those two lines and illustrate the arduous labor the elderly man is engaged in?  If iambic pentameter is the design then I struggle on how to scan the final line that way.  BOASTS no FENCE so de MAND ing or so FINE. Via the rule of three you could emphasize the "or".  If you leave the "or" deemphasized then you could stress the "de" along with "mand" creating a double iamb and technically it could be IP, but no matter how many times I read it this line does not feel or sound iambic to me.  The last line is great, and I cannot help but extrapolate a meaning of nicer things are more demanding things, and to project that to entities other than houses.  In a good way this poem leaves me wanting more.  Should you want to continue this theme I would be interested in another dizain where the narrator conjectures about the furnishings and possessions, or lack thereof, inside the home.
Joshua J. Smith
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#3
edit;
House Poor

I passed an old man chipping at a fence
of iron, slowly scaling off its rust,
and wondered what had brought this codger thence–
could he be destitute, so poor he must
perform odd jobs to earn his bread today?
Or was he house-poor, working on his own
last residence because he couldn’t pay
a younger man to help, so scraped alone?
That place was nice; no cheaper home, like mine,
has fences so demanding or so fine.


Thanks for your excellent critique.  In the revision, I've tried to ease the reading... though I did retain one or two phrases you found objectionable.

For example, I've altered lines 9-10 to reverse the logic and place "has" at the beginning of l. 10 instead of the stronger "boasts" which was leading me to read it,  BOASTS NO fence SO de MAN ding OR so FINE, varying away from strict iambic.  The same thing does happen at the beginning of l. 7, but I kept it for its little joke "..ON his OWN/LAST RE si DENCE..." as the meaning of l. 6 changes with what follows.

Not really a dizain, since it doesn't follow the prescribed rhyme scheme... perhaps a Shakespearean sonnet with the third quatrain missing  Huh

Very glad the nuances/possible symbolism or philosophy came through!

(01-15-2020, 01:46 AM)Joshua Smith Wrote:  Enjoyable and captivating.  An interesting rhyming scheme for a decasyllabic dizain.  It reads relatively smooth for me.  I do struggle slightly with lines 7 and 8.  I tended to catch on "Last" for the fist few readings, and after working through that, the three multi syllable words in a line contrasting with the rest of the lines made it feel much smaller than ten syllables.  I still sometimes accidentally throw in a "he" for the eighth line.  Possibly subconsciously feeling a need for more syllables from the previous line. Since the name of the poem is "House Poor" I wonder if it is beneficial contemplating if the man is just doing an odd job.  Could you use those two lines and illustrate the arduous labor the elderly man is engaged in?  If iambic pentameter is the design then I struggle on how to scan the final line that way.  BOASTS no FENCE so de MAND ing or so FINE. Via the rule of three you could emphasize the "or".  If you leave the "or" deemphasized then you could stress the "de" along with "mand" creating a double iamb and technically it could be IP, but no matter how many times I read it this line does not feel or sound iambic to me.  The last line is great, and I cannot help but extrapolate a meaning of nicer things are more demanding things, and to project that to entities other than houses.  In a good way this poem leaves me wanting more.  Should you want to continue this theme I would be interested in another dizain where the narrator conjectures about the furnishings and possessions, or lack thereof, inside the home.
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#4
(01-16-2020, 09:08 AM)dukealien Wrote:  Thanks for your excellent critique.  In the revision, I've tried to ease the reading... though I did retain one or two phrases you found objectionable.

For example, I've altered lines 9-10 to reverse the logic and place "has" at the beginning of l. 10 instead of the stronger "boasts" which was leading me to read it,  BOASTS NO fence SO de MAN ding OR so FINE, varying away from strict iambic.  The same thing does happen at the beginning of l. 7, but I kept it for its little joke "..ON his OWN/LAST RE si DENCE..." as the meaning of l. 6 changes with what follows.

Not really a dizain, since it doesn't follow the prescribed rhyme scheme... perhaps a Shakespearean sonnet with the third quatrain missing  Huh

Very glad the nuances/possible symbolism or philosophy came through!

It is sad to see the word "boasts" go, but the last line does read better for me.  I did see the spondee at the beginning of the seventh line.  I think that is an accepted substitute for strict IP, but I am not sure.  The play between six and seven is very fun.  Your poem is very good, and any qualms I raised are minuscule.  You packed a lot into this, yet it still feels light and fun.
Joshua J. Smith
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#5
.
Hi duke,
lots to like, though I too miss 'boasts'.
Is there anything better than 'nice/posh'.

