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Clarence Thompson

The Sieve

(Romans 2:16)

The stream strikes the sieve and divides
into precious ore, kept, while the residue
washes away. And its banks bring forth stones
swept relentlessly on toward the sieve.

My will, like a sieve, sifts time into choices
washed past like stones in a stream.
Lord, forgive grit I've kept
while the gold washed away, flowing on
past the sieve.

Not very long till a sieve lifts our souls
from the storm-choked stream's washing
to be weighed on the scales.
And each soul is a stone swept relentlessly on
toward the sieve.

August, 2000

Clarence Thompson's Questions:

1. Does the metaphor work?

2. I had a lot of trouble trying to fit the second stanza into a definite rhythm. How is it now? Any suggestions?

3. Does the poem work in "showing" rather than "telling"?

Thank you very much.

I liked this poem very much. The metaphor of panning for gold as a way of describing life's choices I felt was very original. I liked the 2nd stanza very much. I had trouble with the 1st stanza. "The stream strikes the sieve and divides into precious ore, kept, while the residue washes away." Maybe you could say the stream strikes the sieve and releases precious ore while the residue washes away. The word "kept" is not needed here, since residue implies that the good is being kept. I think that this will help to clarify and make this more concise. This is just a suggestion. Let me know if you decide to change it.
Barbara Ehrentreu
USA - Mon Aug 21 23:54:36 2000

The metaphor was very noticlible and very original. I liked the second stanza, but the first one was a little confusing. I agree with Barbra E. on trying a different word than kept. It doesn't seem to fit very well. I really like the line "Lord, forgive the grit I've kept" it is very expresive of what this poem means.
Sarah Wetmore
USA - Tue Aug 22 14:58:45 2000
The metaphor works throughout. No problem for the second stanza. I too find the "kept" in the first stanza, unclear; if you want to use the verb that you repeat in the last stanza, I'd use " I keep". What I don't find effective is the repetition( six times) of "sieve". I think you should drop some and bring it back in the final stanza that gives the volta to the whole metaphor. Enjoyed the read. Thanks. Paula
Paula Grenside
Italy - Sun Aug 27 11:40:58 2000
Excellent Metaphor, maybe the word Sieve was used a little too much. I like the use of "grit."
Daniel C. Barnes
USA - Wed Sep 13 17:13:31 2000
Yes, I think that your metaphor works. Interesting vehicle through which to talk about your perceptions of the Romans passage. One idea I'd share just for your consideration. Having read the Romans passage,and at the risk of sounding like I'm getting into a theological discussion, I think about the sieve in a positive manner. It's an object that symbolizes for me the kind of love of God that's expressed throughout the gospels. God gives us unconditional love, no matter what we do. Therefore, when I think of your metaphor, I think of the sieve as (I'm referring to the last part of the poem) that "unconditional love." In the final analysis, our shortcomings are run through the sieve as opposed to being kept by God as reasons for punishment. I'm thinking that rather then relentlessly being sent toward the sieve, the sieve becomes something gentle that lets all of what we are go through without stopping. I did get theological, didn't I. Nancy Bowe,
Nan Bowe
USA - Sun Sep 17 16:41:30 2000

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