"Cresheim Glen, Wissahickon" by Thomas Moran‘The Mellow Season’ by Carole Mertz The Society October 14, 2018 Beauty, Poetry 45 Comments Ah, now comes the mellow season, Marks its time with jackdaws caws. Autumn with its rusty reason Offers forth its season’s laws. Now no more the pretty laces, Florals found along the way. Brackish forms in darker traces, Longer shadows, shorter day. Autumn wears its gown of orange Trampling out the summer’s green. Skunks and jays and squirrels forage, Welcome soon a wintry scene. Carole Mertz, a professional musician, turned to writing ten years ago. She has recent poems at Indiana Voice Journal, Rockford Review, Kind of a Hurricane Press, Pyrokinection, The Write Place at the Write Time, and in forthcoming anthologies. Her poems won several Wilda Morris Poetry Challenges in 2015. Carole resides with her husband in Parma, OH. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) 45 Responses Joe Tessitore October 14, 2018 A beautiful poem Carole, very evocative – well done! With my hypercritical eye I couldn’t help but notice “orange” and “forage”, but don’t think it mattered a bit! Reply Steve Shaffer October 14, 2018 Very nice and lyrical. Had to look up “jackdaw” 🙂 Should that have been ” jackdaw’s ” or even ” jackdaws’ “? I’m not sure. Reply Amy Foreman October 14, 2018 The perfect accompaniment to a hot cup of tea on this drizzly fall morning! Thanks, Carole. Reply Dean Kavouras October 15, 2018 Agreed. And it is a timeless poem as well. It could easily have been written in the 18th or 19th century, or today. No one would know. Reply Joseph S. Salemi October 14, 2018 I love both the perfect metrics and the elegant diction. But most of all I like the use of a double verb in lines 2 and 13. This is a sophisticated figure that is not commonly used, but which adds real panache to a longer sentence by omitting “and” or some other connective. To be more specific, Mertz has the subject noun “season” in line 1 governing the verbs “comes” and “marks.” And she has the compound subject noun “Skunks and jays and squirrels” govern the two verbs “forage” and “Welcome.” She does something even fancier in her second quatrain. There she omits the understood verb structure [There are..] and simply lets the quatrain be an impressionistic picture of autumn’s features. This omission of the verb of being happens frequently in Latin verse, but not so much in English, where it is not so easily accomplished. It’s a perfectly chiseled and polished poem. Reply Carole Mertz October 14, 2018 It’s so rewarding and encouraging to hear all your comments. Thank you for taking the time to remark with specifics. Reply David Paul Behrens October 14, 2018 A very nice poem. You write in a way that I aspire to write. The closest rhyme for orange I could ever come up with is door hinge. Reply Joseph S. Salemi October 14, 2018 “Orange” has always been a problem for rhymers in English, and the word is therefore normally avoided in end-position. The best I can come up with is the construct “far range,” but both items together would involve some rather weird concatenation of ideas. Better to forget the whole thing. In this poem, Mertz uses “forage,” which is a near-rhyme and perfectly acceptable, especially because (in the context of her meaning) it works just fine. The rhyme does not seem forced. Reply Jack Beaulieu October 14, 2018 “Shawl” occurred as a substitute for gown, which might be a little overused. Something about “trampling down” keeps bothering me. “Freezing out?” That would pair well with shawl anyway. The recommended apostrophe would help if you keep the bird plural. But if you make it singular, and say “jackdaw caws,” none is needed. The poem reads well. Reply Mark Stone October 14, 2018 Carole, Hi. This is a poem that students of poetry should study. The trochaic tetrameter is lovely. I like the alliteration in lines 11 & 12. The rhymes are solid, and “orange” and “forage” works for me. Regarding Jack’s concern with “trampling out,” one alternative is: “Ousting slowly summer’s green.” And the poem does create a mellow feeling. Well done! Reply Mark Stone October 14, 2018 Now that I think about it some more, I’m not sure I’ve heard the verb “trample out” before. Here is another alternative: Autumn wears its gown of orange Easing out the summer’s green. Reply David Watt October 15, 2018 Carole, I like that you have made every word count in your beautiful description. The meter is precise, and makes the poem satisfying to read. Reply Joseph S. Salemi October 15, 2018 “He is trampling down the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored..” Howe, Battle Hymn of the Republic Not quite the same, but a useful pedigree. Reply David Hollywood October 15, 2018 What a lovely poem. Thank you. Reply Charles Southerland October 15, 2018 Carole, Best poem I’ve seen anywhere for a while. Reply Wilude Scabere October 15, 2018 I concur with Ms. Foreman’s comment; Ms. Mertz’ “The Mellow Season” is a delightful, little lyric. “Ah, now comes…” is an Elizabethan opening, reminiscent of Samuel Daniel, et. al. The trochaic tetrametre, slightly unsettling, is appropriate to a season leaving summer, “rusty reason”, and as harbinger to “a wintry scene”. Effective L2 alliteration, verging on the onomatopoetic, particularly with the “jackdaws caws”, which jolts with its announcement of alternating disyllabic (feminine) and monosyllabic (masculine) rhymes, is carried throughout, “brackish,” “darker,” “skunks,” “squirrels”. I likewise concur with Mr. Stone’s appreciation of the alliteration of the final line: L12. The diction of this mini-ditty is convincing, “trampling,” etc., and its music approaches Shakespearean song. Reply Monty October 16, 2018 In view of some of the above comments, I feel I should seek elucidation on the criteria by which poetry is judged. (I’m not sure if the below terms ‘near-rhymes’ and ‘full-rhymes’ are the correct terms; but bear with me . . they’re all I know.) Is it not the case that a single rhyming poem should contain either full-rhymes or near-rhymes from start to finish . . but not both? To me, they’re two completely different forms of poetry, and in writing a poem, I would always decide before I started whether it’ll be a near-rhyme poem or a full-rhyme poem. If I decided on the former, then it’d maintain near-rhymes from start to finish . . and vice-verca. The above poem is exemplary in rhyme and meter, apart from the aforementioned anomaly (to me) of ‘orange’ and ‘forage’. Why the crossover? And – in view of some of the above comments – why is the crossover so readily permitted/accepted? I ask not in the sense of whether I deem it to be right or wrong (it goes without saying that one can write a poem however they wish), but more in the sense of the following hypothetical example: 2 poems from 2 different humans have been entered into a competition; both of which contain 12 metrically-precise lines. Poem a/ maintains persistent rhyme in all 12 lines: Poem b/ rhymes in only 10 of the 12 lines. The judges have tapered it down to these 2 poems: and are now deliberating over which one should get 1st, which 2nd . . . My question is this (and I ask with an eye on the future; I