Pursuit edit4
#1
Pursuit
 
Rowing is obsession,

a Sisyphean task; 

this pursuit of perfection.

 
Through ache and blister we struggle,

pushing past ourselves,

stretching the laws of physics.

 
We long for the elusive symbiosis

of mind, carbon, and sinew.

Many becoming one, resplendent.

 
Tho’ merely a house of cards

against which wind and wave conspire,

each catch a chance at redemption.

 
This trial and tribulation

to what possible end;

the finish line, a medal?


What better measure of us,

than a friend’s laughter heard across the water;

a blue heron caught in flight on a misty morning.


A fool’s errand from the start,

Plato’s dream; conceived in mind’s eye,
can only be realized in the heart.

What is rowing but obsession,
a sisyphean task, 
this pursuit of perfection.
 
Through ache and blister we struggle.
Each stroke a house of cards
against which wind and wave conspire
to keep us from our destination.

 
Seduced by the promise of the new,
Each catch a resurrection,
we long for the elusive symbiosis
of mind, carbon, and sinew.
 
In pursuit of transcendent motion
we push past ourselves,
stretching the laws of physics.
Many becoming one, resplendent.
 
This trial and tribulation
to what possible end;
the finish line, a medal, 
the adoration of family and friends?
 
Can the struggle be our salvation?
A friend’s laughter across the water;
a blue heron caught in flight on a misty morning
is a better measure of us.
 
This pursuit of perfection, it seems,
a fool’s errand from the start.
Plato’s dream, conceived in mind’s eye,
can only be realized in the heart.





What is rowing but obsession,

a sisyphean task, 

the pursuit of perfection.

 

Through ache and blister we struggle.

Each stroke a house of cards

against which wind and wave conspire

to keep us from our destination.

 

Seduced by the promise of the new,

we long for the elusive symbiosis 

of mind, carbon, and sinew.

 

If lucky, many become one, resplendent.    

Pushing past ourselves,

stretching the laws of physics

in pursuit of transcendent motion.

 

This trial and tribulation

to what possible end;

the finish line, a medal, 

the adoration of family and friends?

 

Maybe our destination is something else?          

Hearing a friend’s laughter across the water;

a blue heron caught in flight on a misty morning

are a better measure of us.

 

This pursuit of perfection, it seems,

a fool’s errand from the start.

Plato’s dream, conceived in mind’s eye,
can only be realized in the heart.

 

What is rowing but obsession,

a sisyphean task bound to fail,

a compulsion, this pursuit of perfection.

 

Through ache and blister we struggle.

Each stroke a house of cards

against which wind and wave conspire

to keep us from our destination.

 

Seduced by the promise of each new stroke,

still, we pursue,

to make the whole greater than its parts.

An elusive symbiosis of mind, carbon, and sinew.

 

If lucky, many become one, resplendent,

laws of physics bound.

We push past ourselves

in pursuit of motion transcendent.

 

This trial and tribulation;

to what end, this pursuit of perfection?

For the finish line, a medal, 

the adoration of family and friends?

 

Maybe our destination is something else?

A friend’s laughter across the water;

a Blue Heron caught in flight on a misty morning

are a better measure of us.

 

This pursuit of perfection, it seems,

a fool’s errand from the start.

Plato’s dream, conceived in mind’s eye,

can only be realized in the heart.



The struggle is our salvation.
The journey our destination.





Pursuit

 

What is rowing but obsession,

a sisyphean task bound to fail,

a compulsion, this pursuit of perfection.

 

Through ache and blister we struggle.

Each stroke a house of cards

against which wind and wave conspire

to keep us from our destination.

 

Seduced by the promise of each new stroke,

still, we pursue,

to make the whole greater than its parts.

An elusive symbiosis of mind, carbon, and sinew.

 

If lucky, many become one, resplendent,

laws of physics bound.

We push past ourselves

in pursuit of motion transcendent.

 

This trial and tribulation;

to what end, this pursuit of perfection?

For the finish line, a medal, 

the adoration of family and friends?

 

Maybe our destination is something else?

A friend’s laughter across the water;

a Blue Heron caught in flight on a misty morning

are a better measure of us.

