Reviews For My Black Brother
Reviewer: Evora
Date: 08/26/11 16:41
Chapter: Chapter 1

Natalie,

Truthfully, I don’t know where to begin. I’ve already expressed to you via AIM how much I loved this poem; so much that I printed it and taped it on my wall (where all things beautiful are on). I actually showed it to my sister and my mom, but I forgot that they’re not big fans of Potter and so they asked how I came to like such a racist poem. Also, they aren’t big fans of poetry either. Anyway, when I first opened the chapter, I knew that it would be another gorgeous poem, either about Regulus or Sirius. As I read through it, each line gave me chills. It raised goose bumps on my skin. This is, by far, my favourite poem from you.

I love how, in the beginning, it immediately referenced to the other brother. It made the poem focused and very much straight to the point. There wasn’t any “the wind was cold, the night was dark.” What I mean is that you introduced the reader to the point of the matter without any obstructions. I love how you began the poem by writing the expectations of them being born into a strict pureblood family and how their whole life has already been planned. Even with someone who isn’t familiar with how the Black family held their household, your words are very clear-cut and enlightening (to that someone). I’ve always admired those poems that despite being a riddle itself, it’s still strong and prominent. Yours is obviously one of those. I find the whole first stanza to be one of the most beautiful parts, especially these lines: “we were born into hate/ fed the victual of rancor/ blindfolded/ and poisoned.” Like I said, clear-cut and strong. It told me how they were raised. They grew up in a home where the most negative things to expose a child to was the most prevalent.

But then, we hear Regulus’ perspective. Although he denied nothing of what Sirius said, he stood by the name of his family and didn’t turn his back to it, unlike what Sirius had done. In four lines, you were able to summarize Regulus’ belief: that despite how wrong they are, blood is thicker than water. Knowing that by then, Sirius had left his family, I felt how Regulus understood this action as the birthright transferring to him. Besides not wanting to disappoint his parents, he really did want to see the family flourish. His pride for being a Black made him overlook the fact that this wasn’t how children was supposed to grow up to; he still recognized his house as his home. Maybe it’s just me and how I’m sentimental.

Then, oh my goodness, the next stanza is just amazing. “You, the black sheep –/ cheapened by your dare/ to be different,” I love how Regulus not only saw Sirius as the permanently rebellious sibling, but a Gryffindor. It’s like he saw it that he lived in a whole other universe. I think being sorted into Gryffindor really pushed Sirius into the direction his mind was already going to: pureblood supremacy is WRONG. Because of that, I think Regulus saw it as the last push that made Sirius pull away from his family – from Regulus. I loved the “you became nothing/ But a hole in the wall.” Despite that being actually literal, I loved the sentiment of it. ‘A hole in the wall’ is rather an apt description of someone who is very noticeable, and at times, an annoyance. I think Sirius fit the description very well (in my sentimental view). :D (Noticeable because I hear he’s very attractive).

“Yet, as I stand by this lake/ As I fragment,” I really love the ‘as I fragment’ line. I really, really love it. It’s sort of a goodbye. There was a certain tone to it that I believe he felt calm in accepting his end. My artistic~ mind actually imagined him literally fragmenting into the air. “Drinking in my faults/ My fallacies/ I see the truth.” Again with the acceptance. ‘Drinking in my faults’ is such a heartfelt line. It felt like he was drunk with the capacity of it, of how much he realized were his mistakes.

The last stanza is my favourite, most especially the last line. As Regulus finally saw the big picture, he saw his own person as well and how it wasn’t an existence worth living again. “This was my existence/ Passionless and colourless.” Okay, honestly, I could cry from that. His mind was so ingrained into raising his family into the ranks of society and saving his skin from making Voldemort mad that he didn’t get to live the life of a seventeen-year-old at all. His life was such a contrast to his brother’s. Where Sirius was very much alive and laughing, he was dead and quiet. The way you wrote his epiphany is wholly beautiful. “Verily I submerge to my end/ Blacker than you.” Like with your “Dreams of Green” poem, you couldn’t have ended this better. I mean, the last line was like that of a time bomb’s reaching its last second. I honestly don’t know what else to say but how I felt fully connected with Regulus here. “Blacker than you,” felt like the most important goodbye in the whole poem. It felt like he was saying that he still looked up to Sirius, forth-comings and all. He still loved him as his brother, because blood is thicker than water. It also felt like an apology. So there; an apology, a goodbye. I said earlier that there’s a tone to the poem. It felt much like how whispered wishes float along the riverbank – quiet, resigned, and humbling.

With your poems, I never seem to notice that it’s free verse until after I look through it (after reading the whole thing). There’s a certain beat to it; a novelty of your poems, I’m sure. As usual, the flow is stunning. I’d like to say it’s almost palpable. The beauty of the concept of your poems, not to mention the lyrical composition, will always be something I will be in pursuit with. Thank you for writing such a lovely, inspiring, beautiful poem, Natalie. Keep writing! :-)

-Dinny

Author's Response: DIINNNNNNYYY!