wanna know what I’m up against if I’m entering a competition): If the judges were hopelessly undecided, and were poring meticulously over each piece (which, I s’pose, we’d all like to think they were in such situations) . . would they consider that the piece with 12 rhyming lines should, in the extreme, take preference over the piece with only 10? Or, would they pay no heed to the disparity; and look for other merits/faults? Is rhyme-consistency a judges criterion when it comes to the crunch? Regarding the union of ‘orange’ and ‘forage’, one of the above comments was: “I don’t think it mattered a bit”. Am I wrong in believing that it DOES matter; and that such discipline is an essential duty of a poet? If (again hypothetically) the writer of poem b/ had taken six hours to perfect and complete the first 2 stanzas . . and now find that they’ve spent another six hours on the 3rd and final stanza, and still can’t find the full-rhyme; they may be excused for thinking: “This is taking too long; I’m just gonna use a near-rhyme instead, to get it finished” . . . but the writer of poem a/, upon reaching the same snag at the same juncture, thought: “This ain’t gonna happen. I’m gonna have to rip-up the 3rd stanza and start again ’til I can find the full-rhyme . . even if it takes another TEN hours!” . . . does that not count for something in a judges eye? Does the ultimate act of poetic discipline not get rewarded? That, to me, is the very act of ‘polishing’ a poem. Thus, ’twas with mild alarm that I noticed that one of the above commenters has labelled the poem ‘polished’: whereas I see it as unpolished. A well-written, exquisite poem undoubtedly.. but unpolished. I say ‘mild alarm’, ‘cos the same commenter is one of the judges in next year’s SCP Competition! And, judging by his previous comments in these pages (which I always eagerly await, as they’re generally informative and educational), he seemingly would’ve known more about poetry at half his present age than I do now at 55! So, I ask . . is it me? Am I placing too much emphasis on rhyme-consistency? Enlighten me . . . tell me the ‘rules’. p.s. Ms Mertz: regardless of my perception of the above . . I think you write vividly and fluidly: you’re a real talent. Reply Joseph S. Salemi October 16, 2018 I think you are being a bit too rigid. A near-rhyme is not used for its own sake, but only as an acceptable option in places where it is simply impossible to get a perfect rhyme within the confines of an already well-composed part of the poem. Moreover, the idea of deliberately choosing to write a poem totally in near-rhyme is bizarre. I can’t conceive of anyone who is serious about formal poetry doing such a thing. Near-rhyme is a supplement to the formalist poet’s craft, not a major tool. Yes, when one is writing in a rhymed form one should try hard to get perfect rhymes in every case. But when that is not possible, the worst thing you can do is to rip up what you have done and start over, wrenching your invention into inappropriate perfect rhymes that simply are silly. I say this as someone who has just finished writing a 5000-line satire in rhyming couplets, and out of all those couplets I think there are only ten cases where I had to use near-rhyme. No “rule” in formal poetry is carved in granite. There is always some leeway and latitude. And no serious judge of formal and classical poetry would start out by looking to see if every line in a poem is perfect before reading the poem through. He reads the poem first, with an open mind, to see if in fact it works effectively as a formal poem. What might he find? If it is a poorly constructed piece, he’ll see inconsistent meter, all sorts of silly metrical substitutions, awkward phrasing, misuses of language, grammatical lapses, or just plain tedious and banal subject matter. In other words, he’ll look at the poem as what the Germans call a “Gestalt,” or a whole. And he’ll see that as a whole the poem is lousy, even if all the rhymes are perfect. If he finds a good poem, he’ll notice metrical regularity, proper grammar, sophisticated syntax, elegant diction, and an excellent and well-treated subject. Any deviations from these things, and the poem will be fatally flawed. But if the poet has in a single instance rhymed “orange” with “forage,” he will understand that this is a perfectly acceptable near-rhyme that a professional poet is permitted to use. Think of near-rhyme as a supplemental tool, like glue. You use glue only where and when you need it. You don’t spread it everywhere, slathering it all over the job at hand. By the way, there are plenty of perfectly rhymed poems that are complete garbage. Rhyme is one of the delightful ornaments and graces of poetry, but perfect rhyme doesn’t save a rotten poem from its badness, just as perfectly applied cosmetics don’t necessarily make an ugly woman beautiful. How long somebody works on a poem is immaterial to its quality. In poetry, process is insignificant. The only thing that matters is finished product. And finished product is all that any judge sees. Reply Wilbur Dee Case October 16, 2018 On Rhymes for Mr. Med 1. For me rhyme is merely an ornament to a poem; it is not a requisite. Shakespeare and Milton are my prime examples; but there are myriads of others. 2. I don’t think I’ve ever written a poem with rhyme in mind; for me it merely happens along the way. When I write sonnets, bildings or tennos, I know where the rhymes would likely occur, but that is only a spec, a plot, a plan. I enjoy the freedom of allowing anything to happen. Others, I am sure, work differently. 3. One place I differ from nearly all, if not all my contemporaries, and even the tradition of English poetry itself, is how I envision rhyme. In my wi(l)dest vision I see all words rhyming with each other; but I understand that almost makes the word rhyme insignificant. So, in various stages, I pull back from that. In my most rigid stage, I enjoy exact rhyme. Following the practice of brilliant poets, like Emily Dickinson, I also enjoy approximate rhyme—but still call it rhyme. In my present writing I enjoy only limited similarities as well. Here is a not-particularly-good poem from yesterday, to show what I mean. The place was but a rocky hill, the road a gravel stretch; he stopped his van, that working man, to pause for just a rest. He stepped outside to breathe the air; it was so warm and fresh; he felt invigourated; pleasant breezes touched his flesh. He wished he could remain there for forever and a day, but he had work to do, and, o, he knew he couldn’t stay. He placed his right hand on his head, and leaned against the van; his drab green tee hung on his frame, that passing working man. Then he got back inside his van; his black shoes left the ground. The calm would cease, there’d be no peace; he had to move along. 