As fiddle lilts its rhymed refrain
it harkens an angelic past.
If only we could now regain
that sweet voice that was ne’er surpassed.

Med’eval times, when hearts were chaste
and men of honor walked this earth,
the words they waxed poetic faced
no chiding for such simple dearth.

These virtues we have not known hence
that lilted forth to grip men’s heart,
in modern days, lie languished since
those held affections play no part.

Where is it that our treasures dwell?
Can wealth be found upon a shore
where epos is an empty shell
and shall not touch us as before?

Ten thousand angels could weep tears
and not more hasten my regret
for feelings treasured through the years
that daily lie unspoken yet.



Mr. Hagerman is a retired Vietnam Veteran, with a college education. He’s been published in Cowboy Poetry Magazine, site anthologies, and currently has a poem in Neologism Poetry Journal. He has been writing poetry for many years and does not limit his art to any particular form, or type. Stephen is currently living in the Great Northwest, he has been accused of having a self-confidence and wit that can be unnerving. ​

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64 Responses

  1. Leo Zoutewelle

    Stephen, I am just a newby in the Society, so I do not think it appropriate for me to initiate opinions, but I did want you to know I enjoyed your poem immensely!

  2. Sally Cook

    I appreciate your intent. In stanza 3, you write as follows:
    I question the use of the verb “lilted” – doesn’t make sense. Also in that line, you refer to “men’s heart” – again, plural “men’s” cannot have only one heart. You are referring to many men, it should read “Man’s heart”‘ i.e., men in general or Man’s heart. Until women went off the charts, this also refrerred to women – that is, humanity in general.
    I’m offering this in a helpful way, as I know you want your poem to be without structural blemish. Let’s see more.

    • Stephen Hagerman

      Thank you Ms. Cook for commenting. You are right “men’s” should be man’s, and I well change that. “lilted” the past participle of lilt. is correct though and does make sense. If you look at S1L1 I use a fiddle’s lilt to describe the poetic flow of old metric verse. and in this line S3L2, I am referring back to that expression.

      verb (used with or without object), to sing or play in a light, tripping, or rhythmic manner.

  3. Joseph S. Salemi

    In the second quatrain, there is no need to write “Med’eval.” The word “medieval” has three syllables by nature, and its orthography doesn’t need to be altered for any metrical reason.

    The proper pronunciation is “med- EE– vul.” Three simple syllables.

    There are too many persons at this site who think that spelling in English always determines pronunciation, and who are so obsessed with syllable-counting that they feel impelled to butcher words with outlandish apostrophes that are unnecessary.

    It’s different with “ne’er” in the first quatrain, since that is a recognized and traditional poetic contraction.

    • Peter Hartley

      I imagine that Stephen is thinking of the once more common (certainly in British English) spelling of “Mediaeval” with an ae diphthong giving the four-syllable pronunciation “med-ee-EE-vul or the simpler “medieval” with the i and e pronounced separately and also giving four syllables. At least his apostrophe for both spellings is in the right place, but whether it is spelt “mediaeval” or “medieval” it is almost invariably pronounced “med-EE-vul” today, on both sides of the pond.

    • Stephen Hagerman

      Thank you Mr. Salemi and you are correct there is no need for using an accent to drop a letter. It is a small matter even in grammar that says one should use an accent to drop a letter. While you’re also correct that I’m doing this to drop a syllable in speech that is no longer there, in med’eval times that was a syllable that was pronounced. I am using that as part of setting the tone and time period of this simple narrative.

  4. Joseph S. Salemi

    Here’s a sample of words and names that have pronunciations somewhat different from their orthography. They have to be learned by ear, not by reading on a printed page.

    Salisbury (looks like four syllables). Is pronounced SAWLS-bry (two syllables)

    Impatience (looks like four syllables). Is pronounced im-PAY-shents (three syllables)

    Forecastle (looks like three syllables). Is pronounced FOK-sill (two syllables)

    Gloucester (looks like three syllables). Is pronounced GLOS-ter (two syllables)

    Comfortable (looks like four syllables). Is pronounced CUMF-tah-bull (three syllables)

    Temperature (looks like four syllables). Is pronounced TEMP-rah-chure (three syllables)

    Edinburgh (looks like three syllables). Is pronounced ED-in-burr-roe (four syllables)

    Magdalen (looks like three syllables). Is pronounced MAWD-lin (two syllables)

    • James A. Tweedie

      Ah, the East Coast and the West Coast! Vive la difference!

      I like this list, but find that the most awkward word in verse is “every,” which has only two syllables but in common speech is articulated as a three-syllable word (EV-er-y) as often as it is pronounced more properly as EV-ree.”With the added (and archaic) poetic contraction of the word to ev’ry, this sustains the illusion that it is, in fact, a three syllable word. This makes it difficult to use in a poem one way or the other since half of the readers will hear it one way and half the other. In several recent poems I have tried my best to avoid the word entirely, which has created a completely different set of challenges.

      As to your list, my experience is that west of the Rockies folks generally pronounce comfortable with all four syllables, COM-fort-a-ble, or COM-fer-ta-ble, just as it is in the dictionary. On the other hand, temperature, while pronounced out here as if it was a three-syllable word, is pronounced, TEM-per-chure rather than TEMP-raw-chure as you apparently prefer to say it in New Yawk. As a result, bean counters are able to find “mistakes” nearly ev-er-ywhere or ev’rywhere they look, whether the syllabic slips are real-ly or re-al-ly there or not.

      • Stephen Hagerman

        Ah, Mr. Tweedie. You are quite perceptive and quite correct. This is done on purpose and for a reason. Colloquialism is part of that reason.

  5. Joseph S. Salemi

    The issue is NOT the readers of our poems. We’re not in this occupation to pander to the various misperceptions and mistakes of the common people, no matter in what various parts of the country they reside

    The word “every” has two syllables. Period. End of discussion. If some people say “EV-uh-ree” what is that to us? If such people misread the word in our poems, why the hell should that bother us?

    I know a lot of people (even the educated) who pronounce the word “often” exactly as it is spelled (OFT-en). That’s an error, even if the pretentious Jacqueline Kennedy said it. The correct pronunciation is “OFF-en), with a silent /t/, and it rhymes with “soften.”

    Poetry is not a retail business. We’re not trying to build a customer base. We have no control over the readership (present or future) of our poems, so it is silly to spend a lot of time worrying over what reader reaction will be to whatever we write. Or task is simply to write the very best material that we can, in the light of our own perceptions and beliefs and canons of taste.

    But worrying about masses of anonymous persons? No way, Jose.

  6. James A. Tweedie

    LOL “Poetry is not a retail business.” Truer words were never spoken!

    Unlike you, however, I do, at times, write with an audience in mind insofar as I would like the content of my poem to communicate as effortlessly as possible, without bad grammar, misplaced syntax or unclear meter to get in the way. So I do take such things into calculation as I create a poem.

