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Chicago—Sleeping In

a tremulous yawn to rouse her trees,
the city awakens;

hush of night wanly surrenders
to serenades ... a lark’s swelling chatter;
—weather predicting

legions of Early Risers
greet the morning sober with dreams of sleep;
—schedules keeping, (those poor souls)

school-children, ambling in their sweet daze,
hopeful of Nature’s favor ask;
does it snow? does it rain?

the sounds of progress invade
my urban hamlet and hollow,
hasten a pulse, low and increasing

from the window
I consider your slumber, your bliss;
passing contented, the weightless moments
in this idle break of day

silent,
I draw the silken veil
against morning’s widening embrace,
the lark still sings, I ask;
does it snow? does it rain?




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Change log:

[1-16-07] Title modified from 'Sleeping In'; Opening lines swapped
[1-31-07] Added punctuation here and there.

[2-11-07] Swapped dashes for ellipsis here and there [~anomalicious consult]
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:icontheroaringmouse:
TheRoaringMouse Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2007  Student Photographer
This is absolutely beautiful. Your descriptions bring everything clearly to mind. I especially love how you repeated does it snow? does it rain? It's so wonderful, it makes me want to visit Chicago soon. :+fav:
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:iconneohephaestus:
neoHephaestus Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2007  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so much. But you might want to wait until Spring. We just got our first blizzard of the season last night. :D
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:icontheroaringmouse:
TheRoaringMouse Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2007  Student Photographer
Ha! :D How much? We got four inches and a ton of ice down here. I heard it was in feet up north!
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:iconneohephaestus:
neoHephaestus Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2007  Hobbyist Writer
To the immediate south of the city I hear it was brutal. In the city limits, we got nearly two feet as far as I can tell. Its only the beginning. :D
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:iconanomalicious:
anomalicious Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2007
!!

Whoa. That took an amazing turn for the tender. I love this piece.

I love how there's a lot of action going on outside; the city stirring to life in the morning; but inside there's this contemplation. This is very well constructed, I think, and the use of repetition is perfect.

You use a lot of dashes in this poem; in the middle of the lines in the first, second and last stanza, may I suggest trying to use a triple space instead of the dash. It would create less visual division in your poem. To me, the amount of dashes seem too visually harsh for the tone of the piece. Of course, you could be doing something here that I'm overlooking.

You've really got the groggy rhythm of early-morning city life down. It's quite striking, and really well composed! :D
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:iconneohephaestus:
neoHephaestus Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2007  Hobbyist Writer
I think you're absolutely right. Lemme take a blow torch to these dashes ...
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:iconanomalicious:
anomalicious Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2007
You've reminded me of a poem I read somewhere:

Higgledy piggledy
Emily Dickenson
Like to use dashes
instead of full stops.

Nowadays faced with such
idiosyncracies
critics and editors
send for the cops.
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:iconneohephaestus:
neoHephaestus Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2007  Hobbyist Writer
In that case--I am innocent!

My use of dashes is in fact a direct influence of Dickenson. I adore her incredibly. She and Cummings fight readily in my bookcase for my affections.
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:iconanomalicious:
anomalicious Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2007
Time to get you some contemporary poetry!

Dickenson and Cummings are two of my favourites, as well. Just be careful with overuse of dashes - it really does damage their impact within a text if there are a lot of them, and they sometimes have a slashing effect that you don't intend.
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:iconjonzoiplu:
jonzoiplu Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2007
the word tremulous makes me shiver in delight.
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:iconneohephaestus:
neoHephaestus Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2007  Hobbyist Writer
Ha! Me too. It will be our secret. :shh:
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:iconlisolette-anwe:
Lisolette-Anwe Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2007   Writer
Well there isn't anything that I can say that hasn't already been said. Of course this is my being remiss from actually doing something I enjoy such as critiquing excellent work that I adore.

"a tremulous yawn to rouse her trees"

An excellent opening line. I like how this like personifies the city much like she is also waking up along with the citizens that dwell there.

"legions of Early Risers" really desensitizes the fact that these early risers are people. I think it captures part of the early morning rush that defines most large cities.

"does it snow? does it rain?" I like how you repeated this line. Both for the children and then for the person that this poem seems to revolve around. As if sleeping in late on day that everyone else would be working almost defines childhood in a sense.

I truly enjoyed each of the stanzas in this piece. Though, admittedly I'm a little disheartened that I've had nothing constructive to say.

Excellent work again Neo.
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:iconneohephaestus:
neoHephaestus Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2007  Hobbyist Writer
Alright--I'm a liar.

I told Aladdin-Sane that I had written this as an intension-free piece, and while that's mostly true, your review begins to erode that facade.

"As if sleeping in late on day that everyone else would be working almost defines childhood in a sense."

That is an astute observation and not surprising considering your penchant for thoughtful analysis. While my primary motivation here is to capture the disparate aspects of the city as it 'awakens', I also wanted to establish a kind of resistance to the 'daily grind'.