Racist poem! EEK! D: I didn’t mean it that way! I hope they listened to you when you explained lol.

Uhm. I truly don’t know how to respond to the rest of your review – one reason why I have been putting it off for ages. It makes me giddy with happiness because you have caught everything I was hoping the readers would catch. It’s the biggest compliment anyone could get. Your compliment about my free verse also makes me feel rather light-headed. : ) Although I don’t do rhymes, I do try and put some rhythm in there, so it’s wonderful to hear I succeeded. I love you very much, for this review and for everything else.

Reviewer: welshdevondragon
Date: 07/08/11 12:38
Chapter: Chapter 1

Natalie--you may or may not know I find FF poetry difficult to read/ enjoy and review but this was beautiful so you now have the dubious honour of being the first poet whom I’m attempting to give a half-way decent review to.

One thing I love about this poem is that, whilst it’s obvious who it’s about, it easily works in its own right, without any specific connection to the Potterverse. The start immediately implies the distinction between the past and present and how distanced the narrator now is from the person he’s addressing the poem to. This immediately imbues the poem with a sense of regret and melancholy.

I like the way you play with Regulus’ self-determination, particularly in comparison to Sirius’ rebelliousness. Initially his path seems prescribed and the enjambement of “mapped out/ On a tapestry” emphasises the feeling that their lives were predestined. The contrasting view shown by Sirius in that verse, and then by Regulus in the second, is clever, particularly with the “Then” of the second verse continuing the emphasis of this being something he no longer thinks or feels. The contrast between Sirius seeing their family values as something already “poisoned” whilst Regulus seems to accept that, whilst poisoned, this is something he has to accept and therefore see “flourish”.

You don’t emphasise the contrast between Regulus and Sirius too strongly, but instead subtly imply it. I love the use of the word “Cheapened” in the phrase “Cheapened by your dare/ To be different” as it shows that Regulus clearly initially considered Sirius’ actions to make him worth less. I think the use of the phrase “Your sin” is an interesting one. I’m not entirely sure what you mean. If the sentence ran “Your sin in spurning” then I’d understand, but the way you phrased it seems to imply that sin should mean punishment. But it doesn’t. Maybe I’m reading way too much into this, but I’d read that as implying that, whilst Regulus reads Sirius’ speech in the first verse as criticising their family and implying their only option is to follow, Sirius sees himself as always being the Black Sheep and therefore he has less self-determination than Regulus.

I love the phrase “You became nothing/ But a hole in the wall” because although Regulus implies absence, by the very presence of the hole Sirius is still present and affects Regulus’ actions and the way he behaves. Although you don’t imply it here- nor do you need to- my favourite Regulus Black stories all show him as having to become the Black heir and therefore is very affected by Sirius departure from his family, on a political level as well as an emotional one.

I think the “Drinking in my faults” is a fantastic line, because whilst we know Regulus is literally being reminded of all his faults and mistakes, he is also metaphorically taking them in and to some extent embracing them. I like the way that the phrasing finally implies it is Regulus’ choice, as in he does not see himself as having been forced into anything because he accepts that in spite of being indoctrinated as a child, Sirius managed to escape this and Regulus just made the wrong choice, but acknowledges that he had a choice to make.

Although this is free verse, I love the way you’ve stuck to the structure of having each first line of a verse contain a single word, followed by a comma, and then the rest of the line. It gives the poem a formality which I think is very like the Black family. One thing that made me hesitate was that the repetition of “this”, whilst affective, because you’ve used free verse there’s no fixed pattern of stresses- therefore by italicising the second ‘this’ you could imply the stress yourself.

I like the way the last verse shows Regulus to have the equivalent self-worth to the worth he previously ascribed to Sirius and that by not rebelling, but conforming, his existence is meaningless. There is great dramatic irony in the fact that Regulus does try to make a difference and whilst canonically his note in the Horcrux has a somewhat triumphant tone, here he doesn’t even see that as something which redeems him, possibly due to the potion but more likely due to his acceptance of his own sins. The last line where he accepts that whilst Sirius is the ‘black sheep’ of the family, by any common morality Regulus’ actions have made him “blacker than you.”

Throughout I love the way this is addressed to Sirius, and that Sirius is the one Regulus thinks of in his final moments. I think it’s one of the saddest things in the Harry Potter books that Sirius dies without realising that, as impressionable as his brother might have been, in the end Regulus made the right choice. Anyway, Natalie, I loved this poem and hope this review shows that even in a small way. Alex

Author's Response: Wow. SPEW reviews generally make my day, and this one was no exception. Im flattered that you chose my poem.

