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Discussing: Bitter Valentine's Day Poetry

Bitter Valentine's Day Poetry

We've had some fun ones already. Maeglin's sonnet to Idril, and a nice, dark sonnet from Túrin to Anglachel (the sword, not the tech support :-) ). Then there is the as yet unfinished saga of Fëanor's painfully inept poetry to Galadriel. Poor Galadriel.

Comments on poems? Put 'em here!

(As an amusing aside, none of you can beat the impromptu love poem thought up by a very inebriated colleague of mine as we were discussing the joys of Valentine's day (of course, it's more like "joys" since my friends here are mostly guys, and they were spending some serious cash this weekend). The winner of the worst Valentine's day rhyme *ever*, which has given me a benchmark for all future suitors' poetical attempts, is: "Girls are icky, but you're just sticky. Happy Valentine's Day!" A moment of silence, out of gratitude that none of us got that on a cute, unevenly cut out pink heart last Friday.)

 

 

Re: Bitter Valentine's Day Poetry

Let me get one thing off of my chest first:

Dwiiiiim! Ewwww! Ew, ew, ew, ew! Yech! Ick! General disgust! Oh, YUCK! You just undid all the work of any 'ficcer who's ever tried to make Wormtongue an even vaguely sympathetic character! If I never hear another mention of Grima's "sword" again it'll be too soon!

So I guess that's question 4 answered, at least.

I mean, this was honestly creepy. Good for you.

Now, as per request:

1 & 2: The rhythm and the rhyme both worked for me. The longer third sentence in each stanza threw me at first, but a few recitations aloud smoothed that out. I think it was more of a visual jolt than a fault with the pattern.

3: I personally think that Grima's initial listing of Eowyn's assets works. It's like a slow camera pan in his mind, traveling down the body he has laid out -- a helpless, unresisting object in his fantasy. Then he pauses at 'loins' and we go back to the...ew.

The second catalogue does feel a bit forced to me, mostly because the majority of the parts listed don't seem like the sort of thing someone spying/fantasizing would linger on (unless they had a fetish, of course). "Eyes", "breast", "flesh", and "groin" could certainly work (though groin has a masculine connotation in my mind), "fingers" and "flank" are iffy, and "bowels" and "ears" just come out of nowhere and really don't seem to fit. Perhaps some description of the sensual parts would work instead of listing more of them?

Anyway...I don't know if I enjoyed this in the traditional sense, but it certainly got a reaction. *shudder*

Take care,
Suzene

 

 

Re: Bitter Valentine's Day Poetry

Mua ha ha, squicked ya, did I? [Dwim does little happy dance and promptly falls over a pile of books] Ow.

Gríma and bowels: I was aiming for that "I know *all* of your parts, and you're mine, inside and out" feeling. He's in some sense dissecting her with the... um... "sword."

Would like to put out a general request, though:

If you or anyone here has a lot of words for parts of the human body, do e-mail me with a list of them. Or go over to my forum and leave them there in their own thread. Non-latinate words, btw, if possible--I don't think I can use "pinneal gland," for example, and likewise "cranium". The last verse is definitely the most forced part of the poem, but I like the idea of it and if I can get it to work, I'd like to keep it.

Thanks for the feedback. Maybe I'll bring Gríma to the next HA social function, eh? ;-)

 

 

Re: Bitter Valentine's Day Poetry

Mua ha ha, squicked ya, did I? [Dwim does little happy dance and promptly falls over a pile of books] Ow.

Heh. Well, just so you know, I'm really hard to squick. My reaction to this poem was much more, "ooo... wow. *shiver*"

I was aiming for that "I know *all* of your parts, and you're mine, inside and out" feeling.

I totally got the "I know all your parts, inside and out," feeling, but rather than "you're mine," I got, more of a ... um ... not quite, "I'm going to make you mine," but more, "I *could* make you mine... and perhaps I will," which to me is much more chilling.

I'm very impressed with this poem. There are a few things I'd say that might improve the flow a little:

Second stanza, second line, consider whether you need to begin it with "And", or whether it might work better starting with "Thy" - the "and" seems to me to throw the scantion off (is "scantion" a word? the rhythm).

