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Eastward on the Acle straight
the sun is hardly rising yet the sky
aspires and finds a way to paint
so many clues that undertake
to hasten morning’s destined wake.

At Stracey Arms the windmill pumps
away the marsh’s life to make
good sod and in the turf the rushes thrive
but bitterns toll their own demise
inside their graves of reed and sedge
cold winds grind and scour the Norfolk sky
and dykes and drains are filled with blood.

Ice like brittle ploughshares scythe
the horse drawn knives are out today
and corn is cut to stubble to make hay.

Seagulls wheel above the plough
like scavenged scrawny rats and wait
descending row on row, and now
alight upon the ploughman’s bate
their greedy screeches harshly scrape
and clean the ploughman’s new made plate.

My Norfolk heart is here beneath
this lowering sky beneath the sod in
tangled roots my Norfolk heart beats
out the drum of joy and pain my heart
is here in Norfolk’s plain and I will
walk her hedge and copse when ashes
smoke in salty air and I come home again.

Review Request (Intensity): 
I want the raw truth, feel free to knock me on my back
Last few words: 
The road from Acle to Great Yarmouth in Norfolk (England) is straight for over 10 miles. The drive is due east into the rising sun. I used to drive it every weekday just before the sun was rising. Norfolk is famous for being flat with massive wide open skies so the ever changing palette of colours in the sky projected onto the ever changing cloud patterns is fascinating to watch and no amount of poetry can describe the beauty of the metamorphosis so I have not tried. But that drive is forever with me and Norfolk is where my heart is.
Editing stage: 
Content level: 
Not Explicit Content
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The below is a computer-generated response from Neo, Neopoet's computer artificial intelligence:

This poem effectively utilizes vivid imagery and a strong sense of place to convey the speaker's connection to Norfolk. The use of specific locations and details, such as "Stracey Arms" and "the Acle straight," ground the poem in a specific locale and give it a sense of authenticity.

The poem may benefit from a more consistent use of meter and rhyme. While some lines have a clear rhythmic structure and end rhyme, others do not, which can create a disjointed reading experience. For example, the line "and dykes and drains are filled with blood" has a strong rhythm and a clear end rhyme with the previous line, but the following line, "Ice like brittle ploughshares scythe," does not follow the same pattern.

Additionally, the poem's use of metaphor is sometimes unclear. For example, it's not immediately apparent what is meant by "the marsh’s life" in the line "At Stracey Arms the windmill pumps / away the marsh’s life to make / good sod." Is this referring to water, or to something else? Clarifying these metaphors could make the poem's meaning more accessible to readers.

Finally, the poem's narrative could be strengthened by a clearer through-line or progression. While the poem's individual stanzas are evocative, it's not always clear how they relate to each other or build on each other to create a larger narrative or thematic arc. Providing more connective tissue between stanzas could help to create a more cohesive and engaging narrative.

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This AI comment underlines the limitations of machine learning. A machine can put two and two together to make four although in this case it failed miserably as evidenced by the fact that it is demonstrably wrong when it says the line "and dykes and drains are filled with blood" has a strong rhythm and a clear end rhyme with the previous line" (when it does not) but it cannot put itself inside the mind of a human being. It has approached this poem only as a piece of written work when most poems benefit greatly from being spoken (and "acted" or interpreted by the speaker). For example it does not like the fact that "Ice like brittle ploughshares scythe" does not follow the same pattern as the previous line when this line is the first of a new stanza which suggests there is a reason for the break in pattern which the speaker would have noted and would have realised is the introduction to the next part of the poem.
It fails to recognise the internal rhythms and echoes that come to play when words are carefully selected to bring about harmony and dissonance. Often these internal dynamics and rhythms are only exposed when the poem is spoken rather than read. For example the word "yet" can be read as referring to the fact that "the sun is hardly rising YET" or the fact that the "sun is hardly rising - YET the sky aspires and finds a way to paint". It would be up to the speaker of the poem to interpret this whichever way they wish.
Why it thinks the use of metaphor is "sometimes unclear" is beyond me - it worries whether the line "the windmill pumps / away the marsh’s life" refers to "water, or something else" when it is patently obvious that it is referring to water and it fails completely to understand the "something else" which is a reference to life draining away (hence "dykes and drains are filled with blood") - see next paragraph.
Finally it misses the whole point of the poem which is about the writer's thoughts about his impending demise (hopefully not yet). The first stanza gives the CLUE "so many clues that UNDERTAKE to hasten morning's destined WAKE" . Clearly not only is the morning about to wake but a wake follows a funeral. The windmill is killing the marsh by pumping away its life blood. The bitterns toll their own demise. The scythe is cutting the corn THE GRIM REAPER IS AT WORK. The seagulls are VULTURES and the last stanza says it all "when ashes smoke in salty air and I come home again". All in all the above AI crit is a bloody disaster.

author comment

I love the Norfolk landscape and this encapsulates so much of that place: I could feel it, the cold, the smell of it: and surely that is what poetry is about? to hold us somewhere:

...'but bitterns toll their own demise
inside their graves of reed and sedge
cold winds grind and scour the Norfolk sky
and dykes and drains are filled with blood.'

I really, really like that: there is such music and depth in the way you have phrased those lines.
Also, for me, I had to work within this poem as a reader, which I also like, hearing the rhythm of your words. Sometimes NOT spelling out everything in a poem, leaving it up to our imaginations to feel the poem, well, it's just splendid.

Jenifer Jaspa James

I really appreciate your comments. I lived 13 of my happiest/unhappiest years in Norfolk (ex UEA) - took me all that time to get that accent!! It used to kungfooz me.
This still brings tears to my eyes (the singing postman)

author comment

I can tell this poem is very special. I looked up the local references, and they appear exactly how you have described them, plus your imagery and language add detail and how much they mean to you. You've incorporated the senses so well - I see and hear the seagulls "...harshly scrape and clean the ploughman's new made plate." There is an eerie sensation in the description of the windmills - a profound silence. I feel both the love and the heartache, the depth of the relationship you have with Norfolk. The last few lines hold a wonderful acceptance and peace. Thank you for sharing such a beloved poem.

My years in Norfolk were the happiest and saddest days of my life. It is a magical area of England from its geography to its history and its (strange) people. Thank you so much for your empathy.

On a lighter note - this YouTube video is amusing but also demonstrates the Norfolk accent which is quite unusual.

author comment

I noticed you referenced that in your preceding comment and I watched. Lovely accent!
Thank you!

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