4. Notice that stretch and rest are not exact rhymes, nor are ground and along; but I wouldn’t exchange them for exact rhymes for several reasons. Now in a competition this poem has little hope; it is simple a brief sketch; and yet, that is how I like to write. It is neither striking, nor original—except for the structure—and even that is minimally so. 5. But who is one writing for? for predetermined judges—or someone else? for someone who isn’t even here? This poem would not be acceptable at Poetry Magazine or at Trinacria, it would not be a good poem for the SCP or the New Yorker. The subject is too banal; the poem lacks specificity. The poem only took about fifteen minutes to compose and it accomplishes very little. And yet…I like the poem, especially its internal structure. I’m not wanting to polish it, and I will publish it, if publish it I do, just as it is. Although I disagree with Mr. Salemi on so many points of view (notice I do not capitalize the first word in each line—though Mr. Stone had not noticed that), I agree with Mr. Salemi that your view is “a bit too rigid”; but then again I think Mr. Salemi’s view of rhyme is far “too rigid” for me. 6. So explore. Do what seems best for you. Then stand on it. Fight for what you believe. If you subscribe to rigidity, like Mr. Anderson does, hold to it. Or, if you prefer, go for exactitude, like Ms. Foreman or Mr. Tweedie. And there are so many other possibilities. And don’t worry if people disagree with you, like the promising poet Mr. Krusch, press on, even if it does seem that we @ SCP are like the Keystone Cops. I have never found a person who agrees with even half of what I believe poetically; and it doesn’t matter. In fact, it is from there that originality comes. Reply Joseph S. Salemi October 16, 2018 Mr. Wise has said quite a lot here, but I’ll just comment on one important thing. I agree totally and wholeheartedly with what he says in paragraph 5 about a poet’s proper attitude towards his own work. If you are a really serious poet, you write your poems ONLY FOR YOURSELF, AND FOR NOBODY ELSE. The only audience you have to please are your own interior criteria of what is good and what is bad. I am almost alone in the poetry world in this opinion. Almost everyone else is desperate to please some external audience. Reply William Krusch October 17, 2018 Mr. Salemi, you could not be more correct – those are words we all need to hear now and again. We can never forget why we all began writing in the first place. Though clearly the range of personal views and aesthetic criteria range widely amongst the poets here, we can never forget that the love of language is what brought us here to begin with. Far too much chaos is already going on in this world, and we really should take it upon ourselves to promote the values of Classical art for their inherent sake alone. On another note, though I may not be a fan of Juvenalian satire, I have immense respect for the literary criticism you have written over at The Penn. The subjunctive form is absolutely necessary, and “ye” and the various “thou” forms really do serve a purpose that is more than antiquarian. One day I will learn how to use them correctly in my writing… Despite my disagreement over the aesthetics of much of The Penn’s poetry, I think many of the essays over there really do contribute to the preservation of language. As for the poems, though they are certainly not what I aim for, I would never adovcate for their censorship. Herrick has a spot on my shelf just as Surrey and Sidney do. All aesthetic differences aside, I do wish everyone at The Penn (and Trinacria) the best in their pursuits to maintain the dignity of language and thought. Carol Smallwood October 17, 2018 Loved the feel of fall you convey. Congratulations for getting so many fine and helpful comments, Carole! Am looking forward to seeing more of your work. Reply Monty October 17, 2018 Messieurs Salemi and Wise. It may be the case that I didn’t adequately explain my case above. My query was not made in the sense that I regularly enter competitions: I don’t. I’ve only ever entered one – and that was SCP’s earlier this year. Of course I don’t write poems aimed at potentially pleasing judges (or anyone else, for that matter). My use of the hypothetical competition above was purely as an analogy; and, if I may elaborate, my hypothesis was based on both poems being equal not only in form and metre, but also in all the other elements which one of ya’s has since mentioned – grammar, syntax, diction, subject – to the point where the judges couldn’t find any fault in either . . and I just wondered if they would then – and only then – decide that the ‘completely’ full-rhymed poem should be judged against the ‘partially’ full-rhymed poem. Of course I’m aware that a judge would never read the rhymes before the poem; and I’m equally aware that the amount of time a poet spends on composition will have no bearing on a judge . . . I just wondered if it’d be recognised that one of the writers had gone the extra mile (or hours) to find the right rhyme; and that such discipline would be considered. In view of your comments since, I now (reluctantly) realise that the insertion of a near-rhyme into an otherwise full-rhyme poem is an accepted practise in poetry if/when a writer gets stuck; but where does one draw the line? If it’s acceptable to deviate from the rhyme, is it equally acceptable to deviate from the meter when one gets stuck? If, in a 12-line formal poem, 10 lines are metrically equal, but 2 lines are unequal: ‘cos the writer struggled for too long over those 2 lines. . eventually deciding to simply deviate from the otherwise-equal meter (discipline all the while receding) . . . is that also accepted practise? The agreed suggestion by both of ya’s that I’m being ‘a bit too rigid’ may be more accurate than ya realise. For me personally, the word ‘discipline’ has always been the most important word in poetry. If I was asked to describe poetry in one word; I’d always use that word. Equally, it will always be the foremost criterion by which I judge the merits of a poem . . which writer went that extra mile to maintain the discipline. In that sense, I s’pose I AM rigid: unequivocally rigid . . added to which is a dash of stubbornness (which I seem to’ve attained in later life). If the poetry gods view that as dim.. narrow.. blinkered.. so be it: it’s too late now . . I ain’t gonna change at my age. I dunno if it’s the same on your side of the pond, but in UK english, the word Orange is said to be the only word in the language for which there’s no other full-rhyming word; and ever since I heard that claim, I’ve always been aware that the word Orange will be eternally out-of-bounds in my personal poetry realm. As an aside: I note that one of ya’s said above: “I can’t conceive of anyone who is serious about formal poetry . . deliberately choosing to write a poem totally in near-rhyme”. Well, I’d venture that Dylan Thomas was somewhat ‘serious’ about poetry; but that didn’t deter him from writing 3 poems with (evidently pre-determined) near-rhymes . . Poem 1: doubles/dabbles.. hulk/milk.. bone/unborn.. bubbled/babbled.. crop/pap.. lost/ghost.. tremble/thimble.. bone/parhelion.. valley/volley.. yards/lads.. bones/guns.. Jordan/garden.. turn/corn.. swivel/devil.. shells/heels.. colour/pallor Poem 2: lever/lava.. ocean/ashen.. flower/fire.. fellow/fallow.. morrow/marrow.. lover/lever.. mortal/metal.. blood/blade.. milling/mauling.. riven/raven.. vice/voice.. couple/people.. suckle/circle.. fusion/vision.. oil/all Poem 