Not keen on the title, seems a bit too restrictive.

I passed an old man chipping at a fence

of iron, slowly scaling off its rust,
- why 'its' rather than 'the'? Just curious.
and wondered what had brought this codger thence–
- not sure about 'codger', has its origins in beggar
so rather preempts 'destitute'. Maybe fellow/elder?
could he be destitute, so poor he must
- 'might' for 'could'?
(might he be destitute, and so must needs ... ?)
perform odd jobs to earn his bread today?
- 'today' seems to be filler - just there for the rhyme..
(perform odd jobs to supplement his crust ?)
Or was he house-poor, working on his own
last residence because he couldn’t pay
- 'last' seems a bit presumptuous. How do you know? Smile
a younger man to help, so scraped alone?
- I think you've got space to fit in a further speculation:
that he was doing it for love, pleasure or pride (or because
his partner has been nagging him Smile )
That place was nice; no cheaper home, like mine,
has fences so demanding or so fine.


Best, Knot


.
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#6
edit2;

I passed an old man chipping at a fence
of iron, slowly scaling off its rust,
and wondered what had brought this ancient thence–
could he be destitute, so poor he must
take menial jobs to earn his keep today?
Or was he house-poor, working on his own
last residence because he couldn’t pay
a younger man to help, so scraped alone?
That place was grand:  no cheaper home, like mine,
has fences so demanding or so fine.



Thanks for the good critique.  I've tried to fix some of the problems you mentioned in this edit, though not all of them and (as usual) not in quite the ways suggested.  Plus a tiny punctuation change.

As to presumption, I do specify that I'm wondering, i.e. speculating.  That's my story, anyway  Wink

(01-17-2020, 12:59 AM)Knot Wrote:  .
Hi duke,
lots to like, though I too miss 'boasts'.
Is there anything better than 'nice/posh'.

Not keen on the title, seems a bit too restrictive.

I passed an old man chipping at a fence

of iron, slowly scaling off its rust,
- why 'its' rather than 'the'? Just curious.
and wondered what had brought this codger thence–
- not sure about 'codger', has its origins in beggar
so rather preempts 'destitute'. Maybe fellow/elder?
could he be destitute, so poor he must
- 'might' for 'could'?
(might he be destitute, and so must needs ... ?)
perform odd jobs to earn his bread today?
- 'today' seems to be filler - just there for the rhyme..
(perform odd jobs to supplement his crust ?)
Or was he house-poor, working on his own
last residence because he couldn’t pay
- 'last' seems a bit presumptuous. How do you know? Smile
a younger man to help, so scraped alone?
- I think you've got space to fit in a further speculation:
that he was doing it for love, pleasure or pride (or because
his partner has been nagging him Smile )
That place was nice; no cheaper home, like mine,
has fences so demanding or so fine.


Best, Knot


.
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#7
.
Hi duke,
I'm not sure 'ancient' fixes anything (it's just a repeat of 'old man') and I'm becoming less and less convinced by 'thence'
- there are two possible meaning for that, as far as I can tell
From a place or source previously mentioned or As a consequence.
and neither seems to fit.


Might it be worth rearranging the deckchairs? Smile


I passed by a fence where an old man chipped
the iron, slowly scaling off its rust
and wondered were he perhaps a conscript
of circumstance, ill-starred, so poor he must


Still not convinced by 'last residence', 'proud' perhaps?
And maybe 'His place' for 'That place' (one more alliterative 'h' for the final couplet? )
'Grand' is an improvement, I think. (Shame 'swell' has dropped out of fashion Smile )


Best, Knot


.
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#8
edit3;

House Poor

I passed an old man chipping at a fence
of iron, slowly scaling off its rust,
and wondered what had brought this ancient thence–
could he be destitute, so poor he must
find menial jobs to earn his keep each day?
Or was he house-poor, working on his own
last residence because he couldn’t pay
a younger man to help, and scraped alone?
That place was grand:  no cheaper home, like mine,
has fences so demanding or so fine.


Thanks for the further critique.  I've made a few minor changes,  but find I'm fairly satisfied with it at this point.

Not to be defensive, but



I'm not thrilled with "thence," either, but I believe it conforms to your first usage, i.e. the old man wasn't at the fence before but has come there (the fence previously mentioned) at that moment.  E.g. "he sent men who brought him thence," KJV.  I'm not there now (I've already passed by), otherwise it would be "hence," i.e. "The prophet said, 'Bring thy other son hence.'"