    You are, however, also correct to note that I have no control over those who will read my poetry, and while I am always open to constructive suggestions, I am also learning to identify hair-splitting and ignore it.

    • Peter Hartley

      It is wrong to be too prescriptive over the vagaries of English / American English pronunciation because it is so fluid in time and location. The word “vagary” itself was pronounced to rhyme with “canary” in the fifth edition of the Concise Oxford Dictionary (1964) but by the sixth edition (1976) it had changed to VAGUE ary. Between editions who is to say which is right and which is wrong? In Dr Salemi’s list above forecastle is indeed pronounced “FOK sill”. Similarly “gunwale” is pronounced “GUN el”, but other terms of a nautical nature are currently in transition, as for example “bulwark” and “stunsail” (BULL ark” and STUN sl). The word “MAG da len” is pronounced “MAW dlin” when speaking of Oxford and Cambridge colleges, but “MAG da len when referring to Mary in the New Testament. My brother has lived in Edinburgh for the past thirty-five years and there it is pronounced “ED in burrer” where in America the last syllable is “roe” as Dr Salemi says. But some pronunciations are nothing short of perverse, such as the surnames Featherstonehaugh and Cholmondeley (FANshaw or FRE stonhay and CHUM ly respectively) which would appear to indicate that we can pronounce anything any way we like and to hell with everyone else!

  7. Joseph S. Salemi

    Mr. Tweedie and Mr. Hartley are both right concerning the silliness of hair-splitting over minor differences in pronunciation. And certainly the different pronunciation of certain words in the UK and the United States are not worth arguing about. If I say “aluminum” and somebody in Westminster says “aluminium,” it hardly matters. It’s just a regional difference.

    There is a medieval account from the late fourteenth or early fifteenth century about a traveler from London who was having his breakfast in a village somewhere up in the north. He asked his hostess for eggs. The good woman replied that she spoke no French, and did not understand what he wanted. The Londoner took offense, and said that he too spoke no French, but he demanded eggs for breakfast. The argument was resolved peaceably when another visitor told the hostess that the man from London “wolde have eyren.” The hostess said she now understood quite well what was required.

    The account goes on to ask the question “What is the correct plural for the word egg? Is it ‘eggs’ or ‘eyren’?” There is no answer to this, since in those days in the north the correct plural for “egg” was the older Anglo-Saxon form “eyren,” while in the south the newer form “eggs” had become common.

    But the issue here is not about regional variations in speech. It’s about POETRY! We are artists in wordcraft, and that means we do what we can to make our poems beautiful and perfect. We use proper English. We make sure our stresses are in the right spot. We strive to make every line a perfect example of grace, wit, and style.

    And that means we DON’T count syllables, and we DON’T worry about the mispronunciations that might be made by some anonymous reader who happens to peruse our work.

    I am exasperated by students in my poetry class who tell me they can’t use a certain word, because it’s “too unusual” or “strange” and therefore might not be understood by some dimwit. Others tell me they can’t use rhyme, because some modernist types “might be offended” by it. What the hell is going on? Why are we obsessed with audience?

    • Stephen Hagerman

      Mr. Salemi, I applaud your oratory an agree to a certain extent. I do, however, think it is important to consider the reader’s perception when we write, or at least when we edit. Clarity of thought is as important as the thought itself.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Clarity of thought in a poem is intrinsic to the text on the page. It is not something formulated in the reader’s mind. The “reader-response” theory of literature is one of the heresies of postmodernism.

  8. Stephen Hagerman

    Thank you Mr. Mantyk for finally posting one of my poems. I now feel it is appropriate that I might participate in the forum. I’m glad to see this poem is getting a response. I always appreciate input, and look forward to addressing many of these comments.

  9. Lew Icarus Bede

    Mr. Hagerman’s iambic tetrameters bring up an important topic, but I would like to know exactly what he thinks those unspoken feelings are. Mr. Sugar quietly offers one arena. Epos may be an empty shell in the New Millennium; however, it’s not for individuals not trying. Even I, in my distorted manner, have been fighting epos for decades. I prefer Pound’s disaster to all the others since, including Lind, Turner, et. al. But as for that, epos languished even more so in the Medieval Era. I would suggest that because Mr. Hagerman does not limit his art to any particular form or type, that he himself may inadvertently be making epos an “empty shell”. Epos isn’t easy; it is hard.

    Like Mr. Tweedie, I, too, pronounce comfortable with four syllables, and have done so my entire life. CUMF-tah-bull sounds strange to my ears, though I do know (ay, madam) it is common in the country. A simple on-line search, however, garners even more pronunciations of the word.

    Mr. Hartley’s admonition about not being “too prescriptive” is a welcome comment on this thread, as, for example, in pointing out the pronunciations of Magdalen in different contexts.

    After Mr. Salemi’s syllable counting, however, I am surprised he offers the prescriptive “we DON’T count syllables”. Nevertheless, for me this is a very serious topic, and I do count syllables, and I will count syllables, and it matters to me—even if the entire English-speaking world insists it does not. To me, and it may be to me alone, it is central to my understanding of what it means to be a classical poet.

    • Stephen Hagerman

      Yes Mr Bede, I was expecting someone to question the use of epos. More specifically the word refers to an epic poem. but I’m using the term loosely here to express The second definitiin of epic, “a narrative poem in elevated style recounting the deeds of a legendary or historical hero.” What I mean is that poetry was more heroic in the past and dealt with matters of the heart and chivalry . Today poetry has a completely different focus that is centered more on the perspective of the everyday thinker. This line and the use of the word is not intended to reflect on any individual, but the times. I think The body of this poem is an attempt to make that point clear. You should also keep in mind the time at which this poem was written, and the environment I was dealing with some sixteen years ago. Back then metered verse, of any kind, was frowned upon. The very first comment I ever got was, “Loose the rhyme. We don’t write like this anymore.”

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      You count syllables when it is necessary; you DON’T count them when your chosen stress pattern is clear. It’s as simple as that. You count them all the time, Bruce, which is why your poems are as tedious as a metronome.

      The poet Charles Martin once said something about formal verse (in particular, about iambic pentameter). I quote him exactly:

      “Rule Number One: It goes like this: da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM.

      Rule Number Two: It doesn’t do that often.”

      This was a brilliant observation. The fixed idea that an iambic pentameter line can only have ten syllables is absurd. It might have nine, or it might have eleven. And not every foot has to be iambic!

      • James A. Tweedie

        Counting Syllables

        A poem can be lovely as can be
        Although the rhythmic beat is off a bit.
        Sometimes a little flexibility
        With rhyme and rhythm can make it a hit.
        For instance, “Mary had a little lamb”
        Is a poetic pentameter line
        But why begin each foot with an iamb?
        “Mary a little lamb had” ‘sounds just fine.
        And “Quoth the Raven ‘Nevermore.’” Can be
        Rewritten as, “’No more!’ the Raven said.”
        To count each syllable is “dead-beat” tyranny,
        And can, sometimes, make the poem sound dead.
        Actually, both Bruce and Joseph make sound
        Points. Is there, perhaps, some middle ground?

