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» The Ornery American Forum » Ornery Writers Workshop » "Towers of Babble", by Pete (Original & Updated Versions) (mythological)

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Author Topic: "Towers of Babble", by Pete (Original & Updated Versions) (mythological)
Pete at Home
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For comments on "Towers of Babel" and the updated version "Towers of Babble" a concrete poem by Pete.(not religious or spiritual, just mythological)

(In case you've never read a concrete poem before, the shape is deliberate. Read by collumn.)

[ May 27, 2005, 12:04 PM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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WarrsawPact
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I liked it quite a bit -- my mind's been on Babel recently (ah, Genesis 11...) and the structure was sound. Superb... especially when you finally introduced the gibberish part.
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Richard Dey
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Tower of Babel

Joined /
at a base --/
a long ways down, -/-/
two stony stumps //-/ (?)
claw stupidly at the sun -/--/-/ 11

Once We built skywards /--/-
We lifted boulders -/-/-
We piled them Together -/--/-
onto One climbing tower --//-/-
while gods of wind and sky-/-/-/
tasted terror at Our climb.--/---/ 14

Apart, -/
beneath the stars -/-/
I set my stones -/-/
on what I call my tower --/-//-
You, on whatever you call yours. /-//-/-/ 13

I shake My fist at the singing sky -/-/--/-/
You shoot Your arrows -/-/-
into a dancing cloud ---/-/
while wind whistles emptiness -/--/-/
between two towers -/-//
across an endless gulf of gibberish. -/-/-/-/-/ 19

Well, rarely to do a I praise the pathetic fallacy (stumps claw, gods ... taste terror, singing sky, dancing cloud, whistling winds), but certainly that is what the Tower of Babel was built on!

Technically,

ways is colloquial to no effect SR way

The 5/6/5/6 stazas do not scan and, most awkwardly, stresses fall on weak syllables -- which, I suppose, is a way of showing that it did not span and, thus, collapsed. However, the Babylonians were not shoddy builders; they just didn't have highly fired load-bearing brick. It was no Taj Mahal, apparently, but the sentiments were the same.

The image is excellent (especially the double columns of 4 stanzas). On the erratic meter, however, I am most dubious. The Tower was not slipshod, nor was it built by the naif. The meter ought to have flaws but they should stand out for the reader; a pattern of flaws in Flemish bond perhaps? Or one flaw in the same point of the meter in each stanza (better yet at the 'foundation' or end of each column, one where 'Our Climb' is, the other being 'gibberish').

There is a poem on the collapse of the nave at Beauvais similar to this -- and one 'flaw' I remember was the words 'built on faith' and another, the final one, was 'for the love of God' A very fine gothic puzzle it was, but can't remember who wrote it.

Perhaps the 2nd twin towers should be scanned and spanned to reflect such subtlety; I think they could stand long enough to make history (just to use the pathetic fallacy [Wink] ).

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Pete at Home
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You've captured the exact stylistic effect that I meant to convey, but it appears I've failed to convey the content [Frown]

This isn't the tower of babel -- that's the "base/ a long ways down."

Would my meaning be more clear if I changed the following [altered parts italicized]

top left stanza to:

Joined/at a mountainous base/not far below/two stony stumps/claw stupidly at the sun

top right stanza to:

Apart,/beneath the stars/I stack my pile of perfect bricks/You slather endless mortar on/ whatever you call that lump

I thought of having a structure beneath to show the perfection of the original (unfinished) tower beneath the slipshod claws, but the trouble is that the way you read a graphic poem, that would cause the poem to end on the perfect foundation, which is the opposite of what I want.

So given those changes, do you see what's happening? Let go of history; this is myth, which means it's about what people are now and have always been.

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Richard Dey
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Let me think on it ....
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Shane Roe
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Pete, though I'm not truly a poet at all, yours struck me with a thought-provoking depth. I did not know what it meant altogether, but was overwhelmed by the futility expressed. It read well, and I enjoyed it.

Shane

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Pete at Home
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Thank you, Shane.

So it looks like I've managed to convey
1. the futility and frustration of the speaker,
2. the shipshod broken nature of both towers
3. the fact that the two towers are broken in different ways, differently misshapen.

Sounds like I've gotten across the main themes, but not the meaning.

I need to work on the wording some more of the overall image -- better than joined at a mountainous base. To describe that these are smaller towers built on top of an all-but-abandoned unfinished tower.