3: stone/stain.. crime/climb.. sin/scene.. boy/bay.. starer/tower.. suck/sake.. stroke/wrack.. aghast/paste.. seaweedy/lady.. earth/death.. shelter/eater. Masterful . . Reply Joseph S. Salemi October 18, 2018 You mean “masterly,” not masterful. The word “masterful” means overbearing, arrogant, and bossy. “Masterly” means done impeccably and precisely, in the manner of a master. I only point this out since you are a stickler for precision and discipline. Dylan Thomas was a wonderful poet, but he was not a classical formalist in the tradition that the SCP is attempting to preserve. He worked on the cusp of the modernist revolution in verse, and was inevitably influenced by some of its bad ideas. My personal view is that, if you plan on writing a poem totally in near-rhyme, why not just give yourself a break and write the thing in blank verse? Near-rhyme is just an escape from a problem, not something desirable in itself. Once again, you place undue importance on the “time factor” in writing a poem. The only thing that matters in poetry is THE POEM ITSELF. Nobody cares if it took ten minutes to write it, or ten years. In any case, a judge of a poetry contest only sees the finished poems. He has no idea at all how long it took any particular poem to be written. So time is not a factor “to be recognized” by a judge in a poetry contest. It’s acceptable to deviate (once in a while) into near-rhyme or slant rhyme. It is not acceptable to deviate from the established meter of a poem, since metrical excellence is the very backbone of formal and classical poetry. I often reject poems submitted to TRINACRIA because the poet has written a very nice sonnet, but for some ungodly reason has left out a foot in one of the lines. Not being able to adhere to something simple like iambic pentameter is a fatal flaw. And when I get a poem like that I reject it immediately, unless the poet agrees to fix the line. But an infrequent use of near-rhyme or slant rhyme (and I really mean INFREQUENT, as in the sense of “very rarely”) is perfectly OK. Reply Monty October 18, 2018 Gotcha. Well, that’s cleared that up for me; cheers for yer time and patience. It ain’t the answer that I wanted to hear regarding the rhyme-discipline; and I can’t pretend that I’m not a tad dismayed to hear that that’s the ‘rule’; but I’m glad I now know that . . it’s changed the world for me! At least I was heartened to hear yer assertion that the meter remains sacrosanct. Can we put this ‘time-factor’ thing to bed? I hoped I’d already achieved that in my last missive, when I clearly declared: “I’m aware that the amount of time a poet spends on composition will have no bearing on a judge” . . . see, I’m aware of that! The query I was making in my above analogy was not about a writer being potentially rewarded for spending the extra time to resolve a snag; it was about perseverance. I was just trying to envisage a scenario where writer b/ arrived at said snag in the final stanza.. hit the block.. and thought: “It’s already late-afternoon; I’ve got people coming for dinner in a few hours, things to do tomorrow . . I wanna get this poem finished”. Voila . . in comes the near-rhyme. But writer b/ at the same juncture, decided to put it to one side for the day; and resolved to continue on the morrow in their determination to find the full-rhyme. And when the morrow comes, it doesn’t matter whether it took them an extra 20 minutes.. or an extra 20 hours: that’s irrelevant. I was talking about perseverance. Not how long said perseverance took . . just the very act of perseverance; and whether a judge might sense that perseverance. If I may take ya back to yer own sentence above: ” Yes, when one is writing in rhymed form, one should try hard to get perfect rhymes in every case”. Can we agree that, in this context, the words “try hard” are perfectly open to interpretation? Goodnight time-factor. I can sincerely assure ya that I didn’t mean ‘masterly’; that word’s not in my vocabulary.. hence I’ve never once used it. But I’ve used ‘masterful’ for as long as I can remember. I’ve never before felt the need to look it up in the bible (my longstanding pet term for the english dictionary: my bible), because, to me, it speaks for itself. If one displays beauty: one is beautiful . . if one displays mastery: one is masterful. But I must admit to having a quick peek today in the Oxford bible . . in which ‘masterful’ is defined thus: ‘performed or performing very skilfully’ (which, coincidentally, contains another example: skill . . skilful). I couldn’t help also noticing that ‘masterly’ has a near-identical definition; hence, I must conclude that both are equally employable when discussing mastery . . and that the difference in usage may be a continental one. If only ya knew how imprecise and undisciplined my existence is; ya wouldn’t be so quick to lable me as “a stickler for precision and discipline’. (although, upon my absorption of those words, it occured to me that – in a poetry-construction context – it may be the case that discipline breeds precision). I fear I may’ve given the impression that I consider myself to be some sort of poetry expert; but I can assure ya that the opposite is more likely. It’s highly probable, if not a certainty, that I know less about the inner-workings of poetry than any other member of SCP. That’s not false self-deprecation; it’s something that I’ve gathered just by reading the comments since joining SCP last year . . and subsequently realising just how little I knew about poetry form. Growing up, there came a point in my 20’s where I began to realise (and be told) that I possessed the gift of an affinity with the written word. This gift could only have come from within, ‘cos I never had a formal education; and I grew up in an environment (english council-estate) in which literature (in general, and poetry in particular) was never discussed. I went on to lead an (what might be considered) unorthodox life, in which there was just no time or place for literature. It wasn’t ’til my mid-30’s that I started to acquire the odd poetry anthology . . and it grew steadily from there. Within 5 years I had maybe 50 books! But it wasn’t ’til my late 30’s that I attempted to write my first poem (even now, at 55, I’ve still not written more than 20). When I was 37, I moved to the South of France (where a close friend from back home had already been living for 5 years), and started a little english taxi-service (running english tourists around): life became just a touch slower, and I then started to read tonnes of poetry . . and still do to this day. I was a late-starter with the internet (even now, I’m still a bit of a novice), so I had no means of learning about poetry form. Then, 2 years ago, I started dipping my toes into online-poetry sites: eventually discovering SCP late last year – since when, all other sites have been permanently banished from my screen. Thus, it’s only in the last 10 months that I’ve started to learn about the technicalities of poetry, and even the basic terms used for various forms; all of which has been gleaned just from the comments – in particular from yourself and Anderland (my collective term for messieurs Anderson