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"Tales of the Twilight Menshevik"

Stories in this series:

Sisters under Their Skins
Midnight Sun
A Year in the Life
October 6: A Night 2 Remember
A Day's Work
Late Summer Interlude
The Time the Twain Shall Meet
Message to a Grandchild
Ergo Bibamus 1: Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Lights in the Dark
Between the Woods and Frozen Lake
Ergo Bibamus 2: There's a Tavern Near the Town
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Someone Blue
Valentine Allsorts
The Ballad of Trish and Henry
Rogue's Fairy Tale
Magneto, My First Love
To My Dark-Haired Lady
The Raven and the Oriole
Trish -- A Rapture

Val and Ray at the Movies
March 2002
July 2002

Tales of Future Twilight
Ergo Bibamus 3: Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes
They Will Always Be Penny and Max to Me
Getting to Know You
Fourth Thursday in November
The Iceman's Tale
Pictures at an Exhibition
The Survivor Has a Different Kind of Scar

Twilight Yet to Come
Hang on to Your Ego
Strange Headfellows
Sonnet for Magnus
Between the Winds

DISCLAIMER: This is a unauthorized poem using characters that are (c) & TM by Marvel Comics. No profit is being made. The poem and the afterword is (c) Tilman Stieve ( You can download this and copy it for your entertainment, but don't sell it for profit, or Marvel will set their lawyers on you. Please do not archive this on your website without informing me first.
(This is Mystique's poem for Valerie Cooper, a companion piece to Val's sonnet in "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Someone Blue"):

A Ghazal for Valerie
Years after you first walked into my life, my Val,
To me as wife to man and man to wife, my Val,
You are. I take my time to learn to live with you,
And sometimes I still aggravate your life, my Val,
Not that you are the easiest of partners, dear,
We both can often cause each other strife, my Val,
Although the joy we share is more important still
And hurting you soon cuts me like a knife, my Val.
I am so grateful for each day that you're with me
Though I have never loudly called you wife, my Val.
Irene you bore, our second child inside you grows,
And I'm so glad that we now share our life, my Val,
We face our foes, red tape and sub-committees, too,
Who try to make our jobs with trouble rife, my Val.
I'd not foreseen it but I know that this is truth:
You're Raven's love and you are Raven's life, my Val.

This was written for a challenge I issued on the Outside the Lines mailing list: Write a poem in a classic form (preferably one you have never done before) either about a comicbook character of your choice or as if such a character had written it. Which was sparked by the sonnet I had Val write for Raven.
I had wondered how Raven might respond to that and originally had intended to have her write another sonnet, but this time in the Petrarchan, not Shakespearean format. But then I wondered about other forms and came across the ghazal.
The ghazal is originally an Arabian form that also was frequently used in other Islamic countries, especially Persia. During the Romantic era, a few German poets started a bit of a fad for it, but it never became fully accepted. I guess the repetetive rhymes (aa ba ca da ...) -- which can be reinforced by always repeating a word or phrase after the rhyming word -- left it open to ridicule and parody. And that, I think, would be the reason for Raven to choose this of all forms: It would leave her the escape route of saying that she was not being (entirely) serious, which would tie in with her tendency towards irony and the difficulties she has experienced in the "Tales of the Twilight Menshevik" when it comes to put her feelings for Valerie into words.
Probably the best-known German writer of ghazals was Count August von Platen (1796-1835), who on the purely technical level was perhaps one of the best writers of poetry of his time, but who somehow lacked the spark to become one of the greats. Platen was rather controversial, which probably had less to do with the fact that he was gay, than with his many and often personal attacks on writers who did not conform to his rarified ideals of purity in form and content. His feud with Heine, whom he maligned for his Jewish origins and who riposted by ridiculing Platen's homosexuality, is well remembered by literary historians. As a matter of fact, the second line of this poems is taken from one of Platen's ghazals, which starts:
Ich bin wie Leib dem Geist, wie Geist dem Leibe dir;
Ich bin wie Weib dem Mann, wie Mann dem Weibe dir;

(I am as body to spirit, as spirit to body for you/I am as wife (woman) to man, as man to wife (woman) for you), which struck me as oddly appropriate to the strange family relationships in the Cooper/Darkhölme household, but also as an interesting metaphor for a (symbiotic?) relationship between equals.


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