The moment I saw this referred to Rupert Brooke’s ‘The Soldier’ I knew I was going to love this, as I adore poetry from the First World War. However I quickly loved it in its own right - not just because of the literary reference. Your control of the sonnet form was so perfect, and the lilting iambic pentameter softened the content of the poem, which could have been presented as an anguished farewell, but was instead a celebration of life.
The language was incredibly evocative, and brought up some interesting concepts. For example, your use of alliteration throughout the first stanza (“forever France”; “a flower concealed/A flower of France”) seemed to me to suggest eternity - that as the alliteration carries on throughout the stanza, and not in just one line, so Fleur’s life will be carried on in people’s memories if she dies. What makes this so powerful is the way you bring in death to contrast with it: the “paper-thin pulse, slipping to death” highlighted the fragility of life, and you show the delicate balance between life and death on the brink of battle so subtly and brilliantly!
I liked the way you explored life and death, dealing with them alternately. It gave sort of ‘swinging’ effect, as though it was drifting through Fleur’s mind. I think this added to the lyricism of the language and the poignancy of the poem, again reflecting the fact that Fleur’s life stands so precariously at this point in time.
It was so interesting to see this poem from Fleur’s point of view: I’d never even considered the fact that this really isn’t her war, and that she was sacrificing so much in taking part in it. I suppose it proves the bravery that the Goblet of Fire saw, which we may not have done in earlier books, is justified. I loved that you addressed this to her sister. It brought more depth to their relationship, and I finally caught a glimpse of a life I’d never for a moment thought about with much seriousness. That’s something that, to me, makes a piece of fanfic so special, because it shows the author has really thought about the characters, and makes them come alive just that little bit more.
Author's Response: Thank you, Helena, for such a lovely, well-constructed review.
I have to thank Julia for her amazing prompts in PA. We had to take a known poem, Potterfy it, and use five set words (one of them was lumos, another yellow, I seem to remember).
I always feel a little sorry for Fleur in the Potter books and in fanfiction. She gets a raw deal at times because of her beuty, and yet she's so brave and really does give up all that's important to her (family and country) for Bill. This point of view is explored in a story by Weasley Mom called Doubts, if you're interested. Thanks you so much for this review. ~Carole~
I remember loving this poem in the challenge, Carole. I thought you captured the atmosphere (along with the more technical aspects) of The Soldier. It's beautifully heartbreaking yet subtle and not overwrought with emotion. Not to mention you were able to incorporate the compulsory words seamlessly. Seriously, the flow and rhythm in this poem is wonderful. It's a delight to read aloud.
I also really like the way you flipped the setting of the poem. I'm not sure if that was intentional when you first set out to write it but I think it was a great touch. It also gives a beautiful look at Fleur and her relationship with Gabrielle, which I've always been fond of, as a younger sister, myself.
I could quote this entire poem but these lines particularly touched me:
Warmed in yellow sun; dying far from home.
The contrast between the two fragments is very powerful.
You know I love the war poets so this was a real gem to see in the challenge. It is beautiful. You're a wonderful poet, Carole :)
Author's Response: I've delayed replying to this because I was gobsmacked with your review and know the response won;t do it justice. However ... I must now grasp the nettle, so to speak, because ... um ... I've left it too long. Firstly, thank you so very much for the review, it really means a great deal from you because your poetry is so good and both you and your amazing challenges inspire me. Secondly, this was the reason I gasped or gaped or went a bit mad on ls a while ago. hee hee - I was flailing.
Okay, flipping the setting of the poem was deliberate, as in, when I knew I wanted to write a copy of Forever England, I knew I wanted to write Fleur because she was in a foreign land and fighting for something she didn't have a great deal of connection to. The connection between the sisters was also something I had in mind because it is the very first thing we see about Fleur that makes us warm to her and adds to her humanity.
Thank you very much again. ~Croll~
It's nice to see Fleur in a nice light, especially after the Half-Blood Prince. (Phlegm)
Author's Response: I like Fleur and think a lot of the bad feeling towards her was caused by jealousy, so when I get the chance to write something more sympathetic, then I take it. Thanks for the review. ~Carole~
Deep. Inspiring. Good idea!
Author's Response: Thank you. Fleur did take on a lot when she took up with Bill. I'm not sure she gets enough credit. ~Carole~