  10. James A. Tweedie

    Bruce, Please give me your definition of “epos” so I can understand it in the context of your comment. At the moment, I’m scratching my head. Thanks.

    • James A. Tweedie

      It’s all good, Bruce. Stephen answered my question in his last comment. My confusion, now resolved, appears to have been with his use of the term, not yours.

  11. Joseph S. Salemi

    Here are some lines from Shakespeare’s Sonnets that do not have ten syllables:

    Is it thy will thy image should keep open… (Sonnet 61, eleven syllables).

    Hath put a spirit of youth in everything… (Sonnet 97, eleven syllables).

    My life, being made of four, with two alone… (Sonnet 45, eleven syllables).

    Of him, myself, and thee, I am forsaken… (Sonnet 133, eleven syllables).

    Here are some lines that do not begin with an iamb:

    After my death, dear love, forget me quite… (Sonnet 72 – choriambic)

    Seeking that beauteous roof to ruinate… (Sonnet 10 – choriambic)

    Steal from his figure, and no pace perceived… (Sonnet 104 – choriambic)

    Profitless usurer, why dost thou use… (Sonnet 4 – dactyl and cretic)

    Dozens of others could be quoted, but the point is made. Shakespeare didn’t count syllables, nor was he slavishly attached to iambs, when writing iambic pentameter verse.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Well quoted and point well made . . . and taken. While the rules and boundaries of poetic form are of utmost importance they are, like the Old Testament Sabbath laws, made for man and not the other way around. Although I will continue to measure my poetic life in both teaspoons and syllables, I will remind my Muse that, together, we must avoid falling into the abyss of syllabic pharisaism.

    • Stephen Hagerman

      Mr. Salemi, I am impressed with your psychic abilities. I have never had the opportunity to return to the 16th century and question William Shakespeare as to his syllabic ponderings. I can see you have a very poor understanding of metric verse though. More specifically the use of prosody in metered verse. What you call choriambics I learned 20 years ago from reading Shakespeare’s sonnets. Back then we called it trochaic substitution, but it is the same think and is a part of prosody. Using accentuated syllabic meter vs strict syllabic meter is also a part of prosody. Frankly I use them both/either depending on what effect I want to achieve. As for counting syllables, I haven’t done that in years. Though, to be honest, I was counting syllables when I wrote this. BUT! there is nothing wrong with either method. It is a matter of choice/taste (If you can use either, all the better). As to your reading of Shakespeare’s lines from his sonnets, your supposed evidence is laughable. Sir You don’t know how to scan metric lines.

      For example:

      “Is it thy will thy image should keep open” is a strict iambic line using feminine rhyme and it is 11 syllables because it is feminine rhyme.

      HOWEVER! ” Hath put a spirit of youth in everything” is ten syllables not eleven. He is using “everything as 3 syllables not 4 “ev-ree-thing”

      In “My life, being made of four, with two alone” He is using 2 unstressed syllable in the second foot. This is also a part of prosody and is seen in certain feet of both loose and strict iambic meter. scanned as x/xx/ Perfectly acceptable.

      In your example, “Of him, myself, and thee, I am forsaken” again Shakespeare is again using feminine rhyme. In the next three lines you point out his use of choriambic lines, but conveniently fail to notice these are 10 syllable lines, not eleven. Frankly I would suggest, to many of you here commenting on this post, that you all need to improve your critiquing skills. To swoop in and criticize one word, or accent, or syllable without first addressing the poem in its entirety. is just plain rude. And it speaks to your lack of social skills.

  12. Joseph S. Salemi

    Dear Mr. Hagerman:

    Can you count?

    An iambic line with a feminine ending DOES have eleven syllables. I would have assumed that to be obvious to anyone.

    HATH PUT A SPI-RIT OF YOUTH IN EV-RY-THING… Those are eleven syllables, even with the elision in the final word.

    MY LIFE, BE-ING MADE OF FOUR, WITH TWO A-LONE… Those are also eleven syllables. The fact that the second foot is an anapest has no bearing on the number of syllables.

    OF HIM, MY-SELF, AND THEE, I AM FOR-SAK-EN… This follows the pattern that I mentioned above for feminine endings. There are still eleven syllables in the line.

    The three lines that I quoted after this were NOT given as examples of eleven-syllable lines, but as examples of line beginnings that were NOT iambic. Do you have a problem with reading comprehension?

    “Trochaic substitution” or choriamb — take your pick. It has no bearing whatsoever on my essential points. Shakespeare is not rigidly iambic in his sonnets, and he does NOT count syllables to make sure he has ten in every line. Moreover, I did not quote these various lines as part of a “critique” of individual sonnets. I quoted them to support my essential points. Your absurd notion that one cannot quote single lines of text without contextualizing them within an understanding of the complete poems they come from is pure pseudo-Romantic twaddle. Individual lines quoted as examples for discussion are normal scholarly practice, and go as far back as ancient Greek and Latin commentators. It’s not a question of being “rude,” but of analyzing text.

    You don’t seem to make a clear distinction between prosody and meter, even though you speak of them as different things. Understanding meter is simply a part of prosody.

    As for “social skills,” no one here attacked you or your poem. All I did was point out a silly, fake contraction which you lamely tried to defend as “done on purpose” for “colloquialism,” and as a way of “setting the medieval tone.” Yeah, sure. Rather that accepting a simple non-hostile criticism, you got defensive.

    I don’t need to improve my critiquing skills. What you need to do is write better poems. You’re just lucky I didn’t give “Unspoken” the critique it really deserves.

  13. Lew Icarus Bede

    1. Mr. Salemi is a decent critic at times. Occasionally, he might even bump into an insight. But his prose lacks the brilliant insights one often saw in the rantings of the more youthful, if less rational, Mr. MacKenzie.

    2. As for Mr. Salemi’s invective about my poetry I could give a fig. As for the thousands of poems I have written, he hasn’t read but a few, and of those few he has read, he has never expressed any depth of perception. I think his poetic vision is so narrow, as to be (Shall I use his worn-out cliche?) as tedious as is a metronome. O, but if I based my poetic vision on writers like him, perhaps I could have the same type of poetic vision as Mr. Salemi does. O, my Lord, I hope not.

    3. Mr. Salemi picks at other poet’s works; but never his own; he’s not that insightful. And though many here like his poetry, and they go on and on about it, I don’t and I won’t. He does offer sound advice occasionally; so if one looks past all the pompous, rude bluster, one can pick up interesting tidbits—don’t expect more than that.