 

This pursuit of perfection, it seems,

a fool’s errand from the start.

Plato’s dream, conceived in mind’s eye,

can only be realized in the heart.



The struggle is our salvation.

The journey our destination.


I didn't go full Knot but I trimmed and rearranged a good bit.  Haven't been able to get rid of the last stanza though!
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#2
(05-11-2022, 10:10 AM)brynmawr1 Wrote:  Pursuit
 
What is rowing but obsession,
a sisyphean task bound to fail,
a compulsion, this pursuit of perfection.
 
Through ache and blister we struggle.
Each stroke a house of cards
against which wind and wave conspire
to keep us from our destination.                             great lines
 
Seduced by the promise of each new stroke,
still, we pursue,
to make the whole greater than its parts.                         is there another way to say this?  it's something of a cliche.
An elusive symbiosis of mind, carbon, and sinew.
 
If lucky, many become one, resplendent,
laws of physics bound.                                                   this line confuses me a bit; seems like, though bound by laws of physics, you are also bending them, challenging them
We push past ourselves
in pursuit of motion transcendent.
 
This trial and tribulation;
to what end, this pursuit of perfection?
For the finish line, a medal, 
the adoration of family and friends?
 
Maybe our destination is something else?
A friend’s laughter across the water;
a Blue Heron caught in flight on a misty morning
are a better measure of us.                                                  by far my favorite line in the poem (don't think blue heron needs to be in caps though)
 
This pursuit of perfection, it seems,
a fool’s errand from the start.
Plato’s dream, conceived in mind’s eye,
can only be realized in the heart.

The struggle is our salvation.
The journey our destination.                               I feel like these lines are unnecessary, and ending with the above stanza would be better.

This is a really nice one, Bryn.  A few notes, but overall, very compelling.
“All persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.”  Kurt Vonnegut
Reply
#3
Hi Bryn, good concept that you've got here. However I think that your need to rhyme at times (and at others not) distracts from otherwise good lines. For example I like the idea of being 'in pursuit of transcendent motion' however you have it as 'in pursuit of motion transcendent' for the sake of the rhyme. This happens on a few occasions and because at times I didn't notice the rhyme then I feel it would be best to leave it for the sake of the poem.

There is a lot of repetition without need 'each stroke' 'each new stroke' and several mentions of 'pursuit of perfection', if these could be trimmed it would help. 

Also watch out for redundancy  

What is rowing but obsession,
a sisyphean task bound to fail,
a compulsion, this pursuit of perfection.


an obsession and compulsion could be classed as the same and technically i suppose a 'sisyphean task' is a task that is bound to fail.

The blue heron line is beautiful and makes the poem for me.

Everything is there, you just need a wee bit trimming.

Cheers for the read.
feedback award wae aye man ye radgie
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#4
What is rowing but obsession,
a sisyphean task, 
the pursuit of perfection?      period?   change "the" to "a"?
 
Through ache and blister we struggle.
Each stroke a house of cards
against which wind and wave conspire
to keep us from our destination.
 
Seduced by the promise of the new,
we long for the elusive symbiosis      struggle, reach, pine,....suggestions?
of mind, carbon, and sinew.
 
If lucky, many become one, resplendent.      have never liked this as it isn't luck that get us there
Pushing past ourselves,
stretching the laws of physics
in pursuit of transcendent motion.
 
This trial and tribulation
to what possible end;
the finish line, a medal, 
the adoration of family and friends?
 
Maybe our destination is something else?            "different", maybe?
Hearing a friend’s laughter across the water;
the blue heron caught in flight on a misty morning     keep the "a"?
are a better measure of us.
 
This pursuit of perfection, it seems,
a fool’s errand from the start.
Plato’s dream, conceived in mind’s eye,
can only be realized in the heart.

Pursuit

 
What is rowing but obsession,
a sisyphean task bound to fail,
a compulsion, this pursuit of perfection.
 
Through ache and blister we struggle.
Each stroke a house of cards
against which wind and wave conspire
to keep us from our destination.
 
Seduced by the promise of each new stroke,
still, we pursue,
to make the whole greater than its parts.
An elusive symbiosis of mind, carbon, and sinew.
 
