As I thought, your elaborations were very interesting. Thank you for indulging me.
It's an very interesting looking back at the "nobody" stanza colored by your commentary on your intentions. It's a stylistic choice that I'd not have made, but that's what's so fun about looking at what other writers choose to do.
It's these sorts of things that make art and artist's own, and it's so interesting how much can hinge upon a single word choice.
About the longer lag on "no one," that's so interesting. I'm a reader/writer to my core, it's always been my passion, so I never thought about how it might be read differently by someone who's not an avid reader.
I read so much that when I read (and write) I hear it in my head in speech patterns. I guess I never considered that might not always be the case. To me, when I speak "no one" I speak it as one word, so I read it the same way. But I suppose someone reading off a page might verbalize the space.
As for counting syllables, I never do it while I draft, but when I refine, I often use it to find what's bothering me. I often try to tighten up my poetry to follow a certain rhythm all the way through. I haven't really engaged my inner artist on poetry for a long time, since I prefer prose. Any recent poetry I've done has been pure fun and games. Perhaps I should challenge myself to writing a poem and playing more with the rhythm.
The crow hands thing is funny to me, so I guess I fall into that category. It actually stuck out to me because it made me giggle in a poem that's otherwise pretty dark.
Since it stuck out as the only bit quite that surreal in the poem, I wasn't sure it was intentional. I know I've read something by you before because I recognize your name, but I wasn't aware enough of your past work to know if this was the typical type of imagery you used. I'm watching your work now, though, and I look forward to reading more.
As for critics who feel superior to the artist, I think people for some reason tend to switch modes. Everyone has a set of perspectives when it comes to art. They have the artist, the fan, and the critic. I'm of the opinion we should strive to be all three, always.
When critiquing, I feel people often forget what things are like from the other perspectives. They forget that as an artist you want creative freedom and as a fan you forgive imperfections. They don't bring their artists' desire to learn or their fans' bubbling love of art to the critiquing process, and those are important bits that color any discussion of art.
I think it might come from a lot of people's limited experience with critique. When you grow up receiving critiques from parents, teachers, and other authority figures, I think it's easy to get the idea that a critique is a handing down of knowledge. But in a society of peers, the critical process should be one of open discourse and learning on both sides.
I always find it inspiring to talk to someone who is passionate about their work, and this is no exception. Now if only I could take a break from all the great books, tv shows, and video games I'm engrossed in long enough to do some creating of my own.
Interesting, I'd like to ask you a bit more about some of the choices here. I'm not trying to push my opinions on you, I'd just like to explore the mind of a fellow writer.
About "no one" vs "nobody" I think the speed with which "nobody" is spoken, with the final two syllables sort of rushing out is what breaks the rhythm for me. When I read it, I feel like I have to speed up the rhythm briefly to get "nobody" out.
Perhaps it also has to do with the line before that one ("But the things they seem to tell me") being tied for the longest line in the poem at 8 syllables. By comparison the other 8 syllable line is followed by a 6 syllable line.
Your average set is 13 syllables, with a couple 12s and 14s. This particular set is your longest, with 15. "No one" would bring it down to 14, closer to the average. Maybe that's what I was picking up on.
I'm honestly not sure. It was an instinctual pick, and all that analysis above was done after your response in an effort to find what it was that bothered me. Perhaps it just boils down to a stylistic choice.
Moving on to the "soon to break" thing, I understand your point. It makes sense, but I still think I'd prefer to be shown her heart breaking in the present than to be told about it breaking in the future. Still, your explanation has cleared up your thinking on that, and it makes more sense to me now.
Where "soon to break" was my biggest hang up before, I find my biggest hang up, now that you've explained that, to be "A noose amongst their hands." I know it's poetic imagery, but I'm having a hard time getting past the image of crows with hands *grin*.
Anyway, I hope you don't mind me using your poem to explore my understanding of the craft and why I had the instinctual hang ups that I did. I'm glad you found some of my advice interesting or useful and I hope you find this reply similarly so.
While I've been a bit long winded about my hang ups with this poem, I want to make sure it's clear that these are certainly minor things that don't take away from the overall greatness of the work. I really do like it quite a bit.
You're a very creative person and it's clear you are very passionate about your world, story, and craft. I personally find it inspiring to see. I'm personally still hunting the story I want to tell that I can be that passionate and creative with.
In terms of vision and impact, you can't ask for a whole lot more. The imagery is chilling and beautiful at the same time, and it's delivered strongly and succinctly.
I gave you four stars on originality, because while I feel the themes and actors you've used are common in poetry, you've used them well. You've created something that manages to be simultaneously unique, and yet feel almost old, as if it belongs in a book of old spooky poems next to The Raven.
In terms of technique I felt there were only a few hiccups, and they were minor.
In the second stanza, I think "no one" would flow better than "nobody"
In the third stanza, I find myself wondering why the weeping maiden's heart is "soon to break" when it seems as if it is or should be already broken, or at least in the process of breaking. Something like, "I watch as her heart breaks," perhaps?
The fourth stanza you switch tenses briefly to future tense to talk about "The crows will flutter downward," and then back to present when "They take the maiden away." This could be fixed easily by just dropping the word will, for "The crows flutter downward."
Also in the fourth stanza, you refer to a noose amongst the hands of the crows, but crows don't have hands. You could preserve the rhyme by having them place the noose into her hands instead.
The final stanza I think is flawless and the strongest part of the poem. It's a very powerful finish, and it's absolutely chilling.
Overall, my critiques are minor ones, and I think this is cool, chilling, powerful, and darkly fun.