    4. Mr. Tweedie brings up an interesting idea—Who do we write for? Now Mr. Salemi writes: “Or [Our] task is simply to write the very best material we can in the light of our own perceptions and beliefs and canons of taste.” I agree with him on this point. But I suspect his idea is far different from mine. As far as I can tell, I don’t believe I am writing for anyone in this generation. Occasionally, it seems as if there are a few individuals at the briefest of intervals, who seem to appreciate what I am doing; but only just briefly, and fewer than the number of fingers on my hand. So, I’m fairly sure I am not writing for this generation. It has to be some very few people in the future, or else, I am writing for no one at all. And that would be pathetic in so many ways, not least of all for myself; so I can only hope that the future of English poetry is more promising than that.

    5. As to counting syllables, I am in agreement with Mr. Salemi that Shakespeare, my favourite English writer, more so in his poetic dramas than in his sonnets, did not count syllables. I don’t blame Shakespeare, for all he accomplished, he had so many other things to do, particularly in poetic drama, but I will count it to the last syllable of recorded time as one of his flaws. (By the way, we all have enormous flaws in our writing, which one wishes Mr. Salemi could face, for it might improve his criticism.)

    6. I see Mr. Tweedie has not fallen into the “abyss of syllabic pharisaism”; perhaps he is a fishmonger. Whatever the abyss of syllabic pharisaism means it certainly has nothing to do with what I’m working on. O, this World.

    7. Mr. Hagerman, I do hope you have a self-confidence and wit that can be unnerving, as it makes it a lot easier when plowing through the comments @ SCP.

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      Very well, Bruce Dale Wise — I think I’ve finally had enough of your self-absorbed posturing. You obviously think you are God’s chosen vessel for the future survival of poetry, and there’s nothing I or anyone else can do to cure you of that fantasy. It’s not your only delusion — you actually think Shakespeare is deeply “flawed” because he didn’t meticulously count syllables! Well, if we can tolerate the anti-Stratfordians, I guess we can tolerate your strange views.

      As an aside, let me say that it is easy to mock and insult Joseph MacKenzie when he’s no longer present to defend himself. You might find it a bit more “un – COMF – tah – bull” if he were here to kick your butt again.

      But let all that be. Since you think I haven’t sufficiently read or appreciated your poetry, I’ll give a candid critique of a published sample of your work. Here’s a passage from your “Death In The Afternoon,” published on-line some time back:

      His death shown live on television — Victor Barrio —
      On Saturday, in Spain, has crossed the globe in video.
      The bull, named Leonardo, pierced its horn into his chest.
      The cheering audience, aghast, was silenced by the test.

      Bruce, has anyone ever pointed out to you how thumpingly prosaic and bathetic these lines are? They might be used in a textbook as an illustration of hopelessly plodding verse, in the same class as McGonagall’s.

      I can’t conceive how someone could take an intrinsically exciting subject like the killing of a matador by a bull, and turn it into these absolutely dead-regular heptameter rhyming couplets, reducing the entire matter to a sing-song, clip-clop trot without a glimmer of life or energy.

      It is this lifelessness, this dry-as-dust reportage, this complete lack of interest in telling anything other than the mundane facts, that makes your poetry unreadable. Where is the wit? Where is the rhetoric? Where is the thought? Where is the professional command of language that makes a reader listen with pleasure and delight? You might as well have sent a telex to Reuters in terms of what these lines of yours accomplish.

      Here are some suggestions:

      1) Telling people ordinary, mundane facts IS NOT POETRY.
      2) Re-hashing news bulletins IS NOT POETRY.
      3) Writing exclusively in a clumping, plodding heptameter and counting every goddamned syllable IS NOT POETRY.
      4) Endstopping every single line IS NOT POETRY.
      5) Making statements that are as dull as yesterday’s oatmeal IS NOT POETRY.

      Poetry is an art form, dammit! It’s supposed to be beautiful. It’s supposed to be linguistically memorable. It’s supposed to be interesting. It’s supposed to demonstrate at least some literary pyrotechnics. But you write poetry as if you were tiling a bathroom floor.

      There’s a critique for you. I hope it expresses “the depth of my perception” concerning your work.

      And one final note to all readers here at the SCP. This obviously coordinated attack on me over the last few days comes from three persons who reside in the Pacific Northwest: Spicer (Sifton, WA), Wise (Naselle, WA), and Hagerman (Medford, OR). That is the most viciously left-wing part of the country, and the home of Antifa.

    • Joe Tessitore

      Mr. Wise,

      Forgive me for being late to the dance, but I just stumbled upon this – it is spot-on hysterical!
      You had me laughing out loud!

  14. James A. Tweedie

    Mr. Hagermann, I am not one to critique others poetry except on rare occasions and even then only in reference to some odd suggestion or other (and, yes, there have been exceptions when I have said more than I intended). I generally leave the constructive criticisms to Dr. Salemi, C.B. and a few others who are far more versed (pun intended) on poetic niceties than I am. My own poetry, which in my opinion has improved greatly since I joined this site two years ago, is frequently greeted by well-intended suggestions, corrections and even emendations. Some I have learned to ignore for various reasons but most have been on point at least to some degree and from these I have learned to sift the wheat from the chaff and the gold from the dross. There are several strong strong personalities participating with the SCP and it takes both time and patience to sort out who is who and what to expect from them. Although my poetry is personal and important to me, I have come to understand that criticism of one of my poems is not to be taken as a criticism of me, personally. When comments fall to the level of personal insults then it is time to hold our community breath, count to ten, and start over again with at least some semblance of respect and decorum towards one another.

    As for your poem, I enjoyed the tale it told and its yearning for the good things of the past that are sorely lacking in our modern society. I felt that the critiques and suggestions made were more or less on point and not intended to be malicious in any way. I hope you will join me in counting to ten. I also hope that you will continue on as a part of the SCP community. I look forward to seeing more of your poetry. All the best.

    • Stephen Hagerman

      Hahaha! Well, I’m glad you got that off your chest. I am still amazed at your psychic ability. You are able to judge over forty years of a person’s work based solely on the reading of one poem. Mr. Salemi, I find that people with long straight noses usually have an obstructed view. To denigrate the works of many great poets that only wrote in strict metered verse based on the opinion of Joseph MacKenzie, (someone I’ve never even heard of) is pointless. He had and opinion just like you have an opinion. and you are both welcome to your opinions. BTW Shakespeare only wrote in syllabic meter. This is evident in his sonnets and in his poem “The Witches” in trochaic tetrameter, “Macbeth, Act III, scene I.” Indeed! we must condemn anyone that lives in the Great Northwest because they are all crazy liberals and members of Antifa, is absolutely laughable. I’m happen to not be a liberal and the majority of the people in my district vote conservative. Apparently you are not satisfied with attacking someone’s work and feel you must attack their character as well. You sir are pathetic.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        I’ve read plenty of Bruce Dale Wise’s poems, and the brief sample I gave above is quite representative. Do you believe he is one of our “many great poets”? Do you believe YOU are?