Youre the second person on this page to say that this could have worked outside of the HP universe. Its a great compliment! I dont always write fan-poems with the intention of making them applicable outside of HP, mainly because I dont want to sacrifice the essence of the poems by trying to juggle canon familiarity and real life sentiments. So, it thrills me to hear that if Ive inadvertently managed to work my way around it.

Youve perfectly caught what I wanted to convey in the poem Sirius treachery, and the implications it has for Regulus. As for your sins for spurning, I meant it to mean his spurning his birthrights were his sins. Odd choice of prepositions, I know.

I loved reading your thorough analysis of the structure. I had worked hard on it, and to have it minutely examined like that is such a great reward. When I repeated this in the last para, I know I deviated a little. Still I wanted to keep the repetition as it put the emphasis I needed on what this implies in the poem.

Alex, seriously, this is one of the most wholesome reviews Ive ever received, and I can never squee enough. Thanks for dropping by!

~Natalie

Reviewer: keara96
Date: 01/01/11 18:17
Chapter: Chapter 1

wow, what an amazing poem! I loved your choice of words, although I will admit that I had to look a few up in the dictionary:)I was going to add to this review what my favorite lines or stanzas are, but I can't seem to choose!!!You are an awesome poet. Keep writing.

Author's Response: Thank you for all the good things you said. He he he. I'm happy you liked it - it's a poem that I'm a bit proud of. :)

~Natalie

Reviewer: FawkesToTheRescue
Date: 10/27/10 18:08
Chapter: Chapter 1

Natalie, do I have to say more? You are a brilliant poet. You chose the best topics, and you fill them with joy and spongy goodness. And it doesn't have to be joy, but the emotions you portray in your work are unbelievable. You are such an artist with words, Natalie, and that's what makes you great. I love this poem so, so incredibly much. Going on my faves!

-Megan

Author's Response: Oh hai!

*waves*

You're far too kind, Megan. :) But thanks for reading and reviewing. It means a lot to me.

~Natalie

Reviewer: ProfPosky
Date: 10/26/10 18:54
Chapter: Chapter 1

Oh. VERY. Nice.

It passes my test for a good HP poem - if you''ve never read the books, it still means something.

That final stanza is stunning.

Author's Response: PROFESSOR!



Thank you so much for reading and reviewing! :D:D:D:D Glad you liked it.



~Natalie

Reviewer: Gmariam
Date: 10/25/10 18:32
Chapter: Chapter 1

Very nice, Natalie! You have given us a very deep look into this character in a very short, intense burst. You're so good at this stuff. I love it. I think I was most impressed by the 'Yet, as I stand by this lake," stanza, because it's so sutble, but so important and so dramatic. The end is brilliant. Great job! ~Gina :)

Author's Response: Hello!



...a very short, intense burst.



I like that. ;) I think this is what I was talking about in my reply to your LJ post; I had trouble writing this poem, but that wasn't obvious when I finished it. Thank you for your review, Gina. I really appreciate it, and am happy you liked the poem.



~Natalie

Reviewer: Equinox Chick
Date: 10/25/10 12:51
Chapter: Chapter 1

Ah! Perfection in free verse. Natalie, you excel in this type of poetry. Not just free verse, but the D/A kind that wrenches at my guts. Just wonderful.

Okay, I guess I need some sort of concrit here, well, there's no crit, but just a total wonder at some of the lines you've used:

Fed the victual of rancour

As I fragment/Drinking in my faults.

Merlin, I'm in bits, here. You've captured Regulus so affectively in these words. I am not at all worthy, and I think you've won this stage.

Lord, I think I need to stop gushing ... but I can't.

One crit - Not enough dialogue for my taste *snort* ~Carole~

Author's Response: Hahaha!



I was worried you may have noticed a slip-up or something. Dialogue? I'll just have to make do with this monosyllabic answer: Hmmmm.



Glad to hear you liked it. :) The poem gave me trouble for some time. One fine day, I'll post the abominable first draft for all to see...provided I haven't deleted it yet. Heehee!



Thanks for the review!



~Natalie

Reviewer: ToBeOrNotToBeAGryffindor
Date: 10/25/10 11:05
Chapter: Chapter 1

Ooh, how very dark and awesome. :D

I like to think that failure to question the status quo is something only idiots do, but we both know that Regulus wasn't an idiot.I'd like to amend that to 'oblivious to the alternative', because that seems to fit better. You illustrate that so well. It's angsty, but not emo-ish, which makes it sparkle so very much. 

I think my favourite part is the entire last stanza. It says so much about how much Regulus regrets not having the bollocks to find his own way instead of living the life that was mapped out for him before he was born.

Gah, you so rock, and so does this poem, Madame Greengrass. I heart you!

~Jess



Author's Response: Hello!



:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D:D



Yep, you're so right. He was oblivious to the alternative, but he'd want to think that he didn't really know how to question it. ;) The last stanza is my favourite as well. I'm actually quite proud of this poem, if I may say so.



Thanks for reading and reviewing, Jess! I <3 you too!



~Natalie

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