Slytherin and Hufflepuff! Eeep!
What a beautiful tale! It felt so like a real story, and it was just magnificent! Great job. :)
Author's Response: I always ship Salazar/Helga, and I find it nearly impossible not to ship a a Gryffindor/a Ravenclaw and a Hufflepuff/a Slytherin. I think they actually compliment the other house really well. I'm glad you liked it, and thanks for the review.
Hi Ellie. I don't think I've ever reviewed anything of yours for some reason, so I'll now fix that.
I really liked the imagery of the wildflowers in this poem. It added to the fairytale theme, and I think it came to represent Helga's hope for their relationship; the fresh, live wildflowers represent her hope that the relationship will turn out well and her love for him-- the dying wildflowers represent her hope that he will return to her diminishing along with her love. I thought that the symbol tied the poem together beautifully, and gave it more meaning.
I especially like the choice of wildflowers. In fairytales, the more typical choice, I think, is roses. To me, roses evoke a very formal, yet romantic image, and often can feel somewhat clichéd. The wildflowers still evokes a romantic, but slightly more casual, intimate feel. They suggested that Helga and Salazar's relationship is more informal, intimate, and spontaneous. Wildflowers are, in my experience, a fairly resilient flower, which made me think that Helga and Salazar's relationship is emotionally intimate.
The death of the wildflowers because October has come represents, to me, that Salazar and Helga's relationship will inevitably fall apart. The coming of winter is inevitable, and flowers die because of the cold-- paralleling the breaking of the relationship between Salazar and Helga. I thought that this connected to the fairytale theme, because the miracle, like one in a fairytale, (or at least a greenhouse) is needed to keep the relationship from symbolically dying.
I think that the fairytale motif represents Salazar and Helga's relationship well. To me, fairytales have always represented innocence and the idea that reality can be overcome. Their relationship had the innocence of the story of a handsome peasant sweeping a beautiful princess off her feet and them living happily ever after. Their relationship is not quite that improbable, but they are both divided by their beliefs, and they are eventually what causes Salazar to leave her. The idea that a relationship can be maintained solely through the love of two people for each other seems very innocent to me, and for Helga and Salazar's relationship to work, I think in some ways the innocence of a fairytale is necessary.
It took me a while to figure out the first stanza, but the image of the princess lying in the field of wildflowers dreaming, suggested, to me that her waiting was in vain, and that her love for him was a dream. The combination of the living flowers and Helga dreaming suggested that she can only maintain hope for their relationship while she is in a fantasy world-- that their relationship will never, in reality, work out. She is surrounded by the dangerous wood, in which Salazar is trapped, unable to reach her. That there are insurmountable barriers (the woods) that make it inevitable that their relationship will fail. The barrier of the dark and dangerous wood, to me, paralleled the barrier of their beliefs about muggleborns.
The roles within the fairytale connected well with the roles of the characters. The connection between Helga and the princess was very easy for me to make since I've always seen Helga as the kindest and most innocent of the founders. I found the choice to portray Salazar as the peasant to be much more ironic. In theory, I would have imagined Salazar to be the dragon or the evil sorcerer, rather than the peasant. However, I think the improbably of the peasant and the princess' romance parallels Salazar and Helga's relationship wonderfully.
I think that my favorite image that you used in the poem was that of Salazar lying "shivering", seemingly helpless in the fen. The image of death on the land Salazar inhabits made me think of the death that his idea that muggleborns should not have magic would later bring. However, it also suggested to me that he was in some ways made helpless by his prejudices, which tore his love of Helga away from him.
You made Salazar a far more sympathetic character than the books portrayed him as. In the books I thought that he was portrayed essentially as a bigoted idiot. Whereas, I felt like you made him into a tragic figure, made helpless by his prejudices. I really liked this idea, it made Salazar feel more human to me, and it made him much, much easier to relate to.
Usually, I don't really like long poetry; I've always thought that the beauty of poetry is in its conciseness. Despite this poem's long-ish length, you used every word, which I think is what made me really appreciate the themes, motifs, and characterization.
