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Never Goanna Dance

by desdillon 

Posted: 22 August 2014
Word Count: 108
Summary: another sonnet based on the fact that i've never danced with my wife and haven't danced since i stopped drinking 23 years ago Sean-nůs dance is an older style of traditional solo Irish dance. It is a casual dance form, as opposed to the more formal competition-oriented form, of Irish stepdance.


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Never Goanna Dance
You say I’ve never danced with you cos sober
feet ain’t got no rhythm.  But listen, you don’t
only dance with your feet on the dance floor.
I have been dancing sean-nos unnoticed
through sickness and health, heel and toe over
these few square feet of Scotland. Unseen,
I have stamped out reels and jigs, clicked
airs and laments over old friends gone,
 
shuffled through unbearable loss, spun
and tip tapped in the garden through swallows
and blackbirds, howling dogs in the flowers,
cats’ choirs in shivering cherry blossoms.
I have danced, darling. And  I’m never
goanna dance again, the way I’ve danced with you.






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Comments by other Members



Dave Morehouse at 15:42 on 22 August 2014  Report this post
Des - I love the sentiment in this poem on first read. I will try to get back with comments later in the week. Cheers, Dave.

Thomas Norman at 11:01 on 24 August 2014  Report this post
A very fine piece Des. Some really good lines especially..

and tip tapped in the garden through swallows
and blackbirds, howling dogs in the flowers,
cats’ choirs in shivering cherry blossoms.

Has your wife read this? Her reaction would be interesting!

Thomas

Kat49 at 22:28 on 24 August 2014  Report this post
Are there references to an old George Micheal number here, Des?

Lovely idea, and the way that you structure it to give your wife the affirmation in the final line is great; after the opening line explaining her take on why you've never danced with her, I had a horrible feeling that the solo dance was just that, solo, but you change all that.  I like the Sean-nos idea, although I wouldn't have known what it was without your note. (Well, I'd have had to Google it.) 

Like Thomas, I'd like to know your wife's reaction to this piece.

Thank you for reviewing my 'Night at the Circus' poem. I appreciated the comments that you made and your engagement with it. 

Kat49

nickb at 14:07 on 25 August 2014  Report this post
Hi Des,

I think this is a really interesting and moving poem.  The idea of life being a dance is set up neatly with
 

But listen, you don’t
only dance with your feet on the dance floor.

The fact that much of it is done "unnoticed" or "unseen" is really telling.  There is a real sense of loss and hard times past, but these are not overplayed.  Like Thomas I especially liked :
 

clicked
airs and laments over old friends gone,
 
shuffled through unbearable loss, spun
and tip tapped in the garden through swallows
and blackbirds, howling dogs in the flowers,
cats’ choirs in shivering cherry blossoms.

These are wonderful lines, so evocative.  The ending completely changes the tone of the poem to one of positiveness, hope, a coming home.

I was intrigued by the use of "goanna".  Is this a dialect thing or is it a word used between the two of you?

Nick



James Graham at 14:46 on 25 August 2014  Report this post
Sorry to be so slow to respond. I'll post a comment very soon.

James.

desdillon at 19:30 on 25 August 2014  Report this post
Hi Dave, Thomas and Kat and Nick. Thanks for your comments. All appreciated. So first off my wife read the poem gave me a hug and a kiss and said she loved it. Definitely the George Michael song I'm referring to although the feet were guilty and that song not sober. Nick...goanna is from the George Michael song...The Scottish word for that is goanny. Like goanny no do that. Feeling good.

desdillon at 19:41 on 25 August 2014  Report this post
Hi Dave, Thomas and Kat and Nick. Thanks for your comments. All appreciated. So first off my wife read the poem gave me a hug and a kiss and said she loved it. Definitely the George Michael song I'm referring to although the feet were guilty and that song not sober. Nick...goanna is from the George Michael song...The Scottish word for that is goanny. Like goanny no do that. Feeling good.

James Graham at 19:51 on 25 August 2014  Report this post
Just to be both flippant and pedantic at the same time, this Scottish reader saw 'goanna' and thought of an Australian lizard. Chambers Scots Dictionary gives 'gauna' or 'gaunna'. I'll comment more sensibly tomorrow.

James.

desdillon at 20:13 on 25 August 2014  Report this post
You're right as usual James. Just looked up George Michael lyrics and it's never gonna dance again.

James Graham at 20:16 on 26 August 2014  Report this post
Two things I especially like about this poem. First, the perfect congruity between beginning and ending: the turn from the literal ‘danced with you’ to ‘danced with you’ in its rich new sense, which includes an element of simple pleasure but also love and courage. Courage by Hemingway’s definition: ‘Grace under pressure’.
 