        I think that, after you get a Ph.D. in Renaissance English Literature (as I have), you might be able to argue with me about meter. I don’t even think you know what “syllabic meter” means, much less be able to comment on what Shakespeare does.

        You think I’m pathetic? I think you’re a schmuck. (It’s Noo Yawk dialect — look it up).

    • Stephen Hagerman

      Thank you Mr. Tweedie for your input. Yes I agree with most of what you say, however if I am personally attacked by people that don’t know what they’re talking about I will respond. Unfortunately this is a site where one cannot post their own work. They must yield to the whims of the establishment at SCP. I have attempted to offer several of my poems here. To date this is the only one they have chosen to publish, at least thus far.

  15. E. Dauber Sluice

    The Pompous Toad

    The pompous toad sits in his bog, and croaks the whole day long.
    In deep, hoarse sounds he breaks into a cacophonic song.
    His voice is richer than the caw of black crows in the trees;
    he does not doubt his splendid bass superior to these.
    His guttural and froggy squawk outbests the catfish glug.
    His rhythmic tones are grander than the gurgle from a jug.
    The chicken’s cluck, the duck’s quack-quack, they can’t compare to his
    most wonderful, majestic cough, his wheezing, raspy whiz.
    All nature should take note of him. O, yes, he thinks so too.
    His music is remarkable from any point of view.

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      Well, it’s not one of Brucie’s charichords, but it’s in his signature heptameter clip-clop.

    • E. Dawber Sluice

      I was once asked why I critique my own poems. For me the answer is obvious—no one else will—at least with poetic perspicacity.

      What I like most about “The Pompous Toad” is its assonance and onomatopoetic effects: L1 pompous/toad/bog/croaks/whole/long; L2 cacophonic; L3 caw/black/crows; L5 gutteral/froggy/squawk/catfish/glug; L6 gurgle/jug; L7 chicken’s/cluck/duck’s/quack-quack; L8 cough/wheezing/rasp/whiz. Following ancient Greek taste, I play largely off of the voiced and unvoiced stops k and g.

      As to the writing of this tennos, it was fun; and, if it is true, as one suggests, that the meter lends itself to a certain clumsy hilarity, then its tone matches its content, perhaps in the manner of Phaedrus’ iambs. Though found here in this particular strand, the poem is about no single individual, but is rather a type commonly found, especially in the realms of singing/reciting/speaking/writing, and is a quick look at the contrast between an actual toad, which is not that large a creature, and the other animals of the poem, crows, catfish, chicken and duck.

      The picture of the croaking toad is not original; for instance, Dickinson uses it succinctly in her poem “I’m Nobody”. Part of the comical aspect of the croaking toad here relates to the words swirling around its “singing”: richer, splendid, superior, outbests, grander, can’t compare, wonderful, majestic, So that by the time one hits L10, the word remarkable is hard not take ironically, which indeed is so meant to be; and the great scheme of things, even the poem itself, is not that big a deal.

  16. Lew Icarus Bede

    To Criticize the Critic

    Despite Mr. Salemi’s pompous posturing and rabid rhetoric, he does get a few things right.

    1. Right off Mr. Salemi points out: “You obviously think you are God’s chosen vessel for the future survival of poetry, and there’s nothing I or anyone else can do to cure you of that fantasy.” I can’t imagine what the hell he is talking about, unless he means that I take poetry very seriously. In that case, he is absolutely right; but what a strange way of putting it.

    2. I do think Shakespeare was flawed—on so many levels. As are we all. What of that? My argument with the English-speaking world & the syllable comes from my reading of Greek, Latin and Romance language poetry. It haunts me like a power that just won’t leave me alone. In fact, this is exactly where Mr. MacKenzie’s prose outshines Mr. Salemi’s prose for me. I don’t think Mr. Salemi understood what I was saying. Let me say it more clearly. The writer whose prose has most touched me @ SCP has been that of Mr. MacKenzie; even if it is not as rational or fulsomely robust as Mr. Salemi’s. As to the syllable, I think Spenser tried to deal with the syllable more deeply than Shakespeare; but he too, like me could only go so far.

    3. Mr. Salemi’s critique of “Death in the Afternoon” reminds me of that of a petulant school boy; because it is haughty, cursory, thoughtless, and desultory. Be that as it may, let me address his issues, lest I be condemned for not taking them on.

    a. First off Mr. Salemi only looks at the first four lines of the tennos; it would be almost exactly the same as if one was criticizing a sonnet by looking only at the first five lines.

    b. Mr. Salemi is right when he says of the first four lines they are “prosaic”; that is what I am striving for—but failing as well. The “bathos” too is there, but so much more than that. I wonder why he doesn’t go more deeply into the poem.

    c. Here is the poem in toto, which he broke off in the middle of a sentence:

    Death in the Afternoon
    by Edwe Bleca Ruís

    His death, shown live on television—Victor Barrio—
    on Saturday, in Spain, has crossed the globe on video.
    The bull, named Leonardo, pierced its horn into his chest.
    The cheering audience aghast, was silenced by the test,
    as was the bull, its mother too, obliged expedients.
    The voices followed afterwards on social media.
    For some the death was hard. For some the death was bittersweet.
    The animal-rights activists went viral on their tweets.
    They want the banning of the cruel sport; they want it gone—
    death in the afternoon, in Terecuel, Aragon.

    d. By the way, it is a sure sign of critical vacuity and lack of depth in one’s criticism to invoke McGonagall; that is simply too easy. After all, one could label Mr. Salemi’s “A Gallery of Ethopaths” as work along the lines of McGonagall, and be done with it. But does that really get at the poetry?

    e. Nor can I imagine reading the poem, as Mr. Salemi has—galumphing and harrumphing along. That is not how I read.

    f. As one can see, I’m not interested in making it exciting, as Mr. Salemi would like me to; but I am dropping as deeply into understatement as I can, following Hemingway, whose work I admire more than Mr. Salemi’s. I challenge anyone to try in ten lines to capture the incident, memorialize the tragic figure, set the setting, tersely analyze the various audiences, point out the smaller tragedies of the bull and its mother, brush with its controversial aspects, be of our modern moment, embrace journalistic writing (which this is not no matter how much Mr. Salemi might rant), point out the different reactions to the death, and conclude with an utterly dead-panned attitude, found more commonly in Spanish and Latin American poetry of the Realist-Modernist era (1850-1950). Mr. Salemi is absolutely right to note “this lifelessness, this dry-as-dust reportage”; because that is exactly what I am going for; but not for his reasons at all.

    g. Mr. Salemi is hardly my only critic. So many are always telling me what can’t be poetry. And again this is where I differ from everyone, or nearly everyone, in this generation; because I think poetry can be about absolutely anything. I just can’t get metrical verse to go as deeply into mathematical or philosophical thought as I can get patterned free verse. I am a person who advocates for poetry’s power, not a whimpy Audenesque individual who thinks “poetry makes nothing happen”. Yet the tone of “Death in the Afternoon”, I suppose, is Audenesque. So be it.