I thought about exchanging "ancient" and "old man," but "an ancient" doesn't flow well for me; besides, why introduce that archaism so early?  There will be plenty along in a line or two  Big Grin .

Your critiques have made a big difference, and are much appreciated.

(01-21-2020, 01:32 AM)Knot Wrote:  .
Hi duke,
I'm not sure 'ancient' fixes anything (it's just a repeat of 'old man') and I'm becoming less and less convinced by 'thence'
- there are two possible meaning for that, as far as I can tell
From a place or source previously mentioned or As a consequence.
and neither seems to fit.


Might it be worth rearranging the deckchairs? Smile


I passed by a fence where an old man chipped
the iron, slowly scaling off its rust
and wondered were he perhaps a conscript
of circumstance, ill-starred, so poor he must


Still not convinced by 'last residence', 'proud' perhaps?
And maybe 'His place' for 'That place' (one more alliterative 'h' for the final couplet? )
'Grand' is an improvement, I think. (Shame 'swell' has dropped out of fashion Smile )


Best, Knot


.
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#9
Hey duke-

I'm pretty rusty at offering crit but a couple things jumped out at me.

1- "this ancient" is an oddly archaic description of an old guy (like me) 
2- "this ancient thence" compounds the problem and seems to be a force in search of a rhyme 

This poem uses such language and turns-of-phrase that younger folks probably should not use - especially not if they want to relate to old guys (me again). 

I'd suggest worrying less about the rhyme scheme, and paying more attention to the story you're trying to tell.

Hope not too critical for "mild to moderate", but I was hoping for something to be better able to grab onto (or have grab on to me).

I see what you're going for, and hope you get there.
Thanks,
... Mark
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#10
edit4;

Seen at a Gate


I passed an old man chipping at a gate
of iron, chiseling its coat of rust,
and wondered what had made that work his fate.
Could it be failure, poverty he must
confront by taking menial jobs each day?
Or was he house-poor, working on his own
dear residence because he couldn’t pay
a younger laborer, so scraped alone?
That place was grand:  no meaner home, like mine,
has fences so demanding or so fine.


Thanks, @Mark, I definitely needed that bracing critique to get over the fence and the ancient  Thumbsup .  Hope this is moving in the right direction now.


"Mean" and "dear" are still  somewhat archaic in the senses used here, but perhaps introduce some moral ambiguity in their more modern connotations?

(01-24-2020, 02:56 AM)Mark A Becker Wrote:  Hey duke-

I'm pretty rusty at offering crit but a couple things jumped out at me.

1- "this ancient" is an oddly archaic description of an old guy (like me) 
2- "this ancient thence" compounds the problem and seems to be a force in search of a rhyme 

This poem uses such language and turns-of-phrase that younger folks probably should not use - especially not if they want to relate to old guys (me again). 

I'd suggest worrying less about the rhyme scheme, and paying more attention to the story you're trying to tell.

Hope not too critical for "mild to moderate", but I was hoping for something to be better able to grab onto (or have grab on to me).

I see what you're going for, and hope you get there.
Thanks,
... Mark
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#11
.
Hi duke,
like the revision and the title change (though given the 'old-fashioned' feel
of the piece, you could just use the whole of the first line, couldn't you?).

Would it be worth presenting this as two five line verses? I think it would
allow for a more 'thoughtful' pause between 'each day?' and 'Or was he'.

Seen at a Gate

I passed an old man chipping at a gate
of iron, chiselling its coat of rust,
- not sure about 'coat' (there's usually something beneficial/protective
about a coat, isn't there?) and 'chiselling' just seems a repeat of 'chipping'.
of iron, scratching slowly at its rust ?
(If 'iron' isn't two syllables Smile perhaps 'wrought iron'?)
and wondered what had made that work his fate.
- and wondered what had brought about his fate.
Might it ... ?
Could it be failure, poverty he must
confront by taking menial jobs each day?
- maybe
confront through such piecemeal jobs each day ?

Or was he house-poor, working on his own
- perhaps 'struggling' for 'working'? (You've had 'work' already).
dear residence because he couldn’t pay
- maybe 'prized' for 'dear'?
a younger laborer, so scraped alone?
- if you can stand it, 'toiled' for 'scraped'? Smile
That place was grand: no meaner home, like mine,
has fences so demanding or so fine.



Best, Knot.



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