If lucky, many become one, resplendent,
laws of physics bound.
We push past ourselves
in pursuit of motion transcendent.
 
This trial and tribulation;
to what end, this pursuit of perfection?
For the finish line, a medal, 
the adoration of family and friends?
 
Maybe our destination is something else?
A friend’s laughter across the water;
a Blue Heron caught in flight on a misty morning
are a better measure of us.
 
This pursuit of perfection, it seems,
a fool’s errand from the start.
Plato’s dream, conceived in mind’s eye,
can only be realized in the heart.

The struggle is our salvation.
The journey our destination.




Not sure how to put in previous version.  still trying to figure out the formatting.  

Thank you for your time and input.  I have tried to incorporate your ideas in the version above.  I have also highlighted a few things that I am still pondering over.  As I am sure you know, the repetition was for the rhythm of it (and rowing is rather repetitive) but it was something I was conscious of and not sure about so I have tried to trim it down.  Getting rid of the last two lines was painful because they represent the idea that I built the poem around from the start.  The original last stanza read

Plato's dream, conceived in mind's eye,
can only be realized in the heart;
for the struggle is our salvation,
the journey is our destination.

Thanks again!
Reply
#5
Here's a thread about hiding previous versions  http://www.pigpenpoetry.com/thread-19301.html
feedback award wae aye man ye radgie
Reply
#6
(05-12-2022, 08:34 AM)brynmawr1 Wrote:  What is rowing but obsession,
a sisyphean task, 
the pursuit of perfection?      period?   change "the" to "a"?  I think a period.  You've answered your own question.  And leave it at "the".
 
Through ache and blister we struggle.
Each stroke a house of cards
against which wind and wave conspire
to keep us from our destination.
 
Seduced by the promise of the new,
we long for the elusive symbiosis      struggle, reach, pine,....suggestions?  I personally like "long".
of mind, carbon, and sinew.
 
If lucky, many become one, resplendent.      have never liked this as it isn't luck that get us there.   I'd leave out "If lucky"
Pushing past ourselves,
stretching the laws of physics
in pursuit of transcendent motion.
 
This trial and tribulation
to what possible end;
the finish line, a medal, 
the adoration of family and friends?
 
Maybe our destination is something else?            "different", maybe?  I think whichever sounds best to your ear.
Hearing a friend’s laughter across the water;
the blue heron caught in flight on a misty morning     keep the "a"?  Yes
are a better measure of us.                                          is
 
This pursuit of perfection, it seems,
a fool’s errand from the start.
Plato’s dream, conceived in mind’s eye,
can only be realized in the heart.



 Getting rid of the last two lines was painful because they represent the idea that I built the poem around from the start.  The original last stanza read

Plato's dream, conceived in mind's eye,
can only be realized in the heart;
for the struggle is our salvation,
the journey is our destination.

My feeling is that "the journey is our destination" has been said before.  (Previous line doesn't feel that way.)  But it's your poem and these are just one person's ideas.  Perhaps others will contribute.  The poem deserves multiple critiques.  Your poems are advanced enough in my reading that you might consider posting them in "Mild to Moderate".  You might get more feedback.  Or just wait a bit longer so people have more time to consider them.
“All persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.”  Kurt Vonnegut
Reply
#7
(05-12-2022, 02:23 PM)ambrosial revelation Wrote:  Here's a thread about hiding previous versions  http://www.pigpenpoetry.com/thread-19301.html

Thanks!
Reply
#8
(05-13-2022, 01:18 AM)TranquillityBase Wrote:  
(05-12-2022, 08:34 AM)brynmawr1 Wrote:  What is rowing but obsession,
a sisyphean task, 
the pursuit of perfection?      period?   change "the" to "a"?  I think a period.  You've answered your own question.  And leave it at "the".
 
Through ache and blister we struggle.
Each stroke a house of cards
against which wind and wave conspire
to keep us from our destination.
 
Seduced by the promise of the new,
we long for the elusive symbiosis      struggle, reach, pine,....suggestions?  I personally like "long".
of mind, carbon, and sinew.
 
