Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poll: Offsetting Verses in "On Wings of Hope"

Two people pointed out that the narrator shift in "On Wings of Hope" is not clear enough. One suggested offsetting alternate verses. On the other hoof, there is already a visual distinction in the pattern of line lengths; the manta lines are long-short-long-short while the cockroach lines are short-long-short-long. Any change needs to accommodate that, and not make the poem illegible. Below is a version of the poem with the manta verses left-justified and the cockroach verses indented. What do you think? If this version doesn't work, other options include using italics, a different typeface, or a different color to distinguish the verses belonging to each narrator.

EDIT 1/12/09: Everyone pretty much agrees that the offset version is legible, and distinguishes the two narrators better. This is now the official version of the poem; I'll go back and add a note to the original, but leave that up so people can see the evolution process.

On Wings of Hope


As a young Singer, I saw
my world broken
like driftwood battered
by waves.

          As a young Sailor, I saw
          my crewmates destroyed by demons
          from the deep.
          Only I survived, clinging to wreckage.

I became a Trader, exchanging
the tunes
that are our tools: songs to build,
songs to shape.

          I became a Captain, leading
          fierce forays against the demons, but
          they cursed me, for I began
          to see their black-winged shapes as beautiful.

How could I help but wonder if
the landlings
had trade and Traders too?
What then?

          How could I help but wonder if
          the demons had their own navies, and if
          their Sailors, like myself,
          sometimes lay awake wishing for peace?

When the storm came, I saw
the deathshadow
spill itself into the water, its landlings
sinking fast.

          When the storm came, I saw
          the demon flying beneath us through dark water,
          but it was the waves, not the demon,
          that overturned our boat.

The water surged around me
as I dove,
catching one on my back. I could save
only one.

          The water surged around me
          as I drowned, and then something hit me
          hard in the belly, bearing me
          up through the rushing waves into the air.

As fast as I could go toward the shore,
I went,
hoping it would be enough for the landling
to reach safety.

          As fast as I could go toward the shore,
          I flailed my way through the waves, struggled up
          the rain-wrecked beach, battered
          but not beaten. Still breathing. Because of a demon.

When the weather cleared,
I watched him,
unable to leave or look away.
How strange.

          When the weather cleared,
          I watched her, like a dark kite in the water,
          graceful as a cloud.
          I wondered why she had saved me.

On his shrimpy body, he wore things –
small things
and long thin things attached like remoras.
What for?

          On her shadowy body, she had
          markings of lighter and darker gray, and under
          her wings she was pale as smoke.
          She carried no tools, but then, how could she?

I sang to him, though I am a Trader,
and Song
no longer my business. Can even a landling
hear truth?

          I sang to her, though I am a Captain,
          and had no business consorting with the enemy.
          Her songs were sweet and weird.
          Can even a demon understand the beauty of music?

I do not care what my people say:
for my part,
I will not fight the landlings any longer.
They are people.

          I do not care what my people say:
          these are not demons, but strange people of the sea.
          I will not fight them any longer.
          And I will find out why they think they must fight us.


Poll #1329422 Revising "On Wings of Hope"
This poll is closed.

Which is more legible?

The original left-justified version.
0(0.0%)
The new version with offset verses.
11(61.1%)
Both are about the same.
7(38.9%)

Which version distinguishes the two narrators better?

The original left-justified version.
0(0.0%)
The new version with offset verses.
18(100.0%)
Both are about the same.
0(0.0%)

Which version do you prefer?

The original left-justified version.
0(0.0%)
The new version with offset verses.
17(94.4%)
Both are good.
1(5.6%)
Neither is good; try something else.
0(0.0%)
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, discussion, editing, fishbowl, poem, poetry, poll, science fiction, writing
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