    • James A. Tweedie


      When I eat out at a nice restaurant and two people at the adjoining table enter into an argument, I can live with that as long as it doesn’t spoil my dinner.

      When voices are raised and the argument becomes more personal, I might signal for a waiter or maitre d’ to see if they can calm things down . . . so I can enjoy my dinner.

      When the argument turns into a public brawl I can only ask that the argument be relocated to some other venue where verbal and/or physical blows can be exchanged in private . . . without further ruining my meal.

      For the sake of the other people who came to this place to enjoy themselves and out of respect for the owner and manager of the establishment, I respectfully request that this exchange be redeployed elsewhere.

      Thank you for considering this request.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Dear Mr. Tweedie —

        In compliance with your request, I shall make no other addition to this discussion thread. The post that is immediately below this one (which I wrote several hours ago, before your most recent post) is my last, no matter what anyone else brings up.

  17. Joseph S. Salemi

    Oh, good God, where to begin?

    Let me try to put aside all polemical bitterness, and just present my case as charitably as possible. Here goes.

    Bruce, if you really “take poetry very seriously,” then why do you refuse to write in any meter except that dopey heptameter clip-clop? Aren’t there vast ranges of poetic possibility that you could attempt, or even simply explore? You say you are well read — well, show us what you’ve learned! Surely you can produce something more than these godawful heptameter slogs.

    If your obsession with syllable-counting “haunts [you] like a power that just won’t leave [you[ alone,” then isn’t that a symptom of some sort of mental disorder? How can you be “haunted” by syllables? How can you be obsessed with and fixated on a certain number of syllables in a poetic line? It just doesn’t sound healthy.

    How can you object to my “petulant” critique of your lines of poetry, while at the same time admitting that I was correct in calling them prosaic, bathetic, lifeless, lacking in excitement, and dry-as-dust? Do you actually WANT your poems to be lousy? I just don’t understand why any poet would desire that.

    Hemingway was a novelist and short-story writer. What does he (or his work) have to do with poetic practice? You say you wanted your poem to have “an utterly dead-panned attitude,” but let’s face it — the poem isn’t “dead-panned,” it’s DEAD. It has absolutely not a flicker of living poetic fire in it. Of what use is that to you, your readers, or anyone? I mentioned McGonagall because your poem shows precisely the kind of unintended comic absurdity that we see in him — metronomic metrics, unvarying end-stoppage, utter banality, the complete absence of metaphor or even rhetorical style — and all of it causing the reader to burst out laughing. Are you deliberately aiming to be the New Millennial McGonagall? Because let me tell you — anyone who reads “Death In The Afternoon” won’t be able to keep a straight face. It’s hysterically funny.

    Sure, poetry can sometimes deal with philosophical thought (as did Lucretius, or Alexander Pope), but it has to do it in poetic ways. As for mathematical thought, why the devil would anyone want to put the complex equations, theorems, and axioms of math into poetry? Isn’t it better just to have them neatly explained (in prose) in one’s textbook?

    But let’s touch on something else. You think you are special, you think you have some kind of destiny to change or fix poetry, you are “haunted” by certain strange obsessions, and you have an aversion to using your real name, preferring those weird charichords. What kind of a syndrome is this?

  18. Lew Icarus Bede

    1. I, too, am happy Mr. Mantyk published Mr. Hagerman’s brief lyric of sixteen years ago. In this respect Mr. Mantyk is one of the foremost editors of traditional styles of poetry. What is so good about Mr. Mantyk’s practice is he allows poets from around the World to contribute—both to the poems and to the comments, with only minimal, but real, checks. However, because there are millions of poetic voices, and he has to limit his publishing input to the hundreds, it is a difficult task. His effort touches on the heroic.

    2. Mr. Tweedie here reminds me of Mr. Snell in George Eliot’s “Silas Marner”, because by nature he is a conciliatory person and likes to settle arguments for the sake of his business. But I would point out to Mr. Hagerman that it is usually not the likes one gets that firms up one poetic power, though it can add juice, but rather it is the negative comments that allows one to argue one’s points. Also, if one gets no, or very few comments, on one’s poem, which is typical with my poetry published @ SCP, that is when one can articulate one’s poetic principles oneself. That, I suppose, is the main reason I began seriously writing poetic criticism; it became a by-product of my own creative activity.

    3. I learned early on, in a poetry class with Elizabeth Bishop as the instructor, the lesson of negative criticism. I had written a paper on Wallace Stevens’ “The Comedian as the Letter C”. She believed the paper was too good for an undergraduate student, and must have been plagiarized. [Actually it was an “all-nighter” rush-piece in one of those horrid, tiny, confined dormitory study rooms.] She required that I come to her office, and she quizzed me on the meanings of dozens of words Stevens had used in his poem. [Luckily for me I had done my work, and had defined each of the words above the word she asked; it was a habit I had developed when I began reading Henry James in high school.] Anyway, even though I could answer every question she asked, she disagreed with every definition I gave from my Webster’s Dictionary. Though she couldn’t convict me of her accusation, she still believed I had plagiarized the essay—which frankly was not that good. It was at that time that I began to perceive the imperfection of poets’ perceptions and their criticisms, which I have since had proven to me time and time again.

    4. As to rejection, one has to have the stamina of a marathoner. Even today, when I usually have a poem or two published weekly in journals, literary magazines, anthologies, and/or on the Internet, I still get far more rejections than acceptances; nevertheless, one just has to keep on trying…and going. Still, ironically constant rejection has helped me achieve so much of what I’m striving for. By the way, I would be interested in seeing any poems you may have on your experiences in Vietnam; and I thank you for your service.

    • Stephen Hagerman

      Thank you once again for your input Mr. Bede. I also have experienced change and improved my work over the years in much the way you describe. With the addition of a great deal learned in a poetry workshop, and from the many years of personal experience. This poem is an example of learning from input, and has been changed and improved many times over the years. Though this post is new to the site, it is a very old poem that has been posted on many sites and in forums. It has been read and appreciated by hundreds of people and critiqued dozens of times. The language and construction has all been well considered. The archaic words, the attempt at creating a chivalrous tone, the sonics , and yes even the choice of form have all been taken into consideration. To have written this poem about the old masters that wrote in strict syllabic meter and do it in another form such as accentual verse would have been completely out of context with the message I am conveying here. A narrative in cross-rhymed strict iambic tetrameter quatrains is the way they wrote in the time period this poem addresses. Yes I have written poems about my experience in Vietnam and about war, but many of those are in free verse, or have beern published elsewhere.

  19. Sub Cie Leeward

    As to Mr. Hagerman’s poem, I can’t help but think of E. A. Robinson’s Miniver Cheevy.

    “He missed the mediævel grace
    Of iron clothing.”