If lucky, many become one, resplendent.      have never liked this as it isn't luck that get us there.   I'd leave out "If lucky"
Pushing past ourselves,
stretching the laws of physics
in pursuit of transcendent motion.
 
This trial and tribulation
to what possible end;
the finish line, a medal, 
the adoration of family and friends?
 
Maybe our destination is something else?            "different", maybe?  I think whichever sounds best to your ear.
Hearing a friend’s laughter across the water;
the blue heron caught in flight on a misty morning     keep the "a"?  Yes
are a better measure of us.                                          is
 
This pursuit of perfection, it seems,
a fool’s errand from the start.
Plato’s dream, conceived in mind’s eye,
can only be realized in the heart.



 Getting rid of the last two lines was painful because they represent the idea that I built the poem around from the start.  The original last stanza read

Plato's dream, conceived in mind's eye,
can only be realized in the heart;
for the struggle is our salvation,
the journey is our destination.

My feeling is that "the journey is our destination" has been said before.  (Previous line doesn't feel that way.)  But it's your poem and these are just one person's ideas.  Perhaps others will contribute.  The poem deserves multiple critiques.  Your poems are advanced enough in my reading that you might consider posting them in "Mild to Moderate".  You might get more feedback.  Or just wait a bit longer so people have more time to consider them.
>"
Hi Tranq,
Thanks again for your thoughts and encouraging words.  By the previous line do you mean "...struggle is our salvation."?  I could just remove the journey line?  I'll have to think on it.  I don't like the "If lucky" but it feels awkward to me without anything.  Another to ponder!
Reply
#9
Bumping this thread because it has been relocated. Please be sure all future critiques are appropriate for this forum. Thumbsup

Thank you!
—Quix
The Soufflé isn’t the soufflé; the soufflé is the recipe. --Clara 
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#10
I wrote this poem for a boat dedication ceremony honoring my wife this coming Sunday. I am going to read it aloud so any final suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks for all of the help offered so far.

Bryn
Reply
#11
Hi brynmawr1.

Bit late to the party, but I bring scissors.
I think this is rather overwritten (and I'm not sure how well it reads, aloud)
but I think there's a really nice piece that's struggling to find it's way out.

So, mindfull of you deadling, and taking a bit of a liberty ...


What is rowing but obsession?
A Sisyphean task,

pursuit of perfection.
through ache and blister.

Hour upon hour.

Each stroke a house of cards *
against which wind and wave conspire

Each catch a resurrection,
we push past ourselves,

hour upon hour.

A friend’s laughter across the water;
a blue heron caught in flight

in harmony, on misty mornings,
what better measure of us is there?

What better way to spend the hours?




*I like this couplet, but I think the house of cards image ill-suited to the context.  Is there something (like 'catch'), a term specific to rowing, that might replace it?



Good luck with the ceremony.


Best, Knot

.
Reply
#12
(05-17-2022, 09:24 PM)Knot Wrote:  Hi brynmawr1.

Bit late to the party, but I bring scissors.
I think this is rather overwritten (and I'm not sure how well it reads, aloud)
but I think there's a really nice piece that's struggling to find it's way out.

So, mindfull of you deadling, and taking a bit of a liberty ...


What is rowing but obsession?
A Sisyphean task,

pursuit of perfection.
through ache and blister.

Hour upon hour.

Each stroke a house of cards *
against which wind and wave conspire

Each catch a resurrection,
we push past ourselves,

hour upon hour.

A friend’s laughter across the water;
a blue heron caught in flight

in harmony, on misty mornings,
what better measure of us is there?

What better way to spend the hours?




*I like this couplet, but I think the house of cards image ill-suited to the context.  Is there something (like 'catch'), a term specific to rowing, that might replace it?



Good luck with the ceremony.


Best, Knot

.

Hi Knot,

You did bring scissors.  And they are sharp!  I see where you are going and like the cleanliness.  I am going to have to spend time going over it with your thoughts in mind.  Regarding the term stroke.  The stroke refers to the entire cycle, while the catch is only one part (there are four-catch, drive, finish, recovery).  Catch would be ok but doesn't quite fit technically.  I really like the suggestion of "what better..." though I might leave off the "is there".
As always, thanks for your time and efforts.
bryn
Reply
#13
.
Hi bryn.


