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Firey giants inhaled salty air
Around the wharves and docks,
Then raged towards Pioneer Square,
Circling several city blocks.
They ate buildings in a single gulp:
The Commercial Mill, its pulp,
Two Saloons, and the Opera house.
Operating hoses, mortals douse
Buildings now, hoping the giant
Fires themselves will die later,
Sparks not growing any greater,
No longer defied, or defiant.
Then a hot wind rose. Water slowed.
Once again, flames explode.


  1. Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says:

    Regarding content: The imagery, and personification of ‘the giant/ Fires’ as ‘Fiery giants’, is epic!

    Regarding form: I like the way a lot of your consonants and vowels play together (e.g., ‘Opera house/ Operating hoses’ — an especially clever contrast, there, of two very different kinds of ‘work’).

    My taste is for a more regular meter, though — for enough iambs that the brain recognizes the overall stanza as ‘iambic’. Pattern has its own simple charm. But it also gives the artist the power to deviate judiciously from time to time — the power of elegant or meaningful variation. And if a poet is going to work in a form as artificial and rule-bound as the Pushkin sonnet, I like to see how he avails himself of that power. But he can’t break from a pattern he hasn’t yet established.

    I still enjoy the stanza, Mr Finnegan. And it works. And I haven’t read it in the context of other stanzas; it may, taken as a stanza among stanzas, count as an elegant variation itself. There may not be enough iambs for me, but all the ingredients are good.

    • lickona says:

      I think we should just run Angelico’s comments as footnotes in the book.

      • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says:

        Writing the footnotes!

        Nice one, Tom Sawyer. Got any other fences I can paint?

    • Quin Finnegan says:

      A lot more words, a few more iambs, but nary a tetrameter. Still …

      Firey giants inhaled all the salty air
      near the wharves and steaming docks,
      Then raged on towards Pioneer Square,
      Circling around several city blocks.
      Devouring buildings in a single gulp,
      They ate the Commercial Mill, its pulp,
      Two saloons, and the Opera house.
      Operating hoses, frantic mortals douse
      Buildings instead, hoping the giant
      Fires will burn out themselves later,
      dieing to sparks and nothing greater—
      Neither defied by men, nor defiant.
      Then nozzles sputtered. Water slowed.
      A hot wind stirs, and flames explode.

      • Angelico Nguyen, Esq., OP says:

        I like this version better than the previous one, Mr Finnegan. And it doesn’t look like you had to sacrifice the meaning of any line! I just hope your Muse wasn’t too bent out of shape about being second-guessed.


  2. That poem frightens small children.

    Good work.

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