    Mr. Hagerman’s critique of the meter of one excerpt from Mr. Salemi’s long “A Gallery of Ethopaths” is spot on. Though flawed in occasional places, I found his analysis of Mr. Salemi’s loose meter to be worth the time to read through. He certainly put more thought and effort into it, than any responder.

    Finally, his own bio elsewhere, suggested the following tennos:

    Stephen Hagerman

    He graduated high school back in 1969,
    and served the US Air Force for four years, a hard dark time.
    In Vietnam, he flew 10,000 hours in the air,
    and visited some sixty countries, somewhere “over there”.
    He graduated college with a technical degree,
    his major being in electrical technology.
    He worked as an industrial technician decades long,
    with a C-10 electrical contractor’s license bond.
    He traded for a thirty-seven-foot-long cutt’r-rigged ketch,
    and spent ten years at sea; yes, that is really quite a stretch.

    • Stephen Hagerman

      Hahaha! Mr. Sub Cie Leeward (which is quite a stretch in its self.) I see you’ve visited my LinkedIn page. Good for you, You might glean from that that I have lived an Illustrious life. So much so that poetry is but a small part of it. For those that have lived a sheltered life, hanging out in book stores and the like, setting behind a desk, glued to your computer screen, you have my pity.

      As to Mr. Swami Salami, Poetry is knowledge and talent. But, more importantly, it is understanding this artform. I am not going to stand around and marvel at the king’s new cloths, when the king chooses to walk around his kingdom naked.

  20. Joseph S. Salemi

    Oh God — the two idiots have returned. Can’t they just give up?

  21. Sub Cie Leeward

    Mr. Salemi [July 25, 2019]:
    “I shall make no other addition to this discussion thread. The post that is immediately below this one (which I wrote several hours ago, before your [Mr. Tweedie’s] most recent post) is my last, no matter what anyone else brings up.”

    Sub Cie Leeward [August 19, 2019]:
    “Nay, sir, that is not so.”

    Mr. Salemi [Augst 17, 2019]:
    “Oh God—the two idiots have returned. Can’t they just give up?”

    Sub Cie Leeward [August 19, 2019]:

  22. Joseph S. Salemi

    Since Bruce Dale Wise and Stephen Hagerman have taken it upon themselves to bait me once more, I have no choice but to defend myself. I’m truly sick of these two jackasses (one an incompetent and laughable poetaster, the other a rank amateur who is ignorant of metrics) trying to generate attention for their wretched work by picking fights with me. Well, here is my retaliation in verse. And I assure both of them that it will be eternized in print in my next book, for all posterity to see. I’m certain that’s the only fame Wise and Hagerman can hope for, and I’m more than delighted to give it to them. To both of them I say: Congratulations! You’ll now join that immortal company of dorks who have been publicly dissected by famous writers: John Partridge by Jonathan Swift; Gabriel Harvey by Thomas Nashe; Charles Kingsley by John Henry Newman; Thomas Shadwell by John Dryden; and C.M. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.


    I’ll sing a song to Bruce Dale Wise, and Hagerman (named Steve) —
    They seem to want to prolong fights, and so I’ll give a heave
    And crank my engine up again, to flame their sorry butts.
    I don’t know why they’re starting up — it’s really rather nuts
    For them to come back to the field where lately they were whipped.
    I guess they long for punishment, and want their dermis stripped.
    Very well, I shall oblige. Here comes a broadside volley
    To chastise their impertinence and unexampled folly.
    Perhaps they will remember that you shouldn’t start a flyting
    With someone who has verbal skills well honed from constant fighting.

    But let’s address the poetry: I’m writing in fourteeners
    Since Bruce Dale Wise produces them, like Nathan’s grinds out wieners.
    I want to show that this verse line can actually work well
    For straight satiric comedy, and doesn’t have to smell
    Like month-old fish piled up in heaps, or dead rats under boards,
    Or used for humdrum news reports, and signed with charichords.
    So gather round, dear listeners, and hearken to my ode,
    Wherein I’ll skewer Bruce and Steve in sharp Skeltonic mode.

    Both these men are pompous dopes, who strut like popinjays
    Pretending they are what they’re not. They live within a haze
    Of self-delusion, fantasy, and hunger for attention.
    They want the world to notice them, and — what is more — to mention
    Their work in tones of heartfelt praise. Especially Bruce Dale,
    Who must critique his posted work because (to no avail)
    He’s desperate to get comments on the verses that he scrawls.
    But frankly, he would do no worse on lavatory walls.
    His poetry’s as dumb as dirt, and just as soporific
    As aspirin in heated milk, and — to be more specific —
    So deadly dull that no one here can bear to comment on it
    (Especially the “tennos,” which is just a half-assed sonnet).
    As for Steve, I wonder if he’s got a working brain.
    He claims his life’s “Illustrious” — my God, is he insane?
    That term’s reserved for geniuses, or heads that wear a crown,
    Or men of high achievement, stature, fame, or great renown.
    Steve, get real — come back to earth — no matter how you work it,
    You don’t become “Illustrious” by fixing shorted circuits.

    However, to the basic point: They’re hopelessly unlettered
    When it comes to metric sense. Their wits are clamped and fettered
    Around the strange and sick idea that syllables are counted
    Regardless of the natural stress upon which words are mounted.
    They cannot write, they cannot read, they cannot even scan —
    For them a verse is solely judged by how it fits a plan
    As rigidly constraining as a corset or brassiere
    Or one of those tight girdles on a chubby woman’s rear.
    They haven’t got a clue as to how English meter works —
    They’re just a pair of amateurish, unresponsive jerks.
    They stupidly count syllables like waiters tally tips,
    Or gamblers in casinos count their stack of roulette chips.
    Poor Wise can’t write a poem that’s not one bathetic flop,
    While Hagerman thinks Shakespeare wrote ten syllables — and STOP!
    Dear Bruce comes here to posture as a learned, well-read bloke
    Who knows a lot of litt — ra — chure, and how one ought to cloak
    A mass of worthless news reports in good fourteener style,
    Presenting readers with an undigested boring pile
    Of sheer ennui and tedium. God God, he cannot see
    That what he writes is mewling crap, as weak as tepid tea?

    As for Steve, they say he spent ten years on oceans tossed.
    What happened? Was his compass gone? Or did his maps get lost?
    He went to sixty countries — well, I wonder, why was that?
    Was law enforcement after him, or was he just a rat
    The Mafia had marked out for embezzlement of cash?
    Or was he just absconding from a marriage that went smash?
    Hagerman says poetry is knowledge joined with talent.
    Too bad that he has neither thing. Of course, I think him gallant
    To openly admit verse is “a small part” of his life.
    Thank God for that! Let’s hope he’s better on the drum and fife.
    But since he is “Illustrious,” I hardly think it matters —
    Both he and Wise have just been thrashed, and left in rags and tatters.

    I hope the reader sees from this fourteeners can make odes.
    They need not be the leaden bombs that Bruce Dale Wise explodes.
    They can do more in poetry than serve as end-stopped slogs
    As putrid and unwieldy as a stack of rotten logs.
    I have no more to add to this, except one final warning:
    Don’t bother me again, you two, or more will be aborning.