The only critique that I have of this poem is that there were a number of places where I paused because of the tense of a verb, because the meaning was unclear, or because of word order. In the seventh line, you say a "peasant lie shivering". I had difficulty understanding what you meant in the eighth line-- I think that you meant that his dreams of her were wrenched from his heart. In the eleventh line, you say, "He bestowed her a wildflower", which made me pause because it doesn't make grammatical sense. I think it would make slightly more sense to say 'He bestowed upon her a wildflower'. In the twentieth line you say "hoping the memory her spirit lift.". Again, this made me pause because it doesn't make grammatical sense. It might make more sense to say, 'hoping that the memory would lift her spirit'. In the twenty-eighth line, you say "he conjured another flower behold". The use of the word behold in this sentence doesn't make much sense. If you really didn't want to break the rhyme scheme, I think a comma after the word 'flower' might clarify the sentence slightly. In the twenty-ninth line, you say "for scores and scores the two just lay". The way it sounds in the stanza sounds wonderful, but what you mean isn't terribly clear. I'd assume you mean scores of years, but you don't specify and years isn't implied in the word. In the thirty-eighth line, you say "the same October her love leave". The line made me pause because the verb isn't conjugated correctly. If you are using the past you would say, 'her love left'; if you want to say it in the present, it's 'her love leaves'; in the future, it's 'her love will leave'. The next line is "They lay down the Princess Helga". I wasn't sure to whom the word 'they' referred. My guess is that you reworded a lot of these lines to keep the rhyming pattern (which worked well), but honestly I think it would break the flow of less to add a false rhyme or even to just break the rhyming pattern altogether than to make the reader pause because of grammar or to try to figure out what a sentence means. If this were my poem, I'd break the rhyme pattern and use the meter of the lines and the imagery to hold the poem together. The only other thing I noted was that occasionally the tense was inconsistent. The last stanza was specifically where it stood out to me. This critique feels obscenely nitpicky, and in prose, I wouldn't mention it, but because flow is so important to poetry, I think that it really detracted from the beauty of this poem.
Despite the last paragraph, I really, really enjoyed this poem. (I would not have spent the at least an hour writing the last paragraph if I hadn't really enjoyed it.) The symbolism and the motif of the fairytale and the flowers tied the poem together, and I thought that most of the lines read very lyrically.
Author's Response: Wow. Thanks for the amazing SPEW review, Meg!
I like that my story came out clear. It's one of the things I worry about most during poetry, because of my odd phrasing. :) I chose the wildflowers because they're well, wild, and Helga and Salazar's relationship isn't exactly ... conventional. A peasant and a princess, and it's sort of a rebellion on Helga's part. So I'm glad those worked out.
As for the fairytale, I always pictured the time when the Founders were living as a time of knights, princesses, and just fairytales. It always seems to be like a fairytale from what we know from the sorting hat, and I had a lot of fun writing a different fairytale. And Salazar: I *do* tend to write him a little softer, because of my house, and because I really don't think his views, no matter how crazy and bigoted, just came out of nowhere. Something must have happened.
The weird lines: Yes, my very bad explanation for those would be that I needed to make them rhyme, and was attempting to stay in the same tense. I'll go and read over it again, and I'll try to fix them. Thank you, though, for pointing them out. As for the mysterious they, I'm not exactly sure who they were, but someone had to bury her .... and Salazar was already dead so it couldn't be him ... but, anyways, I'm really glad for the critique.
I'm really glad you liked it, though, and I'm glad it made somewhat of sense. Thanks for the just amazing review!
This is really good. i never thought someone would write something to make me sad for Salazar.
Author's Response: I'm so glad you liked it. I feel a lot of sympathy for Salazar ... but that might be because I'm a slippery little snake myself. If you like feeling sorry for Slytherins ... you should go check out Remember the Slytherins. It's a WIP, but I like it. :) Thanks for the review!