Monday, June 23, 2008

Revision for Read Write Poem

“Unkindness may do much; and his unkindness may defeat my life, but never taint my love.”

This is a quote from Othello. It was an assignment my 10th grade kids had to do: take a quote from act 4 of the play and write a poem about their own lives using it.
It all boils down to kindness
Because “unkindness may do much”

As I walk into the house
After school, I see a few
Pots and pans sitting on the
Stove waiting to be put in their
Proper storage place, and I
Know my husband has emptied
The dishwasher for me.

The act of kindness, incomplete
Though it is, warms me
And I appreciate him.
It all boils down to kindness
Because “unkindness may do much”

And I think of how much he has changed.
Years ago those dishes would never
Have been taken care of until I got
Around to it.

And it killed me, this lack of consideration
I thought that “his unkindness may defeat
my life”
But I didn’t let it.
Instead I suggested by example
And I never gave up on the
Inate goodness I knew was
Lurking in his big heart.

I never let his unkindness
“taint my love”

And now I marvel at the precise
Way he piled those homeless
Pots and pans, imagining his
Hands arranging them according
To size: carefully, kindly.

And here's my revisioning of it. I knew I wanted to get the quotes out because they tell instead of show. I hated that "suggesting by example" line. Yuck! So, that definitely had to go.

As I walk into the house
after school, I see a few
pots and pans sitting on the stove
waiting to be put away
and I know my husband
has emptied
the dishwasher for me.

This act of kindness,
is sweeter than
his favorite
chocolate cake
with boiled frosting
I think I’ll bake
for him.

Years ago those dishes
would never
have been taken care of
until I got around
to it.

But now I marvel
at the precise way
he piled those homeless
pots and pans,
imagining his hands
putting the smaller pots
into place
inside the larger frying pans,
fingers slipping around
their smooth sides.

10 comments:

Nathan said...

Nice revision. It really has more room for the reader, more observation more space for the reader's imagination and thought.

Carole said...

I like this very much. less is always more when it comes to poetry. Loved the tone which is carried through in your revision.

Jo said...

I also really like the revision, Linda, your voice is always so clear, this is a great moment captured.

Lirone said...

Nice work....

I have come to the conclusion that coming back to revise a poem is particularly important for poems that are in some way based on a prompt. That way you get the full force of the initial inspiration, but then can reshape the poem into something entirely your own.

Your comment about showing and telling is spot on.

mariacristina said...

Beautiful! This is a fine poem, so clear, vivid, and true. The image of him stacking the pots and pans is really sweet, and the narrator in turn gives it back to him. A lovely lesson in showing. Plus, you've inspired me to go back to more of my poems and revise!

sister AE said...

I just love the revision. It carries less baggage with it and the sentiment is clear and simple. Well done!

Jennifer said...

The small change of not capitalizing each line made a big difference for me, allowing the poem to flow more. I love the new last lines "fingers slipping around their smooth sides" but I miss the "carefully, kindly" of the first draft. And I agree with Nathan, the revision invites the reader in more than the first draft.

Rob Kistner said...

Linda -

I actually enjoyed both for different reasons obviously. I was engaged by the endeavor of the first piece to animate the Shakespearian quote. I found it well focused and effective.

I was drawn into the more intimate, personal nature of the second. Being a husband, I felt a more pointed sense of familiarity with the writing -- perhaps best interpreted as guilt. ;)

Thank you for sharing your original and your revision. You no have two fine works.

...rob

paisley said...

i think the revision suggests the maturation of the relationship,, as does the ability you both have to grow... be that thru word,, or example.......

Crafty Green Poet said...

I enjoyed reading the original but the revision is a much tighter, much more rewarding poem. Not just because you've got rid of the 'telling'

Sorry for being so late getting round to reading everyone's poems this week...

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