Second, the special quality of the sonnet ‘turn’. The sestet often brings a new development in the ‘argument’ of the poem, but yours brings us to a passage of much more visual/ aural writing. The birds, dogs and cats are very striking and come as a surprise. I find the howling dogs and caterwauling cats quite surreal. They might just be real in the sense that you’ve actually had howling dogs and cats’ choirs in your garden, or nearby. But the dogs especially come across more as the howling dogs of mental anguish. I don’t know if all readers would see them that way but it works for me. Powerful.
 
These lines aren’t seriously scary, though; somehow there’s a light touch too. It’s a blend of something quite dark along with humorous exaggeration. It’s very nuanced, the kind of exceptional passage in a poem that makes a few words seem to do more work than they’ve ever done before.
 
(The cats are a little less scary, but that’s very subjective: howling dogs make my blood run cold, whereas a cats’ chorus always strikes me as comical.)
 
Now, two critical points. I wonder about ‘clicked’. Not sure what you mean by ‘I have...clicked airs and laments’. In dancing terms, I imagine swaying slowly from side to side in time to a lament, rather than any kind of dance that involves clicking.
 
This other point is moot, but there’s a near-repetition of ideas in these lines:
 

airs and laments over old friends gone,
 
shuffled through unbearable loss

 
The first of these lines covers coming to terms with loss; perhaps the second could introduce something different, e.g. ‘shuffled through failure and lost hope’.
 
These are the only reservations I have – and one of them is a bit nit-picking. Another fine sonnet. As someone is supposed to have shouted after the premiere of Home’s Douglas, ‘Whaur’s yer Wullie Shakespeare noo?’
 
James

desdillon at 10:36 on 27 August 2014  Report this post
Thanks for your comments James - insightful as usual. Grace Under Pressure - I can relate to that in rock climbing mountain biking etc. - will start using it as a mantra. I'm a big fan of Hemingway and a but dismayed literary politics has pushed him out of fashion. 

The howling dogs image comes from anguish right enough. Our epileptic Lurcher, gone now, would howl in the throes of his grand mal fits and that was absolutely heartbreaking - the cats? Trying to get some gremlin like feeling into the poem there - surreal madness. I'm glad you feel a light touch to these lines too cos that's the Sean-nos dance style - very understated. Humorous exaggeration is the way of the Irish Diaspora - as I've said before - it's in me and so often comes out in the writing. That need to entertain the listener. Exceptional passage - that makes me happy and as we all have probably experienced - the words come together to mean much more than our intention. That's the amazing thing about poetry for me and what keeps me at it. 

Clicked  - Sean-nos is said to be the precursor to tap dancing in the States so the clicking is there because of that.(the metal tips of the  shoes)  But I take your point  - and I already have tip tapped in the poem -  so have moved shuffled to the airs and laments where it fits better.  And you're right about the redundancy of  - old friends gone and unbearable loss. So with a flash of inspiration I've changed Loss to Joy to create a broader sweep of emotions.

I have stamped out reels and jigs, shuffled
airs and laments over old friends gone,
 
floated through unbearable joy, spun
and tip tapped in the garden through swallows

Willie Shakespeare Ha ha - I've heard that one before. I'm on a mission writing these sonnets - but recently I've moved from 10 syllables and leaned towards five stressed beats per line. Not iambic pentameter - but just five actual big stresses - ignoring half stresses etc. They seem to read better like that. 

As usual James - thanks for your input cos i now have a better poem than the one I started off with.

Best wishes

Des

James Graham at 12:16 on 27 August 2014  Report this post
Hi Des - First reaction to these revised lines: Yes! On re-reading, still Yes. As well as getting rid of the slight incongruity of clicking to a slow air, and the near-repetiton of ideas, you've strengthened the sonnet 'turn'. Now the sestet begins with a 'change of key', joy instead of adversity, a new tone. As it was, this change didn't happen until the swallows and blackbirds came along.

The difference between the octave and sestet isn't as simple as bad experience/ good experience. There's a certain lightness in the octave, and a glimpse of dark-night-of-the-soul in the sestet. Even so, there's an unmistakable change.

I like your use of five stresses per line. Strict iambic pentameter seems too rigid nowadays, and would be too formal for this poem. With regular end-rhyme as well the poem would be in a strait-jacket!

James.

desdillon at 10:23 on 28 August 2014  Report this post
Thanks James - appreciated as usual.

V`yonne at 17:18 on 07 September 2014  Report this post
I've come very late to this but I love it. I love the dance that has gone on in sickness and in health on that wee bit of earth and for all the years and that affirmation that

I’m never

goanna dance again, the way I’ve danced with you.

It's a life long love sonnet of a very special kind. We do that. We take the love of the other for granted and say that they didn't this or that... We miss the obvious in everyday life.

So well put!

desdillon at 14:24 on 09 September 2014  Report this post
Thanks Oonah


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