and Southerland). When a new poem is submitted to SCP, I often find myself more anticipative to the comments than to the poem itself! What I’m trying to say, Joe, is that, in a sense, I’m a beginner. Yeah, I’ve been reading it voraciously for 25 years, and now have more than a hundred books; and I know what I like and don’t like . . but only READING it – not studying it! It’s only now that I’ve started to STUDY poetry. It’s for this reason that I still haven’t (and may never) criticised a poem on SCP . . ‘cos I don’t feel qualified to do so. If I feel a poem is deserving of praise . . I’ll give it, unreservedly. If not, I’ll simply delete it (after scanning the comments, of course!): and leave the criticism to the experts . . and learn what I can from the criticism. p.s. I noticed yer mention of the name Trinacria; is that an online site, or a magazine/journal? Can I assume that you’re the editor? Wilbur Dee Case October 19, 2018 1. Poetry does not have to rhyme to be classical. In English literature, Beowulf, Shakespeare, and Milton are perfect examples. For example, I find the unrhymed lines of Macbeth more poetic than the rhymed ones, though both are fascinating to me, and complement each other. 2. Classical poetry is not formalist. It is much larger and more encompassing than that, and includes, as Mr. Krusch has mentioned, Juvenal. Juvenalian satire is more classical than nearly everything on this site; and Neoclassicists, like Dryden and Pope, as well as Mr. Salemi, I believe, appreciated Juvenal’s literary power. However the classical that Mr. Salemi is attempting to preserve in Formalist poetry is not the classical I am trying to preserve, etc. 3. Mr. Med’s examples reveal Dylan Thomas’ masterful use of language. Notice the use of savage in “My World Is Pyramid”. In poems, like “All All and All” and “Do You Not Father Me,” Thomas experiments with language, an important indicator of a good poet. Crime/climb is an exact rhyme for me, despite its spelling. For me, the use of near rhyme, blank verse or balland verse is not an escape from a problem, it often is desirable in and of itself, as can be seen in Mr. Salemi’s loose blank verse poem “A History Lesson”. 4. Mr. Krusch accurately points out one common thread, the love of language, that runs through sites, like SCP, Trinacria, and The Penn; though there are important differences as well. One example suffices. When I wrote an essay in response to an essay of Mr. Salemi’s @ The Penn, Mr. Yankevich pointed out that they do not print such responses @ The Penn. 5. As Mr. Salemi has accurately pointed out, time does not matter in the construction of a poem; however, Mr. Med’s example does remind me of Coleridge’s complaint about Porlock disrupting his poetic inspiration. As for perseverence: Cinna’s Zmyrna, like Gray’s Elegy, took a decade to compose; but now no book contains it. Nobody can decode its recondite lines, less read than German Lit’s Opitz or Lycophron’s Alexandra, containing prophesies of Cassandra; because it has vanished permanently. Only it and its author’s name gently occur occasionally, out of reach, on the sands of time’s ever rolling beach. 6. Is meter really sacrosanct? Not in the idle dreaming of “The Swallows of La Cienega” by Mr. MacKenzie, though the lines there are similar in length; nor exactly in Mr. Salemi’s fantasy “A History Lesson”, though the unrhymed iambic pentametre is faithfully followed there most of the time. 7. As to being a beginner; beginners understand lots of things, and have insights more experienced individuals will miss. The field of poetry, like that of mathematics, etc., is vast, and everyone can contribute; though contributions differ. Your contributions have already made writers think about their poetic practices. Who knows what else your experiences with a taxi-service in the south of France may bring to English poetry? Reply Joseph S. Salemi October 19, 2018 For Monty — Yes, I’m the editor of TRINACRIA. It is a hard-copy journal, but there is also a web presence for some past issues at trinacriapoetry.com. Our lousy modern dictionaries are descriptive rather than prescriptive, so of course they slavishly follow the dictates of bad usage. Check a really good dictionary, like the 13-volume OED, compiled by genuine scholars. It doesn’t matter what most people say; the word “masterful” does not mean “highly skilled.” It means offensively overbearing and bossy. Note the following lines from Hilaire Belloc’s comic poem “Maria,” where an annoying blind man is described as follows: “The man was independent, dull, Offensive, rude, and masterful.” The difference between “masterly” and “masterful” was pointed out to me nearly thirty years ago by none other than the great writer and dramatic critic John Simon who, though a Yugoslav by birth, had a profound knowledge of proper English. Simon’s masterly command of the English tongue was light years beyond that of the mediocrities who teach in our left-wing universities. Reply Monty October 19, 2018 Being one who considers the (british) english language to’ve been systematically ransacked in the last 30 years . . I concur wholeheartedly with yer views on ‘modern’ dictionaries; I’ve lost a lot of trust in them. The online dictionary which I use for convenience (in these days of convenience), just happens to be the very one which ya suggested I consult – the OED. I don’t know whether it’s a ‘modern’ OED or an ‘original’ OED: but I suspect the former. Nevertheless, its definition of the words in question follow (word for word) as: MASTERFUL (adj) 1/ Powerful and able to control others.. e.g. ‘he looked masculine and masterful’ 2/ Performed or performing very skilfully.. e.g. ‘A masterful assessment of the difficulties’ . . it then gives several other examples of the 2nd definition, one of which is: ‘Her masterful brush strokes and use of colour fired up many critics and curators’. MASTERLY (adj) Showing great skill; very accomplished.. e.g. The book is a masterly and worthy account of a crucial period in our history, with excellent maps’. If I may refer to yer above sentence: “It doesn’t matter what most people say; the word ‘masterful’ does not mean ‘highly skilled'”. . I feel that it should be paraphrased thus: “It doesn’t matter what any one person says; the word ‘masterful’ is listed in the OED as having two definitions: 1/ Bossy.. 