A Familiar Cliff…

18 August 2011


As a child I looked up at your face
And saw you jagged and so sheer
I felt your cold and empty embrace
But your standing I revered

Growing up your shadow only cast
Caverned wounds deep in my face
Your height forged a void so vast
Your presence only left more space

Older I stood at your base
Ready to rise and tower you
Challenging to climb your face
Your hollow rock stayed unsubdued

Ageing as you crumbled down
Plague inside did grow at pace
Sinking in the earthly brown
I couldn’t bear to see your face

~ Submitted to dVerse Poets Meeting the Bar: Critique and Craft

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20 Responses to “A Familiar Cliff…”

  1. As a child I looked up at your face
    And saw you jagged and so sheer
    I felt your cold and empty embrace
    But your standing I did revere

    Growing up your shadow only cast
    Searing wounds across my face
    Your height forged a void so vast
    Your presence only begot space

    Older I did walk to your base
    Seemingly to tower you
    Challenging to climb your face
    Your hollow rock stayed unsubdued

    Ageing as you crumbled down
    Misfootsteps can’t be retraced
    Sinking into the earth brown
    I couldn’t bear to see your face

    This seems to be about the relationship you had with a parent, I’m guessing father. From the viewpoint of a child, looking up and feeling tiny in comparison initially. You’ve conveyed the gap between you well, no sense of intimacy here, or affection from the parent. Only in the first stanza is there a sense of some bond, but just one way, from you, then as you grew up the space between you grew.

    Some of the words you have used, mainly at the end of the lines don’t work so well, and I think you’ve chosen these words as they rhyme. I think you’ve sacrificed using a more appropriate word for the sake of rhyming. For instance;

    ‘revere’ it doesn’t work grammatically at the end of the line.
    ‘But your standing I revered’ would work better.

    ‘your presence only begot space’ -‘begot’ doesn’t work here
    your presence only created space – would work better

    3rd stanza, ‘base’ is this the right word for what you want to say? It’s a bit vague and the only reason I can see it’s there is to rhyme with ‘face’. Repeating ‘to’ in the next line weakens it. Also ‘unsubdued’ makes the last line clumsy. If I may, just a suggestion:

    Older, I walked to your side,
    seemingly to tower over you.
    Challenging that distant hide.
    Your hollow rock stayed hewn.

    Last stanza, only words seems out of place are ‘misfootsteps’ and ‘retraced’ They are clumsy and is too complicated in that line. If I may?

    Ageing as you crumbled down,
    shuffling steps, slowing pace.
    Sinking into that earthly brown,
    I couldn’t bear to see your face.

    I like the way the start of your first lines tell the story of growing up from a child, then growing older. The last stanza has your father ageing, no longer the Cliff, but a precepice. The theme and subject of this poem is touching and you’ve written it from a deep place. It deserves more attention to the words so it doesn’t appear stilted upon reading. Unusual words only work when they are put in context of the whole line or couple of lines. You express yourself well and it’s worth working on a piece to get it just right.

    • Pervagus said

      WOW! 😯 Firstly thank you so much Avril for taking the time to read and critique my poem so insightfully. I am truly grateful.

      You are correct, I wrote this about my father, my life with him and his death from cancer.

      What you have to say about sacrificing more appropriate words for rhyme makes a lot of sense. I still find it funny how I only see that when it’s pointed out. I will work more on the wording, and if I may, I’ll steal most of your suggestions πŸ™‚

      When I did the first draft of this, I did say “created” instead of “begot” but it seemed one syllable too long, but will probably change it back to “created”.

      The “base” of the third stanza is deliberate, not only for it rhyming with “face”, but with the idea that I travelled to the “base of the cliff” ready to climb it, but I’ll rethink that if it comes across vague.

      Yes I will definitely re-work this. It’s the first time I’ve actually written anything like this (in terms of subject matter), so thank you again. Your comments and suggestions already have been and will be of great help! πŸ˜€

  2. I have to say there is some genuine and moving poems in the bar this evening – and so far i feel everyone has really hit the prompt target with real skill – Your Poem is outstanding in my eyes – i lived thru the piece as it developed and it truly gripped me perhaps due to the subject which i think you broke down the reality of and reassembled poetically, very well.

    Melancholic in all the right spaces

    Thankyou

    • Pervagus said

      Thanks Arron. A tough write for me, as this is really not something I ever thought to write about, so your kind words and understanding of the poem are very gratifying. Thank you.

  3. Kim Nelson said

    You hit it out of the park, your message clear and strong. I’d change nothing.

    • Pervagus said

      Thanks for your lovely comment Kim. Home runs and Sixes are not normally my kind of thing. Have changed a few things though, as I did think it could be better, as suggested by Avril. Still a WIP, but thanks for reading and commenting πŸ™‚

  4. brian said

    the distance between parent and child has never been so beautiful and aching…some stark words used that really drive this hope…yeah i was enchanted as well…great use of words…

  5. Very clever and well presented. A great image of child and parent.

    http://henryclemmons.wordpress.com/2011/08/18/red-petals/

  6. Baishali said

    very touching … i loved it.

    • Pervagus said

      Thank you so much Baishali. Happy that you enjoyed it. Last comment reply now, so I’m off to read other people’s work. Thanks for stopping by πŸ™‚

  7. Claudia said

    i feel a lot of sadness in this…the gap between parent and child…and sounds like there never was a bridge to really find a way…you have conveyed this with raw emotion and in a very effective way..i like your poem a lot pervagus

  8. I liked the way your poem sings and the verbiage is mostly smooth. Also, using words that are not very modern is a challenge and I like seeing it reminds me of classical styles. I hate for good words to be forgotten. I felt your duality in the metaphor between a mountain and your father seemingly large persona. Thank you I have enjoyed reading your writing.

    • Pervagus said

      Thank you for reading and commenting Sharon. I too relish good words, and like including them in what I write, though I am often guilty on choosing them for their own sake, thus demeaning what I write overall sometimes. Verbiage is something I should avoid.

  9. the imagery is vivid and well-put. i love reading your stuff

  10. I too sensed a father from the start, towering casting shadows, immense.

    It must’ve been hard to lose him from cancer. I cannot imagine what that is like.

    May you create and beget cliffs that can be climbed with ease, and always from love. The best is yet to come for all of us, I do believe.

    • Pervagus said

      Thanks Jannie. Loved your last line of comment πŸ™‚ You paint such a great picture. Yes let’s create and beget, for you are right: the best is yet to come!

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