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Shane Roe
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I did have images of the WTC towers flash through my mind--and the various plans to rebuild. I don't know if that was part of your meaning--but it triggered that response in me anyway.

Shane

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Pete at Home
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Oh gosh, no. I wrote that in the late 1990s, and just started to re-tool it.
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Pete at Home
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It's important to know that I'm triggering that response, though. Not sure what to do about it, if I could do anything with it, or if I should try to avoid it, or how.
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Pete at Home
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The twin towers does involve a clash between cultures and world views, and certainly a clash in communication based in vanity, so it is actually salient, but they don't diverge.

Through the lens of this poem, I guess that Bin Ladin's 9-11 destruction could be one of my towers, and our rebuilding would be the other tower. Remember what the purpose of the ToB was?

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Pete at Home
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OK, I've totally overhauled 80% of the poem based on this feedback. Some of the language is less evocative, but at least it's more clear, and I've altered the shape, and even renamed it.

For my first submission here, this process has been quite useful for me.

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RickyB
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I read it again, and I really liked it. Now you've gone and changed it? [Mad] As for the shape - yeah, pretty much impossible for an American (or anyone really) to think of "two towers" and not think of those two towers...

Very powerful imagery. And of course it's spiritual, just not missionary in any way [Smile]

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Pete at Home
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Thanks, Ricky. I just emailed you the updated renamed poem, "Towers of Babble." Please let me know if you liked the old version better.

If anyone else wants to see the new version, let me know; I'd love comments here. But I've got other poems I'd like feedback here, and know you guys keep the review limit to 2 a week.

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Richard Dey
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PaH: Send the new version to me please so I can compare them.
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Pete at Home
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Just sent and uploaded.
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Pete at Home
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Thanks for changing the name, KE.
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KnightEnder
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My pleasure. I emailed you about today's change, if that is not how you want it just let me know and I will change it to whatever you wish.

KE

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RickyB
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The new version is better. Sharper and even more evocative. Also the visual form is better. E.E. Woulda been proud [Smile]
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Pete at Home
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High praise, Ricky. Thanks. Does the story come through more clearly now, and has the Twin Towers image finally come out in the wash?
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RickyB
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Yes, the twin towers image no longer reminds one as strongly of the WTC. [Smile]
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Daruma28
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I like it....alot! And I don't really necessarily care for poetry much, but I found both versions clever. I think the revised version is better.

It brought a smile to my face. [Smile] Good job!

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Richard Dey
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I agree. The new form doesn't dominate the message -- which I think is where I misread it. I do wish you'd read it aloud to a group, and see if the scan is better. I've read it aloud and I think it is, but there are still some rough spots. Rhythm ? Hiawatha ? is the norm in poetry, and the broken line the stopper.
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Libertarian
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Ok, it's been suggested that the 'two towers' are the twin towers, but no one seems to think that it compares us Americans to the Babylonians. Do we worship a false god and sin with our materialism? Is Allah the Gods of wind and fire, more importantly are the fundamentalist suicide attacks his punishment? Like the Babylonians will we be wiped off the face of the earth?

Or am I (as I greatly suspect) just looking for imaginary symbolism that wasn't intended?

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RickyB
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Doesn't matter what's intended. Matters what you got out of it [Smile] But knowing Pete, I suspect the notions you suggest at least ocurred to him...Pete?
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by Libertarian:
Ok, it's been suggested that the 'two towers' are the twin towers, but no one seems to think that it compares us Americans to the Babylonians. Do we worship a false god and sin with our materialism? Is Allah the Gods of wind and fire, more importantly are the fundamentalist suicide attacks his punishment? Like the Babylonians will we be wiped off the face of the earth?

Or am I (as I greatly suspect) just looking for imaginary symbolism that wasn't intended?

Great stuff! I'd never seen it, but that doesn't mean it's not there. To me the poem shows the human condition, so if specific nations spring out of this, that means I've done it at least partially right. I see the Babel myth as the model for how vanity breaks down our ability to communicate with each other. Nations, cultures, interest groups, individuals, even man and wife, father and child. Those who vainly built the great tower to lay seige to Heaven could not complete their project, because their vanity destroyed their ability to communicate with each other. We can shake our fist at God, or at whatever gods we think are out there, but the fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves.

Hope I haven't ruined the poem for anyone. I really appreciate your feedback, and you've helped me make this a better poem. I'll keep checking here for more, and hope I can help you as well.

[ June 09, 2005, 07:13 PM: Message edited by: Pete at Home ]

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