Consider adding a bit more in the way of punctuation. I noticed it mostly at the end of the second line of each stanza - it's not that the meaning is unclear, but with no punctuation there, my impulse is to read the next line as a continuation of that one, regardless of capitalization. Ie, I'll read it as: "And thy throat so white, that catches whimpers knowest thou not that sword seeks lodging there first, robs tongue of speech?" rather than "And thy throat so white, that catches whimpers; knowest thou not that sword seeks lodging there first, robs tongue of speech?" which I think is what you meant. (If you do choose to remove "and" from the above-mentioned line, consider also some punctuation at the end of the previous line - "and" breaks it nicely, but "thy" I suspect won't.)

As for the problematic last stanza - don't lose it. Find a way to make it work. Consider, possibly, using different body parts. Gray's Anatomy is all latinate words, but it does list all the parts, and maybe that alone would be helpful. I can't do much for you in the way of synonyms, but I can say that the only two words in that stanza that seemed clunky to me - and I've no clue why - are "hair" and "ears".

But overall, very well done. The images of war, death, and cruelty in what is clearly a poem of both lust and as-yet restrained violence, were very well-handled. That he wants her to fear him, and be helpless before him, is evident and chilling, and playing counterpoint to that - providing lovely tension - is the continuing feeling that he knows he hasn't the power do this. It's all a question - shall I? - surrounded by words expressing her hardness, her coldness, her warrior nature as a Sheildmaiden of Rohan. This is a woman he *wants* to do these things to, but is too intimidated by her strength and coldness, which may be precisely the source of his desires. To bring her down, though he can only do it in his mind. Yet the threat is there, that he may try....

Well done.

 

 

Re: Bitter Valentine's Day Poetry

Heh. Well, just so you know, I'm really hard to squick. My reaction to this poem was much more, "ooo... wow. *shiver*"

My squick button is helplessness and it's kind of a weird one. Violent NCS 'fic doesn't squick me, because at least then the victim usually at least has a chance to fight. The author will never let them win, of course, but at least the opposition is there.

Being watched and schemed on from afar as Grima does with Eowyn, though...*shudder* How can you fight against something you don't even know is there? Gah...I just went all goose-pimply!

And Dwim, if you show up to the next hot-tub party with Grima on your arm, I will be in the center of the room, table-dancing to "Bad Reputation" with Eol for security's sake. ;)

Suzene

 

 

Re: Bitter Valentine's Day Poetry

Firstly, thank you both for your comments and helpful anatomical lists. :-)

I've made some minor changes: there's a bit more punctuation. I've cut "thy" from the second stanza--tell me what you think. I tried dropping "and" instead, and it just didn't work for me.

I also substitued two things in the "catalogue" though I'm still not satisfied with it. Got the rhyme for the last line, but doing so moves me away from the physical in a sense. Why must English have such unrhyming body parts? To say nothing of the fact that it's hard to get them to alliterate the way I want them to. Silly, silly language. Then the 'normal' fetishization of the female body restricts things still further:

breasts, arse, crotch, hips, thighs, stomach, throat, lips (both sets), eyes, and hands insofar as it's nice to be touched back.

The rest we lump under fetish objects "proper", so it's hard to get that element of sexual/-ized anatomy mixed in with other body parts without disrupting the mood. I'd considered abandoning the obvious alliteration, but part of Gríma's particular "style" reflects the repetitive nature of evil--it's persistent, but not highly creative; it (re)iterates. So I don't think he'd abandon the pattern altogether, and I'm not sure what it would represent if he did. Maybe that things were breaking down (like control), but I'm not sure.

Re: helplessness. Once upon a time, I said that I felt it was unfair to poor Haldir that he was always cast as the predator, and proposed Fëanor as a more likely predator type. But when you have Gríma, why not use him in that role? I mean, really, he's the villain we all know and are taught to fear--the man who quietly obsesses over you, and about whom you can do nothing but feel him take you apart with his eyes and undress you imaginatively in his bath (ok, scary, ew, gross, don't let's go further than my brain already did). Some of us may have met this person before and been glad to be rid of him....

 

 

Re: Bitter Valentine's Day Poetry

Not to mention Grima's Valentine to Eowyn! I'm with Suzanne. Ick! If I ever, ever had the least inclination to feel pity for Grima, you have utterly, irrevocably destroyed it. Makes me wish Gandalf hadn't stopped Eomer from killing the Worm (but who am I to second guess one of the Ainur? Perhaps if I were to spend a thousand years in Nienna's company as Olorin did...).