2/ Skilful” . . and as such, both of our individual interpretations of the word are equally correct. In view of the above being as indubitable as it is, I didn’t feel the need to investigate further; but, out of sheer curiosity (and lest the OED was a modern version), I decided to consult my physical dictionary: a Chambers, which I’ve owned for 35 years.. first published in 1872.. containing well-over 2000 pages . . my absolute bible! I trust it implicitly. Sadly – in these online times – its main function these days is to gather dust on a shelf; but I’m content just to know that it’s always within reach if I need to conduct a more elaborate investigation than the ‘onlines’ can give. So, after dusting it down, I found that it yielded the following definitions (again, word for word): MASTERFUL (adj) Exercising the authority, skill or power of a master; imperious; masterly (rare) MASTERLY (adj) Like a master; with the skill of a master; overbearing (obs) . . again, indubitable evidence that they’re practically the same word with (apart from the slightest variation) the same meaning . . hence rightfully susceptible to individual interpretations. I’ve always placed my full trust in the ‘laws’ of our language, and such laws will always dictate to me that a boaster is boastful; a wisher is wishful; a doubter is doubtful; a mourner is mournful . . and no doubt hundreds of other such examples, which all lead inexorably to a master being masterful. That’s the law! It doesn’t matter if one’s being masterful in a negative way (overbearing) or a positive way (skilful): the word remains the same (to paraphrase the Zeppelin). In the light of such evidence, I’m mildly surprised that ya might expect me to disregard all of the above; disregard my bible . . . and instead take the word of a Yugoslavian! Reply Joseph S. Salemi October 19, 2018 Is the lover loveful? Is the fighter fightful? Is the actor actful? Is the farmer farmful? If it’s a law, it has plenty of exceptions, don’t you think? But “Whatever…” as my undergraduate students say. It isn’t worth wasting time on. As for John Simon, that Yugoslavian is one of the best film and drama critics of the twentieth century, and a writer of the most pellucid English prose since T.S. Eliot. Be a bit more respectful. Beau Lecsi Werd October 19, 2018 Mr. Salemi was being pedantic in correcting masterful, as it suffices; however, he was being obliging to elucidate the meanings of masterly and masterful. Mr. Salemi’s rhetorical answer to “Is the lover loveful? etc.” is no. However, I want to immediately use the word loveful, but as for fightful, actful, and farmful, not so much. Jorge Borges thought Thomas Browne the greatest prosist in the English language. I have to admit I do not. Does Mr. Salemi really think T. S. Eliot wrote pellucid prose, and that John Simon writes the most pellucid prose since, or is that just typical New York bombast? Though I think T. S. Eliot the greatest literary critic in the English language, I have never thought of his prose as pellucid. And further, I must admit I have never been moved by Mr. Simon’s prose. For me Dante’s poetry is pellucid, as is some Spanish El Siglo de Oro poetry, even, to a lesser degree, Shelley’s poetry. But whose prose is pellucid? that of clear and distinct Descartes? that of transcendental Leibniz’? Whose prose is thoroughly, translucently clear? C. S. Lewis’? best dialectics ever in English? Hmm. My favourite use of the root word master comes from Shakespeare, here at the end of Act I, Macbeth. Lady Macbeth: Your face, my thane, is as a book where men May read strange matters. To beguile the time, Look like the time. Bear welcome in your eye, Your hand, your tongue. Look like th’ innocent flower, But be the serpent under ‘t. He that’s coming Must be provided for; and you shall put This night’s great business into my dispatch, which shall to all our nights and days to come Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom. Macbeth: We will speak further. Lady Macbeth: Only look up clear. To alter favour ever is to fear. Leave all the rest to me. Reply Monty October 20, 2018 He wasn’t being ‘pedantic’: I see that word as generally meaning ‘One who’s unnecessarily fussy about rules and regulations’. Hence, it’s possible for one to be pedantic but, at the same time, still be (to the chagrin of those who have to bear it) technically correct. So, as opposed to being pedantic, Mr Salemi simply made a genuine mistake in trying to convey that ‘masterful doesn’t mean ‘skilful’; and, judging by his last missive, I think he’s finally, albeit inadvertently, admitted his mistake by offering the words ‘lover: fighter: actor’ as a supposed example. None of those words end in ‘ster’; they all end in ‘er’ or ‘or’, thus to transform those words into adjectives, one adds ‘ing’ . . and ‘lover’ becomes ‘loving’. But with words ending in ‘ster’, one adds ‘ful’ to gain the adjectival version . . and ‘boaster’ becomes ‘boastful’. These are the ‘laws’ of our language which I referred to above; and the letters in a certain word will always consistently dictate which letters shall be added to it to gain the adjective. A further example would be any words ending in ‘ild’: for the adjective, one adds either ‘ly’ or ‘ish’ . . so ‘wild’ becomes ‘wildly’; ‘mild’ becomes ‘mildly’; ‘child’ becomes ‘childish’. So, for Mr Salemi to throw in three words which don’t end in ‘ster’; and to needlessly point out that ‘love’ doesn’t become ‘loveful’ . . . is to completely deviate from the point we were debating; and it’s this very deviation which compels me to suspect that he now realises his error (in the face of such incontrovertible evidence) . . and is just trying to change tact. Another clue may be his use of the dismissive term ‘whatever’. And yet another clue may be the fact that he’s rendered his latest missive ‘unreplyable’ (not a word, surely?). So, I gather that yer aware of the Mr Simon to whom Mr Salemi refers; I’m not. I don’t watch films – any films – and I don’t (and may never) know what ‘pellucid’ means (unless it’s a derivative of ‘lucid’). But, regarding this Mr Simon: I’m mildly shocked that someone of Mr Salemi’s obvious literary standing doesn’t qualify his claims with: “In my opinion, John Simon writes the most . . ” No, he just comes straight out with: “John Simon writes the most . . “. How forceful and undiplomatic. And regardless of the esteem in which he holds the writer, Mr Simon is one person . . one person in 7-8 billion, who (as he’s perfectly entitled to do) has formed his own personal opinion of the word ‘masterful’ . . and for this opinion, I’m being advised to ignore a major Dictionary of (uk) English. How perfectly preposterous. This in no way means (as Mr Salemi suggests) that I lack “respect” for Mr Simons achievements; I’ve always respected (and envied) ANY writer who’s managed to earn a living from their craft. But, come on . . it can only ever be ONE person’s opinion. Who cares whether that person’s a renowned film-critic or a common taxi-driver! Reply Joseph S. Salemi October 20, 2018 Good God — arguing with these two guys is like trying to nail currant jelly to the wall. Is a monster monsterful? Is a lobster lobsterful? Is a toaster toasterful? Is a roadster roadsterful? Is a blister blisterful? Are you so obsessed with your “rule” that you cannot notice the flood of exceptions to it? Before you start telling people what imaginary “rule” they have to follow, try thinking a little bit about the English language. Yes it is my “opinion” that John Simon’s prose is pellucid, as was T.S. Eliot’s. But I also think that my opinion is objectively right, and yours is wrong. One is allowed to do that and state that in free nations. As to what the hell Dante’s poetry, or that of El Siglo de Oro, has to do with this question, I haven’t a clue. But that is often the case when trying to decipher what Bruce Dale Wise writes. Reply Monty October 21, 2018 That’s the end of it. Ya’v now strayed so far from the original point of debate.. that anyone reading