‘The Reindeer’ and Other Poems by Brian Yapko The Society October 17, 2020 Beauty, Culture, Poetry 18 Comments The Reindeer The reindeer winter-cries in vain for his lost mate His cry turns brittle frosty-mist, ascends the clouds. His hooves make run, his antlers gouge the whited shrouds That veil the trees. He stops. The land is desolate: A savagery rests still and wild—the trees are stark The air is cutting, rivers break, the woods are dark. Reflections are instilled within the freezing streams, Mirror to a world which lives and preys on dreams. Silent falls the night, it speaks no calm or peace. The birds are gone, the leaves are dropped, the wind is dead. As winter grips the savage land, so does life cease Or wish it would. The snow beyond the grove is red, Fierce-trampled. Here a starving wolf has preyed and killed. The reindeer lashes torment at the bitter cold; Breaks the silence, screams its anguish. And grows old. The night rests quiet. Life rests, too, when death is willed. A Sonnet Set in 1933 This new administration may do well. The radio reports that happy days Are here again. If so then whence this hell In pauper shades of sepias and greys? While Hollywood spins glitter into cash Fitzgerald slowly drinks himself to death The Ritz retains the acrid smell of ash Depression’s drought rains dust upon the heath. In Europe, a new chancellor urges hate, Denounces goodness, shutters every door But one—expansion of a master state His selfish struggle pointing towards war. The struggles of this brave new world make clear Fear’s not the only thing we need to fear. Brian Yapko is an attorney residing in Santa Fe, New Mexico. NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 18 Responses Christopher Lindsay October 17, 2020 I enjoyed your 1933 poem. I also watch a lot of 1930s movies. Reply BRIAN YAPKO October 17, 2020 Thank you very much! Reply Margaret Coats October 17, 2020 “The Reindeer” makes excellent use of the hexameter line, and presents a wealth of detailed images that suggest, rather than say, what seems to be happening. This is a good choice for the “speech acts” of an animal poem. The profound point about life arises merely from reflection on the word’s appearance in lines 11-12, and its reappearance in the final line. Well done. The 1933 sonnet is a great presentation of a significant moment in time, with the present succinctly described and the now-known future outlined at the same time. Love the color in “pauper shades of sepias and greys.” The couplet is magnificent in juxtaposing a reference to Huxley’s novel, Brave New World (published 1932) concerning a “master state,” to the inaccurate, but at the time inspiring, inaugural address (1933) of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Reply BRIAN YAPKO October 17, 2020 Thank you, Margaret. I really appreciate the detailed analysis and observations. I’m especially glad to know that the Huxley reference was caught. Reply C.B. Anderson October 17, 2020 Brian, Methinks I read the first poem here a couple of months ago, but my problems with it haven’t changed. I am not familiar with the verb “winter-cry.” Is this supposed to mean a cry that’s made in winter? Yes, yes, I know you have a valid poetic license, but there must have been other ways to express the idea. A fact check: “[H]is lost mate” Do not reindeer, like most herding herbivores, have alpha males that control a harem of females? Such animals would worry less about a lost mate than about some other male trying to obtain her favors. And I want to know exactly how anyone or anything ascends a cloud. Almost anything can ascend TO a cloud, but once there, what’s left to be done? I can understand why others have approved of this poem, but for me it seems like an aborted early effort by Matthew Arnold. The second poem is not bad, but it needs some punctuation at the end of lines 6, 7, & 11. I think the final couplet is superb, reminding us of FDR’s famous words. Reply BRIAN YAPKO October 17, 2020 I appreciate your comments. Entirely poetic license in poem one where I was going for a mood irrespective of scientific accuracy. And I will look at punctuation more closely on my next poems. Reply Margaret Coats October 17, 2020 One can ascend clouds (plural) by using them (figuratively) as steps, as when one literally ascends stairs. The cry becomes colder as it goes up in the atmosphere, in accord with science. Reply C.B. Anderson October 17, 2020 Margaret, That’s a far cry and a big str-e-t-c-h, which is allowable, if only barely tolerable. As we have all learned recently, Science is for sale. Reply Margaret Coats October 17, 2020 Stretch your imagination to the Hebrew Genesis and to ancient China. Jacob’s Ladder is often illustrated as a staircase of clouds with angels ascending and descending. The Chinese Immortals ascended into heaven on clouds. To see that the conveyance is just as likely to have been a cloud stairway as a single cloud hovercraft, search for “dhgate ladder of clouds” from Chinese decorator firm dhgate, and scroll down for a variety of forms. Susan Jarvis Bryant October 17, 2020 Brian, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both of these poems. “The Reindeer” for the vivid imagery that brings the words alive with a flourish of linguistic magic. I like your innovative use of language – it’s especially effective in; “The snow beyond the grove is red,…” the “Fierce-trampled” that follows is a wonderful touch. “A Sonnet Set in 1933” conveys a serious message in keeping with our times, and uses some admirable images to do just that. Like Margaret, one of my favorites is those “pauper shades…”. I also like the idea of Hollywood spinning “glitter into cash”. Thank you! Reply BRIAN YAPKO October 18, 2020 Thank you so much! Reply Sally Cook October 18, 2020 Air can have color, flowers sometimes sing in harmony, and animals can