In the stanzas about the 'Early Risers' and 'sounds of progress' I am somewhat lamenting what I perceive as the resultant cost of living in a big city--there are always 'schedules keeping' (trains/meetings/flights) and concern about the 'weather predicting' during the morning commute. The 'Lark' is in fact a metaphor for the alarm clock as it comes to life with reports of the day's conditions. In the end, we have the speaker stepping back, refusing the bell, as it were. He (me) wants to exit the treadmill and enjoy the moment. So, yes--you are correct, his sleeping in is his own private protest, a return to childhood before life became programmed. You got it, miss.
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:iconlisolette-anwe:
Lisolette-Anwe Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2007   Writer
Neo, I have to say that you always make me feel more intelligent then I know that I am, haha.

Mh, I feel that the only reason I perceive your poetry perhaps as you write it, not how you may or may not play it off is because I suppose that are styles are similar in their own respects. That and perhaps we may occasionally think alike.

Lying, Dear Neo? Tsk, shame on you.
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:iconpoeta-violinista:
poeta-violinista Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2007  Hobbyist Writer
Wow. Very good view into life in the city. It flies so sweetly above the rooftops, stares ever so silently at each face. I loved it.
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:iconneohephaestus:
neoHephaestus Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2007  Hobbyist Writer
What a lovely sentiment ... I appreciate your kindness and your visit. :D
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:iconklit-shy:
kLiT-sHy Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2007
This is captivating. The lines are beautifully woven, the vivid images linger on my mind- still and strong. I personally love:

from the window
I consider your slumber—your bliss;
passing contented, the weightless moments
in this idle break of day
Reply
:iconneohephaestus:
neoHephaestus Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2007  Hobbyist Writer
Well, thank you, sHy. I had hoped to craft an entirely emotional piece that invited the reader into a soft nostalgia, and based on your comments, I think I've done that.

I appreciate your taking time out to comment.
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:iconklit-shy:
kLiT-sHy Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2007
DEFINITELY =)
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:iconaladdin-sane:
Aladdin-Sane Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2007
I'll get back to this when I have a little more time, but I'm certain already that I like it very much.
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:iconneohephaestus:
neoHephaestus Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2007  Hobbyist Writer
As always, I shall be most appreciative of any commentary and/or critiques you might wish to share.

When time permits. And thank you, kindly for the favorite.
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:iconaladdin-sane:
Aladdin-Sane Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2007
I've spent a day or two reading this poem, and have decided that its positive value derives purely from the quality of its individual phrasing. The overarching theme seems little more than an excuse for the descriptive exploration of each stanza, certainly until the penultimate one, and it works very well for that. I particularly like:

a tremulous yawn to rouse her trees

because of the sense of collective personality it cultivates of the city, and the way in which it creates a sense of panorama before moving onto individual details. I also like:

sober with dreams of sleep

because it articulates very nicely a very particular sensation, and it's like you've picked a certain moment of life and caught its essence. But what I think I like most about this poem is its unpretentiousness: it feels clean, pure, fresh, and I've no reason to doubt the idea that the narrator might sincerely ask the same question as the preceding schoolchildren. It's a nice character-forming touch, if nothing else.

Bits I'm unsure about:

my urban hamlet

is simply excessively twee for my taste, and I think is a little too obvious an oxymoron in a generally very genuine poem. Also in:

legions of Early Risers

I think the word 'legions' dehumanises the Early Risers too much; it'd not be too difficult to find an alternative that conveys an appropriate sense of their number while sounding more compassionate, I'm sure.

And that's it... like I said earlier, I like this very much indeed.
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:iconneohephaestus:
neoHephaestus Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2007  Hobbyist Writer
Once again, a marvelous commentary that returns to me far more than I have bestowed.

The piece is purposefully free of any ponderous sentiment beyond the fleeting clarity that the beginning of each day begins with. I find myself fascinated by the stillness of mornings in Chicago; a stark contrast to the living aspect of her waking hours. This was my attempt to capture it.

I understand your dissatisfaction with 'urban hamlet' and 'legions of Early Risers'. On the whole, I could find no other wording to encapsulate my intent in the least amount of words any syllables. Perhaps this is a shortcoming on behalf of my vocabulary. Though, here in Chicago, I believe wholly in the descriptions. Each neighborhood here is strikingly a little village, on a block-by-block measurement. This is of course a historic remnant left over by the decades of harsh racial division in the city, only just now fading ... slowly. The legion reference was meant to convey the forward march, in steady determination--especially when the weather is less than desirable; and that is more often than not.

I am always encouraged by thoughtful constructive criticism; many people prefer only pats on the head. You continue to provide me with honest insights. I will continue to consider the points you've raised.

Thank you, A-S.
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:iconmediatedballe:
mediatedballe Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2007
I actually think 'legions of Early Risers' works quite well here. I picture the morning rush as a wave of only half-sentient beings marching in line.

I think the poem could have used some more pauses here and there though. Now it seems the flow is a bit too loose; rein it in with some commas, maybe. (:

The line 'schedules keeping, (those poor souls)', seems a bit odd to me, as well.

Other than that, I enjoyed this poem a great deal. And it conveys a feeling we're all familiar with, I think. Kudos.
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:iconneohephaestus:
neoHephaestus Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2007  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you for sharing your insights, M.

I'm always looking to tinker with things well after the fact. Sometimes when you come back to something a week, a month, a year later--you see room for improvement. I'll take your suggestion about timing to heart.

I appreciate it!
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