Nessime

 

 

Re: Bitter Valentine's Day Poetry

I think the changes improved the general flow of the poem. I did shiver (I mean, literally!) while reading it, and I definitely think you captured the sort of lusty/obssessive nature of Grima's "thoughts" about Eowyn. It does feel as though he wishes to tear her apart (argh), and yet it is so... how to put it... it is very powerful in conveying this feeling that he "has" her without actually having her physically, that he can "do" evrything he wishes in his mind and she cannot do a thing about it.


"I've made some minor changes: there's a bit more punctuation. I've cut "thy" from the second stanza--tell me what you think. I tried dropping "and" instead, and it just didn't work for me."

I liked the "and" better. Why do you think it doesn't work? I think it gives a more natural flow to the way one reads the line.


"I'd considered abandoning the obvious alliteration, but part of Gríma's particular "style" reflects the repetitive nature of evil--it's persistent, but not highly creative; it (re)iterates. So I don't think he'd abandon the pattern altogether, and I'm not sure what it would represent if he did."

I agree. And repetition throughout the poem helps establish this mood; it's haunting, obssessive, sort of drives you to despair, in a way. I think I'd stick with the alliteration (and I think Grima would, too)


"I also substitued two things in the "catalogue" though I'm still not satisfied with it. Got the rhyme for the last line, but doing so moves me away from the physical in a sense."

Could you remind me of how the rhyme for the last line was before? I forgot how it was before the change. However, I think the catalogue works better with the substitutions for "eyes" and "ears"; "tongue" and "tears" are much more, let's say, connotative?


The questions at the end of each stanza... *shudders* I like how you have managed to involve all different parts of the body, as well as various sensations. I'm very impressed with it all. Not that I had a doubt that you'd pull through Grima's poetry in a magnificent way ;-) but I am amazed at how much can you say without actually saying it, which is, in my opinion, what Grima would do...

 

 

Re: Bitter Valentine's Day Poetry

Starlight, re: comparison of new and old versions, go to my forum to see them. I've also put stanza four up in two forms for anyone interested in leaving comments on it.

Re: "and" versus "thy"--I wasn't clear. I prefer to start that line with "and" rather than "thy." More objectifying, I think. And it sounds better to me.

I am amazed at how much can you say without actually saying it, which is, in my opinion, what Grima would do...

Thanks--that's very satisfying to learn. I like stories that play with things just out of sight or unspoken yet understood, so that's what I try to write when I can.

Nessime said:

Not to mention Grima's Valentine to Eowyn! I'm with Suzanne. Ick! If I ever, ever had the least inclination to feel pity for Grima, you have utterly, irrevocably destroyed it.

I just want to make sure that if we get "Nobody's Perfect/Good guys... bad guys?" up and running, whoever takes on Gríma will have an appropriate challenge. ;-)

Makes me wish Gandalf hadn't stopped Eomer from killing the Worm (but who am I to second guess one of the Ainur? Perhaps if I were to spend a thousand years in Nienna's company as Olorin did...).

Or the foresight, or sense of rightness (thou shalt not slay a helpless thing, nor refuse to see the man in the monster), or a refusal to permit another to commit murder and disfigure himself--Gandalf has many motives.

Pleased to have squicked you severely.

 

 

Comparison: BVD and Denethor's Poetry challenges

For those who have written for both challenges (assuming there are folks who have done so), did you find the constraint of writing specifically in Denethor's voice more difficult than the content constraint that governs this challenge?

Another question:

Ok, if you read Stulti's "The Challenge of Fëanor," there's this interesting stiletto effect going on as the lines shorten in the third stanza, then flare out again.

Does anyone else find him/herself unconsciously doing something like this as s/he moves towards that climactic point?

It happens in Mouse's "Iron Flame" as well, thanks in part to the couplet ending of the sonnet. But those lines are definitely shorter than the ones above, so it has the effect (for me) of driving the [ahem!] "point" home, as it were. Cough. Yes, sword poetry... Nice turn of phrase, btw:

Alas that his breath was raped by thy bite!
Alas that with flesh and blood we were joined!