feel grief and loss, so why cannot one climb a cloud? Come on, CB, this is a poem, not a lesson, as I know a poet of your stature knows very well. In such a construct, your driver’s license will always be trumped by your poetic one. Brian, you have managed to capture the fierce, frozen desolate plane on which your poetic reindeer lives. He is caught between feeling and knowing; a terrible place to be. I have stood in his world in deep winter and . immediately recognized his dilemma. “Reindeer” has some powerful moments. Reply C.B. Anderson October 18, 2020 If air had color, Sally, no one would be able to see anything through it. And please send me some seed for those singing flowers you mention. Do we really KNOW that animals feel grief & loss, or do we just imagine that they do? Yes, I understand the nature & function of metaphor, but no one here is ascending clouds — it is the cry turned brittle-frosty that does so, which isn’t difficult to imagine. It’s probably a good thing for us that Nature doesn’t really imitate Art, for otherwise the world would be unnavigable. Reply Margaret Coats October 18, 2020 I’m back to comment that Mr. Anderson is such a good questioner that I must give a fuller reading of “The Reindeer.” In fact, answers are almost visible in his questions. He objects that a reindeer does not lose his mate, as the herd bull has multiple mates, and young bucks have to attract female favors surreptitiously, if they cannot compete for herd bull position. This tells exactly how it is that the individual reindeer in this poem loses his mate. He is an aging buck, possibly sick or injured. Animals do not reflect on the process of aging; therefore Brian, the poet, tells about the old buck’s condition through images, until in the next-to-last line, he confirms that his reindeer is now old, and indeed dying or already dead. The poem does not say how death takes place, but implies that it does by the poet’s uses of the word “life.” All of this is set up in the poem’s first line, where the reindeer “winter-cries in vain for his lost mate.” The bitter weather of this poem is mid-to-late winter, when the reindeer breeding season has ended (or nearly so), and the herd bull is exhausted. He has no time to feed during mating season; he spends any free time fighting off younger bucks. The reindeer in this poem is in the winter of his life, losing his status and his last mate. The creative word “winter-cries” is not just a cry made by this deer in winter; it suggests the distinctive mating cries heard from mid-autumn to mid-winter, suggesting that this particular cry is a final, unsuccessful appeal for a mate, made by an animal in his final season. In the second line, the cry almost freezes as it ascends the clouds. The cloud ascent image is justified by widely used cultural symbols. And air temperature does go down as the sound waves of the reindeer cry (or anything else, such as airplanes) go higher in the atmosphere–the reader who doubts this needs to do further fact-checking. Brian may have been working more for mood than for scientific accuracy in “The Reindeer,” but nature supports him. He is lucky, but successful, as he could not have been had reindeer mating season been in the summer. The only change I might suggest now is a comma after “lives” in line 8, because the real world lives, but does not live on dreams. Rather, it preys on dreams–such as the winter-crying reindeer’s wish for another mate. Reply C.B. Anderson October 18, 2020 This is all very complicated, Margaret. Was it Robert Frost who said, “Too much explanation can ruin a poem”? Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant October 18, 2020 Margaret, “The Reindeer” has been enhanced by your explanation, and I thank you wholeheartedly for going the extra mile. I am not au fait with the life cycle of a reindeer and this insight has enabled me to appreciate Mr. Yapko’s poem on another level. I was enjoying this poem as a conceit – a metaphor for the Winter of our lives, and this other dimension has given me further appreciation for this remarkable piece. Thank you! C.B. while I may be able to write a reasonable poem, I often have trouble with the analysis side of the art. Margaret and others are showing me the way, and I’m grateful for this sort of input. It enhances my experience on SCP. Reply C.B. Anderson October 20, 2020 Margaret is an expert to whom every reader here at SCP is eternally indebted. If I detect a flaw in her approach, it is only that she is too forgiving and willing to go to great lengths to justify sub-par work. She has done the same with some poems I’ve written, so it’s not for me to complain. As for you, SJB, you are peerless, and your work is nonpareil. BDW October 19, 2020 A note from Wilude Scabere: Though Pope admonishes: ‘Tis hard to say, if greater want of skill Appear in writing or in judging ill; But, of the two, less dang’rous is th’ offense To tire our patience, than mislead our sense.” Although I disagree with Pope’s assessment and his numbers! his point is valuable; however, I do not think it is our era’s problem that we have too much criticism, but rather that we have far too little with too little depth. That is definitely true @SCP. Though I may disagree with Ms. Coats in her assessments, I have found her judgments, among the best @SCP. I do enjoy Mr. Anderson’s critiques, although I am not surprised that he resorts to Frost. A note from Usa W. Celebride: It is good to be reminded by Mr. Yapko of the shift to federalism in America, which happened across the Globe in the early 20th century with the Russian Communists, Italian Fascists, Japanese Imperialists, German National Socialists, Chinese Communists, countless dictatorships, etc. Sadly such dictatorships still fill the Globe and threaten New Millennial republics. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.