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Author Topic: Poems in English  (Read 847 times) Average Rating: 0
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Gentleman
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« on: March 22, 2011, 05:23:40 AM »

Hello everybody,
I’m not a native speaker, I have even never been to England or other English-speaking country; but how paradoxical it may be I like to use this world language. I find it even easier to write ‘poems’ in English than in Russian, my native language. Here is my firs ‘poem’ dedicated to the memory of our venerable father in Christ St. Willibrord (http://www.orthodoxengland.org.uk/pdf/st_willibrord.pdf ). I would like to know how does it sound to the native speakers. I will be thankful for your feedbacks.

Saint Willibrord had a great desire
To turn the heathens from darkness unto Light
Christ’s faithful servant, Willibrord had travelled
From native England to the Frisian lands

From early childhood he desired
To know nothing than Christ alone
Being pious son of pious parents
He chose the narrow path of Christ

On Irish soil he labored like a great ascetic
Acquiring patience, love, humility
But lamp cannot remain under a bushel
And Willibrord was made a priest

Like another Paul being sent to other nations
He travelled far for the sake of Truth by him so loved
Like the Apostles, all of them were twelve
And they departed for a missionary work

Their labor was by God rewarded   
And many Frisians, Danes and other Germans were converted
And Willibrord was consecrated as a bishop
His name being changed to Clement by the Pope
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I pray Thee, O Merciful Lord, for all the peoples of the earth, that they may come to know Thee by Thy Holy Spirit.

www.journeytoorthodoxy.com/
Iconodule
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« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2011, 09:37:59 AM »

Gentleman-  Welcome to the forum!

I am very impressed by your grasp of English, not only of grammar and vocabulary but rhythm- which many native English-speaking "poets" today don't understand. While this isn't a strictly metered poem, I noticed that it is written in mostly iambs/ trochees and flows nicely. There are many bad translations of akathists and other hymns in English- not because they're inaccurate (I wouldn't know) but because the translators have no sense of prosody. Have  you read many English poets? Which ones do you enjoy the most?  

One thing your poem needs is more punctuation to separate sentences and ideas- commas, periods, semicolons. For instance, the first stanza is one sentence and should end with a period. Your second stanza could read like this:

"From early childhood he desired
To know nothing than Christ alone;
Being pious son of pious parents,
He chose the narrow path of Christ."

But this of course is a mainly cosmetic problem and even native Anglophones can have trouble here.

One small grammatical problem: "But lamp cannot remain under a bushel" should either read "But lamps..." or "But a lamp..."

The other possible grammatical issue I could see in your poem is your use of "than" in "To know nothing than Christ alone." I am not sure if "than" can stand alone like this, without it being "other than"- maybe my fellow Anglophones can comment. You could use the word "but" instead and have the same meaning.  

My only other real concern is the lack of trope in much of the poem- much of it is very much a straight telling of events. The few metaphors I see are very familiar ones- darkness into light, light under a bushel, etc.  In prose we have more freedom to be sparse with our ornamentation and thick with bare narrative, but to justify setting our words to verse, we must be simultaneously more concise and more adorned than in prose, in my opinion. Perhaps you can find some vivid images from St. Willibrord's life or from the lands he evangelized, which can help illustrate something about the saint himself.

But I can see that you are already practically fluent as an English writer. English Orthodoxy needs more poets, no matter whence they come!  I am actually slowly working on a narrative poem of my own, a "mini-epic" about St. Eustathios the Great Martyr. Maybe when (God willing) I have finished you can look over it and give me some suggestions.  Smiley
« Last Edit: March 22, 2011, 09:39:37 AM by Iconodule » Logged

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Gentleman
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« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2011, 03:39:50 AM »

Have  you read many English poets? Which ones do you enjoy the most?
My most beloved poems are from Orthodox writers. Especially I would like to say that I’ve read a book with poems dedicated to the memory of Celtic saints, by a certain bishop Paul of Thrace (if I remember it well). I had a fortune to meet him this year in France. His poems are rich in context and rhythm and are pretty long, that’s what impressed me mostly. I hope to get more of his books with poems later.
The other possible grammatical issue I could see in your poem is your use of "than" in "To know nothing than Christ alone." I am not sure if "than" can stand alone like this, without it being "other than"- maybe my fellow Anglophones can comment. You could use the word "but" instead and have the same meaning.
Yes, thank you for this correction. Actually I live in the Netherlands and as far as I am familiar with Dutch language, it wouldn’t be that incorrect to use ‘than’(‘dan’ in Dutch) in this case. So I see that I need to be more attentive so as not to make any confusion in this small things.
My only other real concern is the lack of trope in much of the poem- much of it is very much a straight telling of events. The few metaphors I see are very familiar ones- darkness into light, light under a bushel, etc.  In prose we have more freedom to be sparse with our ornamentation and thick with bare narrative, but to justify setting our words to verse, we must be simultaneously more concise and more adorned than in prose, in my opinion. Perhaps you can find some vivid images from St. Willibrord's life or from the lands he evangelized, which can help illustrate something about the saint himself.
Yes. Actually I had a feeling that there was a lack of something when I  compared contemplatively my ‘poem’ with those of bishop Paul.

May God bless you, brother.  angel
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I pray Thee, O Merciful Lord, for all the peoples of the earth, that they may come to know Thee by Thy Holy Spirit.

www.journeytoorthodoxy.com/
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