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Now I am toiling in a sea of ruin
against the rush of waves, and tearing grasp
of algae underneath the clouding froth
and battered up against the cracking rocks
I reach and find my finger-tips are torn

and every bulwark that I build is lost
in shattered spars, and iron nails all scraped
on beaten stone, and splintered wood. They fall
to rust amongst a sand of crumpled shells.

I build and build and all is swept away
into the raging sea; into the fray
of shipwreck sores on putrefying reefs
where long-lipped fishes float, and spotted tails
of swaying eels decay. An octopus

crawls deeper in the darkness of his cave.
I try to swim; the salt keeps me afloat
but every breath is burning from the spray.

When wailing waves recede, and drenching hail
melts back into the surf, I will reclaim
the rough and ragged grip of weathered shore
beneath my slippered feet, and I will find
some warmth beneath my worsted-wool dyed cap
and I will swim until the fish remind
me of myself, and me of them. Their scales

will flash the rising sun in every shock
of sudden leap. When desperate storms disperse
I will dive down to scrape a shard of shell
into an eating-knife, and I will trail
the birds back to their rainstorm drinking-wells.

And when the night disturbs the rush of day
I will begin to build, and this time hope
that every arch of spar will somehow stay.
The heart of a steamboat
I finally finished Toilers of the Sea! Hugo is a big fav, so I'm glad I'm making progress through his works. Next up is Notre Dame.

Anyway, this poem is obviously inspired by the sea as Hugo describes it. I went for blank verse, and I hope you enjoy! Comments/critiques are always appreciated. :)
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38 deviations
His uncle stepped away, and slowly sighed
“Gawain,” he said, “I don’t know what to say—
You tell me that you wish that you had died,

That fear of death has led you to betray
Your honor and the oaths you once had sworn—“
He paused, and looked down where his nephew stayed

Head bent over his hands—a ring adorned
In gold, and cut with Orkney’s royal seal
Lay there before him, sunlit-streaked and warm

Upon the wooden table. Arthur kneeled
Beside his silent nephew, took the ring
And said, “Gawain, you tell me that you feel

As if you failed yourself, and me, your king
But that cannot be true, for you are here
Alive. You said you told me everything:

The reason for your quest—how you so feared
My death, that you would rather die instead
And yet, as with each day your death drew near,

You shied away from such an end. You said
You walked through empty woods, and forded streams,
And wandered on long, lonely paths that led

Beyond our earthly world, to stranger dreams.
Then you came back—with such apologies!
My nephew, I must say this failure seems

To me, less failure than a victory
For see, you are alive—you have returned
How can this be defeat? It cannot be.”

But Gawain shook his head, and sharply turned
Away from where his uncle’s gentle eyes
Beseeched him take forgiveness back, un-earned.

So Arthur stood. He said, “My nephew, rise:
I tell you that your honor is not less
Perhaps not more; but then, your honor lies

So far beyond the ken of all the rest—
Indeed, you took a task that none else dared
Although it seemed a doomed and feckless quest.

You proved that, at the last, you truly cared
For life more than for honor formed from games;
Myself, I am just glad that you were spared

And do not know who could, faced with the same,
Choose otherwise. Gawain, you must believe
In this there is no censure, nor no blame.

But still Gawain was silent—and Arthur grieved.
Defense of Gawain (IV. The King)
So we're skipping a section of my long poem, the Defense of Gawain. I may cut it permanently, or I may just need to edit it a bit more. But I thought I might as well post section IV while I do so!

Let me know how you like it, especially if you've read the other two parts. I'm especially interested in any thoughts on how Arthur comes across, especially in contrast to Gareth (our speaker of the first part) or the court (our speaker of the second). The last section, of course, will be titled "The Queen."

The other parts are: I. Gareth and II. Camelot.

Thanks again!
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The world is beyond my description
no power can take from its grasp
the flood of a sliver of sunlight
between the tall trees, or the rasp
of foam on the sand covered lakeshore
caught up in its battering spray
no, nothing is deep as the darkness
nor kind as the day.

And soon in the riotous springtime
when hawthorn shall flower, and blooms
alight every branch, and the lilies
grow dappled within gentle gloom;
when night shall be filled with the bruising
of dew on the grass, and the trees
then I shall imagine the glories
you must once have seen.

The world moves beyond all enduring
you left, as the stars when the sun
first rose overhead and the dawning
of all that we know was begun.
You left, as the spring turns to summer
the hawthorn to green, and the stars
are shifting the hearts of their patterns
we traced from afar.

Now all that is left is the longing
and words that can never express
the depths of your world, nor its beauty
nor even its torturous deaths.
The songs of the fountains, the stories
carved out on the shores from the waves
they do not remember the dying
or passing of days.

They will not remember the lifetime
you spent on this wondrous earth;
not all your swift days, nor the moment,
the first that you had, of your birth.
For even the trees are forgetful
of all not inscribed in their rings
and you were not droughts, nor a rainstorm
nor even a spring.

The world does not share in my yearning
for souls that are gone to the dark
of fathomless depths beyond number
that take those we've known far apart.
But I still enjoy every season
and sing to the birds overhead;
the world may not stop, nor my longing
for those who are dead

and though in this world there is nothing
to say, that can fully express
the depths of the grief that encumbers
the pace of my struggling breaths
then still, I shall look, write, and wonder
at all of the world you once knew
and though all the words I write falter
at least they are true.
The world forgets
I have broken the sonnet trend with a marginally longer poem, and one not in iambic pentameter. Let me know what you think!
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We saw a crane. Its dipping beak broke through
the brush of cattail stalks, and bent the slip
of waves on weeds; of waves on sprawling blooms
that rose against the swell, then fell. The limp

of fungus-dusted foam flowed after it.
We saw the arching flash of murdered fish
its sun-caught scales a pierce of flame new-lit
with all of beauty we could ever wish.

You waded in the algae-green that grew
on every scrap of shore. You sloughed thick mud
beneath your feet, and let frayed roots crawl through
each step—and you kept moving towards the blood.

I know we are not water-birds, but I
seeing you striving there, dreamed you could fly.
Sonnet XLVI: Wetland
And another sonnet. I will write other poems someday, but I'm in rather a sonnet mood. This one is a bit vaguer, perhaps, than some I typically write, so I'd especially appreciate critiques on it--even just what your impressions are, or what you take from it.
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williamszm
M. W.
Artist | Student | Literature
United States
I'm a university student studying music.
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xXI-Feel-InfiniteXx Featured By Owner May 4, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
thanks for the fave :heart:
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Welcome to CRLiterature!

 

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jade-pandora Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2015
Thank-you by KmyGraphic
For adding me to your devWatch! :heart:
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LadyofGaerdon Featured By Owner May 26, 2014  Professional Writer
You've been featured on my blog:la: Come check it out if you'd like. :heart:
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