(Ah, I see you've just posted a reply to Zach while I was writing this)
I suspect this will be one of those poems you'll look back on in a year or two and see as a large step along the poetic way. I wrote something very similar about 10 years ago, and I remember how proud I was when I finished it. Now when I look at it I am not ashamed of it in the way I am of some of my earlier efforts, because I see in it the dawning realisation of the power of metaphor and imagery. What you've done here is what I did, you've worked very hard to produce some good images and you've also strived to maintain the metaphor throughout the piece, but, in a sense, I think you've done almost too well.
Don't get me wrong, this poem projects you way beyond novice writing, because let's be clear, all the basics are right:
- as you no doubt know, you've maintained the meter very well indeed, with just enough allowable variation from the iambic pattern to break the monotony.
- your rhyme scheme is fine and the rhymes unobtrusive and in no way forced.
- your punctuation, spelling, grammar (with a couple of possible exceptions - "eye's"? and "broke"?) are all fine.
- it's not self-serving or self absorbed, it's not a "diary entry", it doesn't use hackneyed or overused phrases (apart from maybe "fiery blast!), and not one soul or angel or star or pain or heart or beach or rose or shard!! Yay!
In fact to cut a long story short it's an interesting piece to read over and over, and a competent piece of writing you can be proud of ... can you hear the "but" coming ... ?
But ... you can move on now and do better. In this poem as I said earlier you have mastered the use of imagery and extended metaphor, but you've perhaps "over-mastered" them. In your anxiety to show that mastery you have done what all poets tend to do as they progress, over-egged the pudding just a little.
What I mean is that good contemporary poetry tends to err on the side of conversational rather than the flowery or poetic. Even in formal metrical work, the diction tends to err towards the patterns and sounds of ordinary speech. So that if you find yourself writing too much stuff that you would not normally be comfortable with in day to day dialogue you should perhaps question why you are doing it. Would you for instance say to your Mom: "Good grief Mom I'm suffering from a bad dose of the blazing demise of time"? My guess is that she might look at you a little strangely. I'm not saying that you should simply cut out all such language, but just be sparing, and scrutinise it carefully to see whether the same message couldn't be conveyed in a simpler, and perhaps more elegant way. One thing you can do to help yourself recognise overly poetic writing is to look out for too many unnecessary adjectives or adverbs. In your poem you maybe have a few:
Vinaceous curtains dangled down its windowpanes,
Before the ashes covered its transparent door,
Then shattered by its keeper's fear and loss,
Escaping death by jumping out the second floor.
While claret stains, that laid there on its pallid rug,
Had shriveled up from theblazing demise of time,
Its every room, was swallowed by a blackened smoke,
And fiercely choked by life's malicious crime.
No fear had quivered its foundation, but it tried.
Its dread had scorched the crimson bedding, its soft shield,
And though a violent thrust had broke its entrance down,
A fiery blast erupted out and would not yield.
The eye's of its poor master fell on vicious grounds,
To see hislife's eviction notice, taunting fate,
As vivid, orange-yellow flames, then correspond,
With hidden blues and violets, indigos and hate.
I've bolded some of the words and phrases that might be either redundant (isn't smoke always black? Etc), or else over-written.
The other main issue with this poem is the air of a riddle which it possesses and clings onto throughout. Nothing wrong with a riddle poem of course, and perhaps you intended it to be so, but the subject it becomes so dominating as to be a little distracting. I think the problem could be solved quite simply by not referring directly to "it" quite so much. After all you have "it" in 9 lines out of 16 and sometimes twice in a line. As for the riddle itself I'm not at all sure I "get" it; not that that's terribly important, but it might help to fill in some of the obscurities - for instance the sudden reference to the jump from the second floor in L4. Because of that very concrete bit of description in L4 I finally decided to read the poem as a piece about a real fire in a real house, but also simultaneously a metaphor for the fear on the face of the owner and the way the face changes in hue from blazing red to deathly pale. The inclusion of the final word "hate" made me pause for thought again though, because it took me back to "life's malicious crime", and I wonder whether in fact the owner of the face is full of emotion and hate for more than just the crime of arson, or whether in fact there is a real fire at all, and in fact the whole catalogue of imagery is simply metaphoric: the red curtains as bloodshot eyes; the ashes an ashen face; the transparent door the door to a heart or soul or simply the doorway of the eyes; the claret stains on the pallid rug the bright red blotches on white skin; the crimson bedding and soft shield, blood filled cheeks etc etc. It works for me.
Also on the positive side the unusual word at the opening caught my attention - good start, and I thought the closure was just stunning:
"As vivid, orange-yellow flames, then correspond,
With hidden blues and violets, indigos and hate."
I loved the fire imagery and metaphor in this. The way that in a fire the colour spectrum is such that the hot blues and indigos are "hidden" in the heart of the fire while the dancing and obvious orange-yellow but cooler flames are on the outside, perfectly mirrors the idea of the emotions on a face being blazoned in reds on the skin while deeper in the heart an even stronger passion burns in blues and violets (nice play of "violet" with "violent"). I think the inclusion of the emotion "hate" with the list of colours was a master-stroke - a perfect example of an abstract noun "hate" being used well.
My advice is that you don't tamper with this poem. It's lovely as it is, and like I say, a big step forward. In your future writing you might like to consider some of what I say above, but really at this point in your writing Christine you could do with finding some contemporary poets who you like and then read read read read read read read read read. You are definitely at the stage where your mind would absorb techniques and ideas from other good writers almost without you knowing it - and your poetry would benefit greatly as a result. If you haven't got any contemporary poetry anthologies then you should try your best to get hold of some; library for instance.
Very good work Christine.
PS Did I remember to suggest that you read contemporary poetry.