OrnithologyI sometimes imagine us,
I'll start by saying I feel almost out-of-place critiquing your poem because our styles are so wildly different. That being said, yours is a style I admire and hope to emulate some day.
The sense of nostalgia you were looking to convey shines through masterfully. In fact, the only thing that could possible conflict with the reader's imagined nostalgia is the line "Much more sophisticated than we are." It may be that I simply read it wrong, but the line has a certain vagueness to it that I'm not entirely sure was intentional. Are these two sitting on the patio of a London bistro, pretending to be more sophisticated than they really are? Or are they sitting there, more sophisticated than they are at the time of reading? I'm hesitant to suggest it--I like the flow as it stands--but if it's the latter, perhaps just adding "now" on the end for clarification might make things easier for the reader.
As for the title, I truly hate to say that it may be too obscure because I understood it and loved it. I don't feel that it being obscure is necessarily a problem, though. It's an intelligent pun; if someone skims over it without noticing, you're no more at fault than if you'd told a Knock-Knock joke to someone from Mars. (*Why you'd bother, I'll never know, but that's a question for another time.)
In stanza four, it's perfect. There's really not much else to say about stanza four. The reasoning behind it comes across immediately and, honestly, I laughed as I read it.
In stanza three, though, I feel the reasoning for it may be a little more esoteric. When I read Anne Boleyn (knowing this poem was centered around a pun), I immediately thought I had stumbled into another punchline, so to speak.
Youthful conquests, like Cleopatra might,
Or Anne Boleyn...
Meaning the two of them are losing their heads over youthful conquest? If that wasn't the intended purpose, I apologize. It's still beautifully written, and while not as powerful as the enjambment in stanza four, it still adds something to the piece.
Overall, there's very little to criticize here. The work--in very few words--was amazing. Though you made no mention of it, I could almost feel the London drizzle and smell the scent of cigar smoke and hops wafting in from the pub. Bravo. You've inspired me to create a similar piece, and for that I thank you sincerely.
Thank you, thank you!
I'm really glad someone got the joke. Like I said, I've been trying to wheedle it into a poem for years, and I was really worried it was going to fall flat on its face.
I was trying to say that the bistro was more sophisticated than they were (and hence the "drinking tea impolitely" bit), but there might be a better way to enjamb those lines.
In the third stanza, the "conquests...Cleopatra...Anne Boleyn" was meant to drop a couple hints (their effectiveness left up to debate):
(a) the "conquests" were as romantic in nature as they were sexual (setting up for the last stanza, "this want for a wife,");
(b) the "conquests" were ultimately regrettable; and
(c) it might be a couple of ladies sitting at this table, rather than a couple of gentlemen (neither true nor untrue; it's for the reader to decide, but I wanted the option to be there).
Finally: I think you rated the poem a little higher than I think it deserved, but I'm really glad you enjoyed it, and I very much appreciate the time you took to write this critique.
P.S. Just because Martians don't knock, doesn't mean they don't have doors; and most of them are culturally savvy enough to get the reference, anyway (except for that South Crater crowd, they're a bunch of hillbillies).
You're very welcome, though in all honesty, it was my pleasure to read your work.
Ah, that makes a bit more sense. I misread that entirely, and for that I apologize. Rereading it now, it makes perfect sense. Tired eyes make poor decisions, it would seem.
I had the feeling that (C) was evident, but that may just be my interpretation. (B) came across quite plainly as well. (A) didn't even factor into the equation for me, but that's probably because I focus more on the tragedy than the love associated with both Cleopatra and Anne Boleyn.
As for my rating, fair enough. I generally critique a little more leniently than most. I've just never been a fan of the "You used 'that' instead of 'which'--3 stars, and I award you no points" style of critiquing. If I critique another one of your works, I'll be sure not to go easy on you.
(I feel that Martians who really empathize with other species and who want to give the right impression always knock, as a point of principle. Sadly, their portal-related senses of humor leave much to be desired.)