I continue my work on the “Autumn” poem, extracting from its many stanza variations those that best express the theme.
The composition consists of eight couplets. Presently, I have whittled the variations for each down to two for the first couplet, one for the second, third and fourth couplets, two for the fifth couplet, one for the sixth couplet, and five for the seventh and eighth couplets—most of these have internal refinements yet to be made.
Now and then, a new idea for a variation interrupts me, but it is a welcome delay. I hope to have a final draft in January.
“Cranes and Sheep” is complete! After many drafts, it is everything I hoped it would be. Above is the entirety of its evolution, from the initial sketch to the finished poem.
I now move on to “Autumn”, composed in 2012, the oldest poem in the collection (indeed, it was my first lyric poem proper1—how apt that Nature should be its theme).
At the time, there was no Forgotten Fields; I had no plans to produce an anthology of poems. “Autumn” was merely my heartfelt response to the loveliness of the season.
It exists as a highly finished draft given that I considered it a completed work, back then; but, as I noted some time ago, I believe I can improve upon it, seven years later.
In the current “Cranes and Sheep” draft, the first three stanzas are all but complete. There is here and there a word or line I am yet to decide upon, but having gone through numerous variations of each of the three, they seem to me the most evocative expressions of the theme.
As is often the case, the last stanza (here the fourth) proves the most challenging. I am left with seventeen variations after the last edit. These are the possible versions I am testing for the conclusion of the poem (the while my recent compositional dilemma remains unresolved).
They all describe the same subject—a lamb afrolic—but the exact lines with which to convey it is the great question that diligence (and a poet’s inclination) must answer. This then is my work in the days to come. It always seems an impossible task, but I find the right verse in the end!