It wasn't stroke but 'house of cards' that gave me pause. The meaning is basically 'something that must inevitably fail due to it's poor foundations', and I was struggling to see how that applied (still am!) How does/will the stroke fail?


though I might leave off the "is there".
Your poem, after all Smile I did think there was something pleasing about have a question there though (especially given this is something you intend to read aloud to an audience.)


You might want to revisit the 'misty morning', I don't think it fares that well against the excellent 'blue heron' or the 'friend's laughter'.


Best, Knot


.
Reply
#14
(05-18-2022, 01:00 AM)Knot Wrote:  .
Hi bryn.


It wasn't stroke but 'house of cards' that gave me pause. The meaning is basically 'something that must inevitably fail due to it's poor foundations', and I was struggling to see how that applied (still am!) How does/will the stroke fail?


though I might leave off the "is there".
Your poem, after all Smile I did think there was something pleasing about have a question there though (especially given this is something you intend to read aloud to an audience.)


You might want to revisit the 'misty morning', I don't think it fares that well against the excellent 'blue heron' or the 'friend's laughter'.


Best, Knot


.
Knot,

The 'metaphor works, for me, because the stroke only works if all the parts (of the stroke and rowers working together) are balanced so the boat stays set in the water and moves with the best efficiency.  It actually takes very little disturbance in that relationship to suck the energy from the boat's momentum.   I would also argue that failure isn't inevitable, the situation merely precarious.  I appreciate the discussion!
bryn
Reply
#15
.
Hi bryn.

That's the trouble with metaphors, everyone can interpret them how they wish.
Given your description, you're talking about 'equilibrium' aren't you?  So perhaps that's a word to consider?

Speaking as 'the scissors guy' I think you could still cut further.

Through ache and blister we struggle,
pushing past ourselves, ................................ the poetry (to me) is in this line.  The next four that follow don't add (and therefore subtract)
to (from) it.
stretching the laws of physics.

We long for the elusive symbiosis
of mind, carbon, and sinew.
Many becoming one, resplendent.

There's a clarity (and beauty) to this

Rowing is obsession,
a Sisyphean task;
pursuit of perfection
pushing past ourselves,
through ache and blister
and the cold (place/river name) water

which gets lost amongst the verbiage.

I don't think the rhetorical

This trial and tribulation
to what possible end;
the finish line, a medal?

is that interesting.  Especially as you go on to

What better measure of us,
than a friend’s laughter heard across the water;
a blue heron caught in flight on a misty morning.

Still really like these lines, but could you make them more specific?  Might 'water' be a particular river/lake/whatever, and 'a misty morning' be a misty morning in some named place?
I don't know where you are but,

than a friend's laughter heard across the Charles

(as a for instance) would be a little more resonant, than the current formulation
(and you have an audience to consider.)


As to that last verse.  Pleasing I found this

https://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2000/2000.10.14

while trying to understand what you mean by 'Plato's Dream' (something about a swan?)
But I digress.  I think the problem is that 'what better measure' is simply a stronger (and clearer) ending.  The start/heart rhyme makes this verse feel a little bit too ... greetings card.  Yeah, apologies.


All that said, how does the piece sound to your ear when you read it aloud?


Best, Knot

.
Reply
#16
Knot Wrote:.
Hi bryn.

That's the trouble with metaphors, everyone can interpret them how they wish.
Given your description, you're talking about 'equilibrium' aren't you?  So perhaps that's a word to consider?

Speaking as 'the scissors guy' I think you could still cut further.

Through ache and blister we struggle,
pushing past ourselves, ................................ the poetry (to me) is in this line.  The next four that follow don't add (and therefore subtract)
to (from) it.
stretching the laws of physics.

We long for the elusive symbiosis
of mind, carbon, and sinew.                                  The idea of blending into one motion is very prevalent in rowing literally and metaphorically.
Many becoming one, resplendent.