The double meanings on raped, and joining through flesh and blood are very evocative. Love is war, is it not? And someone must always lose in war....


 

 

Re: Bitter Valentine's Day Poetry

I agree with everybody else – I was distinctly squeaked – uck! I thought that image of her pinned out spreadeagled for his dissection particularly powerful and also the hints of the insidious power of his voice (“O shall I teach thee the power of whispers?” and “O shall I teach thee what thou art?”).

I don’t know whether this is just something that occurred to me, but I got a sense that he is enjoying a feeling that he can threaten other people to gain dominance over her – Eomer for instance. So that is why I like the line “on body’s bones before thee biered?” as it is.


 

 

Re: Bitter Valentine's Day Poetry

Alawa said:

I was distinctly squeaked

This is one I haven't gotten before. ;-)

uck! I thought that image of her pinned out spreadeagled for his dissection particularly powerful and also the hints of the insidious power of his voice

Thanks. There are days when I wonder whether I should be somehow concerned that this sort of thing can come out of me... then I go play darts in the grand tradition.

I got a sense that he is enjoying a feeling that he can threaten other people to gain dominance over her – Eomer for instance. So that is why I like the line “on body’s bones before thee biered?” as it is.

I hadn't really considered that much, but this would be one more reason not to revert to the 'beautiful/soul' version of that stanza, or change over to the third alternative. Heh heh... yes, Éomer, too, all nicely spread out but in a much more literal sense before her. I'm sure Gríma wouldn't mind. Sort of like a sinister cat leaving a "present" for his mistress [cough!].

And so now the important question to all of you: Where are your BVD poems? Get writing!

 

 

Re: Bitter Valentine's Day Poetry

Thanks. There are days when I wonder whether I should be somehow concerned that this sort of thing can come out of me... then I go play darts in the grand tradition.

I sometimes feel the same about Mary Mordor Sue.

And so now the important question to all of you: Where are your BVD poems? Get writing!

Okay, okay... is it okay if I give MMS a chance to speak again? She's got the right sort of ummm... obsessiveness to come out with it.

Dammit Dwim, you've bloody well sicced the plotbunnies on me again!

 

 

Re: Bitter Valentine's Day Poetry

There are days when I wonder whether I should be somehow concerned that this sort of thing can come out of me... then I go play darts in the grand tradition.

Heh. Good response.

Don't worry that this can come out of you. Worry if it never does. I believe, strongly, in taking the demons out for a walk from time to time. Love them, pet them, understand them, clasp them to you. There's great power in them. And if you ignore them, they will claw their way out of their cages and bite you in the butt.

That's my feeling, anyway.


-Rachel

 

 

Re: Bitter Valentine's Day Poetry

Dwim asked:

And so now the important question to all of you: Where are your BVD poems? Get writing!

I have a very short offering up. Somewhere or other Grima managed to pick up a bit of a haiku influence. Probably too much hanging around with Saruman.

 

 

Re: Bitter Valentine's Day Poetry

Dwim asked:

And so now the important question to all of you: Where are your BVD poems?

*gulps* Hai hai! But I have a minor problem: the Poetry bug bit me, but I don't know if the poem I wrote really qualifies. It's from Turin's POV; it's about Beleg mostly, but one of the 'sonnets' (in other words, Vikki's poor half-hearted attempt at a sonnet) is largely about Anglachel - and boy is he bitter. (The sword killed my best friend!) So, er ... I was wondering if it would qualify? Or is it all wrong?

~~Vikki
Not wanting to make a fool of herself

 

 

Re: Bitter Valentine's Day Poetry

Fetish objects (like Anglachel) are a-ok, so long as the poem is highly bitter and obsessive.

"The point is to have poetry from an obsessive character to the object of his/her obsession; fetish objects are obviously allowed and encouraged."

You'd have to make the case that Túrin is obsessed with Beleg in some unhealthy fashion that is at least quasi-romantic in nature.

 

 

Re: Bitter Valentine's Day Poetry

Can somebody please do me the honour of reviewing Maeglin's Song, my "poem*? I don't write poems, actually, and I do desire your suggestions and corrections.

Sothis
A lot of Self-Doubt

 

 

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