  23. Sub Cie Leeward

    Mr. Hagerman, do think the great Swami Salami has really bestowed immortal notoriety upon us? O, I do hope so. [I had been putting my hope in Mr. Burch.] I did like the joke that he fashions himself a Dryden, a Swift, or a Stevenson—a Stevenson?

    Anyway, I just wanted to let you know, despite the noise on your thread, that I have slightly revised the poem and have included the word “illustrious” in both the title and the poem, which, though done in fun, includes genuine admiration.

    • Stephen Hagerman

      Mr. Sub Cie Leeward, that’s quite a moniker. Somehow I doubt I would find that name on your birth certificate. What exactly do you mean by “Sub Cie” I mean, I always picture shipwrecks as being subsea. No I didn’t take offense to your little ditty, but it is far off the mark. You should have noticed on my LinkedIn page that I was offering a brief overview of my work related experiences. Just an outline, if you will. Actually this poem would be closer to the truth.

      Imperfect Moments

      So many moments come to me.
      I’ve combed the beaches of the world,
      Stood moonlit nights in trailing seas
      On decks awash with sails unfurled.

      I’ve cut salt spray on freshened breeze
      Where only soaring frigates dare.
      Seen sunsets no one ever sees
      From sitting in an office chair.

      I’ve glimpsed the wonder of God’s hand
      In places never touched by man.
      Weighed anchor from the Rio Grande
      To seaports circled south of Cannes.

      Yet for a life that others dream
      My perfect moment never known.
      Some moments may hold high esteem,
      But all I’ve done I’ve done alone.


      • James A. Tweedie

        Stephen, there is a poignancy in this poem that touches me deeply. I have often travelled to amazing places and seen amazing things (including sunsets) with no one but myself and my camera to share the moment. God once observed that is not good that Man should be alone.” There is something deeply and profoundly true in this. In sharing this poem you have, in a way, brought me alongside you on your travels. Personally, in any number of ways, I found this poem more successful than the one that began this post. As I said earlier, I hope to see more of your work in the future.

      • Stephen Hagerman

        Thank you Mr. Tweedie, I’m glad you appreciated the sincerity of this narrative. As far as seeing more of my work, that is not up to me, and I doubt I will continue here. Too many snobs and haters. Why on earth they call this site “The Society of Classical Poets” escapes me. This seems to be a clique for NewMillennial snobs who are more concerned with their own ego than poetry in general. At least that is the impression I get.

  24. Joseph S. Salemi

    Bruce the Goose (the McGonagall of Naselle) has “genuine admiration” for Stephen Hagerman, the metrically illiterate (but “Illustrious”) electrician.

    Birds of a feather, I suppose.

    • Stephen Hagerman

      Hahaha! Mr. Swami Salami, I’m not surprised that you have difficulty identifying simple iambic tetrameter. You know, I have access to a bolt of fabric you could use. It is a cloth woven with thread spun so fine, it’s nearly as invisible as your meter. My cousin’s brother-in-law has a warehouse. I could get it for you at practically wholesale. All joking aside, After reading your post I would recommend you stick to academia and leave the actual writing of poetry to people who do have talent.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        And you should go back to replacing blown fuses and rewiring outlets. And maybe sailing your boat for another ten years, until you find out where you’re heading.

        All joking aside, you couldn’t write a poem to match anything I have posted at this website, even if your life depended on it. Believe me — when it comes to poetry, you’re a loser.

  25. Aedile Cwerbus

    “Imperfect Moments” is a delightful poem in the manner of John Masefield. Mr. Hagerman’s poem is certainly more traditionally poetic than Sub Cie Leeward’s, e. g., “moonlit nights in trailing seas” or “cut salt spray on freshened breeze”. His abab quatrains in iambic tetrameters are smooth; and I enjoyed his mentioning of actual places, like “Rio Grande” and “Cannes”. In the last stanza, Mr. Hagerman thoughtfully comes to the title, where he notes that there was no “perfect moment”, a nice admission; and yet to counter that he justifies that he did it on his own, alone. This reminds me of Hermann Hesse’s thought that, in the end, each person is, alone.

    Of course, what Sub Cie Leeward is trying to incorporate into his tennos are things not commonly found in poetry, much to the chagrin of nearly all NewMillennial critics. But in this, by embracing Modernist experimentation, as well as traditional streams of poetry, he has found little empathy.

    I agree with Victorian critic J. W. Mackail in writing about Quintilian:

    “His own preference for certain periods and certain manners is well marked. But he never forgot that the object of criticism is to disengage excellencies rather than to censure faults: even his pronounced aversion from the style of Seneca and the authors of the Neronian age does not prevent him from seeing their merits, and giving these ungrudging praise.”

    • Stephen Hagerman

      My humble thanks Mr. Cwerbus, This is just another simple narrative and it is even earlier than my original post. While I’m not aware of John Masefield’s work, I am familiar with Hermann Hesse and his philosophy. Yes, in the end we are all alone, and living the life I’ve lead has made me a stronger, more self-confident person. To Mr. Salami’s chargrin I’m sure. I think many put too much emphasis on the structure of a poem when the structure is merely a vehicle. These NewMillennial poets are too obsessed with the structure, or non-structure. What they are writing is the same thing I’ve seen novice writers producing for eons. If you visit any Facebook poetry page you can find the same thing Mr. Salami is writing and, in many cases, is superior to his work. To lament the passing of the local bookstore and then mention that his books are available online is an absurdity upon absurdity. No, If a poet laureate holds up a poem and says THIS is what poetry should be, I guarantee you they will not be talking about the structure. Metered verse has long had its structures defined, the task of any good poet is to find and use the structure that best suits the message he/she is trying to convey.

  26. Rod Walford

    I have just read this wonderful thread from beginning to end. I was unsure quite what to think at the start and even more unsure at the finish! But I do think Mr Hagerman has summed it all up beautifully in his final sentence. If I may draw the comparison – the singing of (Sir) Rod Stewart may be far from perfect but it sure can touch the heart at times! My own conclusion? Over analysis causes paralysis.

    • Stephen Hagerman

      Thank you Rod, this has been a well admired allegory by many over the years and it sufficiently expresses my love for poetry. Mr Frost wrote in his first book of poetry:

      “Originality and initiative are what I ask for my country. For myself the originality need be no more than the freshness of a poem run in the way I have described: from delight to wisdom. The figure is the same as for love. Like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melting.”— Robert Frost

      Indeed! If you understand what he’s telling you, this is a good analogy of what poetry is supposed to be. It , as many think, is not for/about you, it is about what you can get others to see. I think Frost (the codling moth) had a unique way of expressing himself. I especially like his use of personification to tell his story in some of his most loved works. Whatever direction this genre is headed today, I could not say.


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