There's a clarity (and beauty) to this

Rowing is obsession,
a Sisyphean task;
pursuit of perfection                                          I like this arrangement
pushing past ourselves,
through ache and blister
and the cold (place/river name) water              our breath frosty on a cold winter morning.

which gets lost amongst the verbiage.

I don't think the rhetorical

This trial and tribulation
to what possible end;                                         Trying to use it to set up the next lines.  The main theme of the original is that we go through all this for what, a stupid medal?
the finish line, a medal?

is that interesting.  Especially as you go on to

What better measure of us,
than a friend’s laughter heard across the water;
a blue heron caught in flight on a misty morning.                      "...flight on a misty Schuylkill morning."

Still really like these lines, but could you make them more specific?  Might 'water' be a particular river/lake/whatever, and 'a misty morning' be a misty morning in some named place?
I don't know where you are but,

than a friend's laughter heard across the Charles

(as a for instance) would be a little more resonant, than the current formulation
(and you have an audience to consider.)


As to that last verse.  Pleasing I found this                  Plato thought that everything in our reality existed in its perfect form conceptually, almost as on another plane of existence

https://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2000/2000.10.14

while trying to understand what you mean by 'Plato's Dream' (something about a swan?)
But I digress.  I think the problem is that 'what better measure' is simply a stronger (and clearer) ending.  The start/heart rhyme makes this verse feel a little bit too ... greetings card.  Yeah, apologies.                    No worries Smile  I am aware of the sudden rhyme at the end.  figured that would catch someone's attention.  again goes back to my original thesis but getting less relevant with the edits.


All that said, how does the piece sound to your ear when you read it aloud?  I like it.  I feel that a lot of the extra metaphors will mean more to the audience of rowers that others so I am tempted to keep them even though they might not seem to add directly.  Have you read it aloud?


Best, Knot

Thanks again.  I will continue on my own Sisyphean journey!
Reply
#17
.
Hi bryn.

The idea of blending into one motion is very prevalent in rowing literally and metaphorically
You're the expert Smile  My question would be how necessary is the idea to the poem (don't over crowd the piece trying to fit everything in.)

I like this arrangement
Trick is to keep playing with arrangements, until the right one shows up.

our breath frosty on a cold winter morning.
Not sure, depends on 'our' I think, you'd have to be moving through the breath of the person seated behind you, wouldn't you?
Actually, since you're here, what's with 'pushing', don't rowers pull?

Trying to use it to set up the next lines.  The main theme of the original is that we go through all this for what, a stupid medal?
Right, this might be one part that's more relevant to your audience than it is to the general reader.  But you've some really good stuff in this piece, and something as clichéd as 'trial and tribulation' is a bit disappointing.
             
"...flight on a misty Schuylkill morning."
it's the right idea, but where might the heron be?  Been wandering around on wiki and you've some fantastic names associated with the river. A particular favourite was the 'Strawberry Mansion Bridge' but there's Fairmount Park and ... well a long list.  Where does the rowing take place, along which stretch of the river? As a general reader, I'd like to have more of a sense of place.

Plato thought that everything in our reality existed in its perfect form conceptually, almost as on another plane of existence
Ah, Platonic Forms?  It's 'dream' that leads one astray then (as it turns out he had a dream where he turned into a swan.)

No worries Smile  I am aware of the sudden rhyme at the end.  figured that would catch someone's attention.
I certainly caught mine, just not in a good way Smile

I feel that a lot of the extra metaphors will mean more to the audience of rowers that others so I am tempted to keep them even though they might not seem to add directly.
Good point. The balance between the needs of the poem and that of the audience.

Have you read it aloud?
Yes (since you said that you intended to do so), though your introduction of  Schuylkill is going to give me pause.  The pronunciation's something like 'skool kil' (apparently)?
As it stands it's phrases like elusive symbiosis, Many becoming one, house of cards,  trial and tribulation - that trip me up (verbally).
It's all the fault of the 'better measure' verse.  That's the standard you have to live up to.

My suggestion would be something like this for the opening

Rowing is obsession,
a Sisyphean task;
pursuit of perfection

pulling past ourselves,
through ache and blister
and the cold Schuylkill water.



Now, don't let the boulder(s) grind you down.


Best, Knot



.
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