Hi River,
many thanks for the detailed critique. Much appreciated.
(Still no explanation for the variable type,)

Never encountered it spelled "Grethel" before. Any reason why you chose it?
It was just how it's spelled in my copy of Grimm's.

The punctuation is a little wonky. "Don't worry" in the first two sections should probably be with ' than with ".
No, the whole thing, with the exception of the penultimate line, is her speaking (that line is Hansel).

Second section 'could be worse' is out of place -- it's all good until they got caught, and even then it could have been they got caught by a willing host.
Precisely, at that point they don't know the 'host' is a witch so Hansel is able to reassure with the refrain.

Fourth section: "aflame"? Also, I feel that line could end in a colon, and the following line a full stop.
I agree it's not the perfect solution, but I needed a reference to the witch's eyes being red, one that could be overlooked, and this is the best I could find.

I prefer "stench" to "reek" -- while "reek" rhymes, I've encountered it more as a verb, while stench sort of ties to "scream", "spit", and "sweetness".
I still vacillating on this. The advantage with reek is etymological, stench, as you point out, continues the s theme. Latest version is
and everywhere her reeking flesh,
a bitterness made sweet in death.

I kinda need to know where they are. What the immediate context of the conversation is. Are they in the woods? Are they still in the cottage? And how about their bodies? Are Gretel's hands still burnt? Is her face covered in ashes? What about Hansel makes him so mute here -- was he humbled? Was he an Isaac, a supporting character in his own story? Did he even pay attention to Gretel during her speech? Lots of good questions Smile
Good questions indeed. Starting in reverse, sort of. Why do you say 'in his own story'? It may be 'his' at the start, (though I would contend they are both abandoned equally) - he collects the pebbles and leads them back home the first time they, but once his breadcrumb trail is eaten by birds he makes little (if any) meaningful contribution to their rescue. He even wants to (and this is a great phrase to be able to use) overload a duck on their way home. Smile There's a reason that this is titled Grethel.
As to the 'immediate context'. There was no deliberate intent to make the 'present' ambiguous', simply that there aren't that many possible times this exchange could have occurred. To my mind they are somewhere between leaving the witches cottage and the duck. An interval sufficient for Grethel to decide that, given all she's experienced, she will no longer blindly follow (the optimistic) Hansel. In the story they leave the cottage, come across a river (and persuade a duck to take them across, this despite the fact that they crossed no bodies of water on the way to the witches cottage) and then 'with a hop, skip and a jump' (or words to that effect) arrive home.
Would changing L3 to - to die alone here in the woods - help?

Best, Knot

on "Don't worry": the problem is that the "Don't worry" of the third section, along with all the speeches Grethel herself quotes, is quoted 'as such'.

on the questions to the questions:
i say in his own story cuz it's traditionally 'Hansel and Gretel'. but i dig your emphasis on gretel's story.
line 3 change might help. just to wit, in something like 'My Last Duchess', despite being all speech, the speaker gestures to things and actions in the room, which really grounds the piece, really helps me get into the speaker's world. the change you propose is what's needed, and hopefully it's enough.
Hi River,
thanks for returning (and for the introduction to 'My Last Duchess', new to me - not sure what you mean by 'in the room', as far as I could tell that would be a curtian, a chair (by inference), the adressee and a piece of bronze sculpture. Everything else is in the painting the speaker is describing/referring to. - and I enjoyed my first encounter with it.)
I'll change L4 forthwith.
Thanks again.

Best, Knot



* etc, deleted.

L4, 'here' added, 'deep' deleted.  (As per River Smile )

L11, 'For' added.

L16, 'we might have stole that house to rubble' replaced.

L23, 'You' added.

L24, 'A' replaced 'The'.

L32, 'catch' replaced 'on'

L37/8, and everywhere the reek of meat,
          roasting to an awful sweetness." replaced.


This is less poetry and more prose/dialogue. A simple re-stating of the H&G story the only thing not from the original story is the insertion of the "it could be worse" phrase, which is only there to set up the punchline at the end: a long time to wait and little punch. Otherwise I don't really see the point. You've written much better. Having an off day? Smile


How long after picking up the brush, the first masterpiece?

The goal is not to obfuscate that which is clear, but make clear that which isn't.

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