Robert Saxton, Poetry Website

New Book: Six-way Mirror

Revisions and reflections

Sunday, 10 Apr 2016

On this page Ill compile a list of corrections to Six-Way Mirror as they occur to me, with comments on my reasons for every change. Ill also include some of the reservations that occur to me about specific passages or phrases, as well as responses to comments on specific passages or phrases made by readers. Since this book is produced by print-and-demand technology, it should be possible for me to put in hand a revised edition in due course.

Back cover: It should be ‘among other things’, not ‘among things. I had the cover redone to make another correction but missed this one. Doh!

3 The Moth: preamble – Less space after breva

4 The Princess: rubric – I considered inserting a new three-word clause: ‘...ketchup. The headscarf worked: a tiara would have been the height of vulgarity.’ I felt that the tiara might be read a bit of a non sequitur without this context. However, I’ve changed my mind: I think the headscarf would be hammering home the point too much.

5 The Teapot: preamble – I'm not happy about ‘releases the flavour of addiction’: it isn’t actually saying anything much. Ill probably change to: ‘is the brazen self-reliance of addiction’, which is more thought-provoking, as well as more meaningful.

8 The Priest: 4th – I think that in the phrase ‘which only seems to strengthen the defences’ the ‘the’ is rather inert. I don’t agree with using adjectives unnecessarily, but ‘which only seems to strengthen strong defences’ works better for me. It has an extra level of ideation.

9 The Market: 3rd – This is a reservation rather than a correction. I wonder about ‘The ocean-going rig tacks across the square’. Should it be rigs, plural? The conceit is that a market in a town square is like a great galleon, with lots of sails. Would it be clearer if each stall were a rig, the whole making a fleet? I worry that readers won’t get this stanza, actually, as ‘square’ is the main clue to the meaning and it could easily be missed ... except, of course, that the stanza is called ‘The Rain Market’, which gives another big clue. I’ll leave it.

10 The Ghost: 1st – The connection between ‘Relax your mindful attention’ and the following sentence isn’t clear enough. I think the last sentence, in any case, is confusing, as ‘to search for a clean slatewould be more idiomatic than ‘searching for a clean slate’. At the moment the sentence doesnt know whether it’s an exhortation or a description. I'm inclined to revise to ‘Start by relaxing your mindful attention. Turn the attic upside down. Search for a clean slate.’

10 The Ghost: 6th – Ought to be ‘there’s no loss of energy’, not ‘there is no loss of energy’. Usually I elide.

11 The Honey Bee: All six ‘The cup may be full but never overflowing. A spill is the devil’s mischief.Actually the opposite is a better rule to live by, surely. You have to keep giving endlessly. So I think I’ll change to something like: ‘The cup is full to overflowing. A still precision is the devil’s mischief.’ Or something similar – needs thought.

16 The Horse: preamble – This is a similar issue. Here's the food pass’ would be more consistent with the style elsewhere than ‘Here is the food pass.’ Somehow, however, it doesn’t flow well. I’ll think further about this. Maybe ‘Here is’ is semantically weak. There’s another problem, which is that in 4th I have ‘And here’s the palomino...’, where the same phrase sounds fine. But the echo is awkward. Perhaps something like ‘Watch for the food pass’, would be slightly better, but I don’t want it to be quite so active: all I want to do is draw attention to the food pass, not pull the reader off course by giving him/her a command. Maybe ‘Witness the food pass,...’ I need to come back to this.

20 The Bridge: 1st – ‘“Isn’t it just the river flowing by?feels a bit dead I often have this feeling about the word ‘it’. Better as ‘“Isn’t that just the river flowing by?, which does a better job of catching speech on the wing.

21 The Hermit: rubric – Not at all sure about this hermit in his busker’s cap. I suppose I imagined that he might do a bit of busking to keep the wolf from the door. But if he's in a grotto, he’s an ornamental hermit. I suspect I’ve made the picture too complicated.

23 The Journey: 5th – I think it should be ‘ our cramped capsules’, plural. Then it becomes a generalization about people (‘we’) in their cars. Then I think the last sentence should be ‘You’, not ‘We’, as it’s a change from the general to the specific (the reader).

36 The Refuge: 3rd – Title should be not The Refugee Abroad but The Refuge Abroad: it’s still obvious then that the subject is a refugee.

39 The Sky: 2nd – potential’ is a mistake, because we had it in the previous stanza. I’ll change it to ‘prospects’.

41 The Tower: 5th – ‘There’s no’, not ‘There is no’.

42 The Maze: 3rd – I think there’s a problem with ‘Somewhere brutish nostrils are twitching’. It's too cheap, too shallow. This Minotaur reference spoils the stanza. ‘A fatal fog confuses every turn.’ would work better as the last sentence, as it’s unconnected with the problems of reading the plan. I need to work on this.

45 The River: 2nd – I find, on reflection, ‘arbours, mazes and alleys’ a bit weak. It’s hard to picture these things on a frozen river. I wonder if this is verbatim from Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, which was the inspiration for this vignette of the frozen Thames. ‘Raise high’ doesn’t work either. I think I’ll change to: ‘Drinking booths, pie stalls, fortune tents raise a carnival...’ In lists like this I like to be very specific.

57 The Teacher: preamble – I’ve tried in this book to have an even-handed distribution of genders but in The Teacher I’ve got it wrong: the canto is too masculine. I’ll make the teacher in the preamble ‘she’, and maybe in 5th as well.

57 The Teacher: 4th – The generalised butterflies and dragonflies bother me, especially in a stanza about nature study. Maybe it will become: ‘Gatekeeper flitting, four-spot chaser hovering...’ It shouldn’t be plural any more, as you wouldn’t see either species as a group. If you were recognizing the individual species you’d be focusing on just one butterfly, just one dragonfly.

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