this (even yer closest literary associates, I’m sure) will tell ya that it can go no further. There are many words ending in ‘ster’ which, with additional letters, CAN be formed into an adjective; and there are many words ending in ‘ster’ which CAN’T be formed into an adjective . . quite simply because that adjective doesn’t exist. There is NO exception to that basic ‘rule’. Our original debate was over a 6-letter word ending in ‘ster’ which, with additional letters, CAN be formed into an adjective. How unnecessary and time-wasting to inform us that ‘lobster’ can’t be ‘lobsterful’, when everyone knows that ‘lobster’ CAN’T be formed into an adjective, for the simple reason that ‘lobster’ has no adjectival form . . hence there’s no ‘lobsterful’.. no ‘lobstering’.. no ‘lobsterish’. I consider ya to be far too clever a man to’ve unintentionally strayed so far from the original point; so I must conclude that ya’v intentionally strayed . . for which, there can be only one reason. I also believe that I was in a position long before this juncture to perfectly rest my case; and perhaps I should’ve done so at an earlier stage. Nevertheless, I rest it now; and I shall make no future comment upon the matter. Yer argument is no longer with me . . it’s now with a renowned Dictionary of (uk) English; and it’s seemingly obvious that if ya choose to persist in an argument with such an authoritative tome . . ya’ll be forever attempting to nail jelly to the wall. Have a good life . . Reply Wilbur Dee Case October 21, 2018 It is Mr. Salemi’s “opinion” that John Simon’s prose is pellucid, as was T. S. Eliot’s.” He also thinks his “opinion is objectively right…” T. S. Eliot wrote, “The style of Dante has a peculiar lucidity…[his] thought may be obscure, but the word is lucid, or rather translucent.” Eliot elsewhere wrote: “The finest prose writer of Shakespeare’s time was, I think, Shakespeare himself; Milton and Dryden were among the greatest prose writers of their times…” But here is where I would qualify Eliot’s writing. I believe his prose is the greatest literary criticism in English; for me it is even better than Dryden’s, Pope’s, or Samuel Johnson’s; and, I believe it was T. S. Eliot’s accomplishments in poetry and drama, as mean as they may be, that contributed to his excellent prose. But his prose was limited mainly to social and literary criticism. He was not a contender for the greatest historical prose of the Modernist period, as that of, say, Winston Churchill, or Will Durant, nor the most important philosophical prose of the era, like that of , say, Bertrand Russell, or Ludwig Wittgenstein, and so on and so on. Nor do I believe his prose was pellucid…at all. Eliot also wrote, “In English poetry words have a kind of opacity which is part of their beauty.” And I would suggest that quality for Eliot’s verse. As for his prose I would suggest forthright, or trenchant, not contentious, as is Mr. Salemi’s prose. As for John Simon’s reviews, etc; his prose seems less than the prose of, say, a Clive James, whose “Opal Sunset” in poetry is an overlooked Postmodern gem. Why I would dare to bring up Dante in reference to a prose discussion, is, I would say, in addition to Eliot’s comments above, one of the things I most admire about Dante’s verse is it demonstrates the best qualities of good prose. My second reason is so obvious I won’t elucidate why I would dare bring up classical poets at the Society of Classical Poetry…no matter what the topic was. Reply Beau Lecsi Werd October 21, 2018 In Mr. Case’s last “paragraph,” “brings” should be “bring”. Perhaps Mr. Mantyk can fix that. As to Mr. Mantyk: 1. Mr. Mantyk is an excellent editor. He publishes poets from around the World, and is fairly tolerant of open comment—not perfectly—but he does try to keep the emphasis on the poetry. So, not only does he critically evaluate what passes muster, but he allows well over 90% of others’ literary comments. In the comments, even poems are allowed for argumentation and demonstration. 2. He has compassion for young and new voices, poets at their poetic height, and also for mature and older voices; in fact, he seeks the truest voices he can find. Mr. Mantyk is not a perfect critic, nor was Harriet Monroe; but Mr. Burch? Despite Mr. Burch’s disparaging remarks elsewhere published on the Internet, Evan Mantyk may be among the top tier of editors striving for English-language poetry of the highest standards. Reply Joseph S. Salemi October 21, 2018 This is just too much. The only formal prose that Shakespeare wrote was his will, the prologue to his poem “The Rape of Lucrece,” and his short dedication of “Venus and Adonis” to Henry Wriothesley. When Eliot refers to Shakepeare’s “prose” he means those non-metrical passages scattered here and there in the plays in places where blank verse is inappropriate or not required — usually stichomythic dialogue. Milton and Dryden, other the other hand, did in fact produce a great deal of sophisticated and polished prose in the strict sense of the word. I love Milton’s muscular Latinate prose style, even though he was a vicious anti-Catholic. As for Bruce Wise’s taste in prose, well… de gustibus non est disputandum, I suppose. But Clive James? Really? That posturing yuk-yuk journalism with a gag-line in every third sentence? This is to be compared with T.S. Eliot? You gotta be kidding, Bruce. And Winston Churchill and Will Durant? Those churners-out of monumental potboilers on the installment plan? Good grief! Wittgenstein, the Austro-British logician of theoretical complexities, and Russell, the mathematician turned left-liberal propagandist? You’re comparing these guys with writers who can produce exquisite and pellucid English prose? Thanks, but no thanks. And one final thing: Yes, I consider my opinion on these matters to be objectively correct. That is true for anyone who holds an opinion on anything. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be his opinion. Reply Wilbur Dee Case October 21, 2018 1.Though Mr. Salemi disagrees with T. S. Eliot on the quality of William Shakespeare’s prose, I do not. Here are a couple of examples. The first is from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In Act II, scene ii, when Hamlet says, “I have of late – but wherefore I know not – lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercise; and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory. This most excellent canopy the air, look you, this brave o’erhanging, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire – why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.” the immediacy of Hamlet’s feelings are brought forth in remarkable prose. 2. And though this piece, and the prose throughout Hamlet, is worthy of greater discussion, let me proceed to Macbeth, Act V, scene i, Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking scene. There is too much prose in this scene to analyze more in a brief comment, like this, however, notice Lady Macbeth’s first lengthier piece. “Out, damned spot! Out, I say!—One, two. Why, then, ’tis time to do ’t. Hell is murky!—Fie, my lord, fie! A soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?—Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him.” Lady Macbeth is unconsciouly upset. In the first sentence she is attempting to wash her hands, physically, and spiritually. Her second sentence, an emotional command, shows the helplessness of royal power. The phrase “One-two” echoes throughout the play, but one place is when the bell is rung in preparation for the murder of King Duncan. Her comment on hell shades the entire play, but particularly her life at this moment. Next she is arguing with her husband. Why is the brave Scottish warrior so frightened? Next, in confidentiality, she whispers to her husband about their ability to hide the deed. But then that horrid, perhaps also ironic, last sentence, at least a reference to King Duncan, shows her internal terror of the actions she and her husband have taken. This prose is not only indicative of her mental derangement, but it remarkably echoes the motifs of the entire play. Shakespeare does so much in his prose. This is certainly not stichomythia. This demonstrates one of the capacities of great prose, its ability to reverberate throughout an entire verbal structure. 3. From Macbeth, I could also choose the porter’s doubly and trebly rich prose, from which our modern “knock-knock” jokes arise. In fact, there are dozens of examples of brilliance prose passages throughout the plays. The Merry Wives of Windsor, in fact, is about 5/6 prose. 4. Moving on. I don’t know if Mr. Salemi noticed this, but I did not compare T. S. Eliot’s prose to that of Clive James; I compared John Simon’s prose to that of Clive James. I’m not even sure but that I might suggest that even Mr. Salemi’s own prose may be better than that of John Simon’s. I would rather read Van Wyck Brooks than John Simon, even Tom Wolfe, [who wrote in the same vein as Liza Minelli looks likes a beagle…], and the names just go on. 5. I just chose two Modernist historians at random, implying there are others in contention. But I find the prose of the great orator and statesman Winston Churchill noteworthy, because he was in the midst of history, and I chose the Francophile “monumental potboiler on the installment plan” [nice phrase] of Will Durant partly because of his large view of history, which unfortunately only got to Napoleon, and the clearness of his writing. 6. Again, I just chose two Modernist philosophers at random. I do like Russell’s prose, despite his insipid politics [I agree with Mr. Salemi here.]; but his accomplishments, particularly in logic, add to his prose a real strength, a power Eliot’s prose never attained. In the philosophic realm, Russell’s is the most limpid prose I can think of; Eliot’s prose doesn’t come anywhere near it, if we are talking “pellucid”. Wittgenstein’s prose is not pellucid, but it is remarkable. My main point is that T. S. Eliot did not write history, or philosophy; his prose did not achieve those arenas, as well as many others. 7. By Mr. Salemi’s “reasoning,” if I really do think Mr. Salemi’s views are bombastic, then my view that Mr. Salemi’s views are bombastic must be objectively correct. Hmm. Reply Joseph S. Salemi October 21, 2018 Am I dealing with undergraduates here? Non-metrical speech in a dramatic situation IS NOT FORMAL PROSE. It is simply speech put into the mouth of a fictional character. The value of any formal prose is NOT BASED ON ITS SUBJECT MATTER. World War II doesn’t make Churchill”s prose any better, and “a large view of history” doesn’t make Durant’s prose any better. I’m amazed that I have to explain this. Eliot was a literary critic, not a historian or a philosopher (though he did do a scholarly dissertation on Bradley at Harvard). Wise assumes that your prose has to deal with big windy subjects if it is to be really good. That’s absurd. But as a matter of fact, Eliot’s prose writings contain a great many important political, social, cultural, and religious judgments. If you prefer Clive James to John Simon, that’s fine. We can agree to disagree. But I don’t think I would let you make up the reading list for my Advanced Composition class. You think (as everyone else thinks) that your personal opinions are objectively correct. That doesn’t mean that they actually are. Don’t try to pull that dime-store relativism here. Reply Wilbur Dee Case October 22, 2018 1. Ad hominum. 2. Eliot never mentioned “formal” prose. 3. I am not amazed I must point out that content matters. 4. Yes, that is the point. 5. More ad hominum. 6. Mr. Salemi: “I consider my opinion on these matters to be objective fact.” 7. Done. Reply Joseph S. Salemi October 22, 2018 You mean “ad hominem,” with an e. Reply Charles Southerland October 22, 2018 Dear Bruce– 1. Rhetoric is not Ad hominum, especially in this case. 2. Why should Eliot have any need to mention “formal” prose? Surely, he expected educated folk to know the difference. (see: Hemingway) 3. Philosophy buffs bloviate on all kinds of subjects. Content matters in context only, wouldn’t you say? 4. Point taken, but not made. You can’t be serious comparing James to Simon. That would be like comparing apples to avocados. 5. The gulf between Ad hom and rhetoric is fairly vast. I vote for rhetoric. 6. Well, Bruce, he is a professor trusted in the realm, no matter what you personally think of him. 7. That relativism thingy keeps popping its ugly head up. It’s why we play: Whack-a-Mole. Reply Erisbawdle Cue October 24, 2018 An appeal against the man, or his character, is an “argumentum ad hominem”. It is a corruption of thought, one that Mr. Salemi, the so-called “professor trusted in the realm”, frequently indulges in. It is neither good, nor thoughtful. Reply Charles Southerland October 25, 2018 Personally, I would be ecstatic for Dr. Salemi to call me an Undergraduate. Secondly, opinions are like **sholes, everybody has one. Some opinions are more thoughtful than others. However, educated opinions aren’t merely opinions to be dismissed out of hand because they are aimed at someone who takes offense at them. Dr. Salemi’s apparent frustration was rich in rhetoric. He could have made it really personal and called someone a dumb-ass. In his response, he teaches and is chiding because what he said shouldn’t have to have been said. I know a good plastic surgeon, if you need a skin graft. Aedile Cwerbus October 22, 2018 Yes, Mr. Case’s Latin is off. Mr. Salemi got the misspelling: ad hominem, third declension, nominative, homo. Reply Erisbawdle Cue October 27, 2018 Though I find Mr. Southerland’s poetry more interesting than most at this benighted moment in history, and I can see he is working on his prose; statements, like he would be “ecstatic” at Mr. Salemi calling him an undergraduate, reminds me of the excesses of the __________ (fill in the blank). Mr. Southerland points out that some opinions are more thoughtful than others. Now that is rich…and deep… But I would not say that Mr. Salemi’s rhetoric matches that of, say, Pomponius Mela, in his “De Chorographia”. As for a needing a skin graft, I do not need a skin graft, I have never needed a skin graft, and I have no intention of needing a skin graft any time soon, or as a matter of fact, ever. I have decided skin grafts are right out. 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