Thanks for the thorough crit. I appreciate all the insight into the poem and your views on Lennon as well. Here are my answers to each note and my reasoning/explanation.
I would like to preface this critique by congratulating you on your bravery in posting that link, now you have to treat every crit as potentially hostile in that it may well be offered by a competitor. Seriously, thank you for that, may well look into it further myself.
You’re welcome for the link and as far as the competitors are concerned, I’m not too worried because I did this more as a tribute to one of the best poets/songwriters of the 20th century than as a contest winning entry. It would be nice if someone from MM won the contest with their entry. Maybe if we all ganged up on one or two entries, we could enhance that possibility.
The title references the 'epigram' later, I suppose - while fitting, it doesn't grab me; maybe something like 'Last Lyric' or better 'Lost Lyrics' as a direct reference to Lennon? In line 1, I would prefer to see 'should' - it has more of a 'musing' feel to it and picks up on the 'shadow' in l2. Line 3, you have a confusion between the plural 'minds' and the singular 'heart', I think the singular is more appropriate since his music did address the individual rather than the masses though in a popular way, if you follow me. Would also prefer 'but' to 'and' in that line to emphasise the contrast between 'hides' and 'impales' - it also strengthens 'behind' in Line 2. Line 5/6, would lose the comma and substitute 'as' for 'for' - to me that is more ambiguous since it can mean 'because' and ''while'; what I mean there is that the thought doesn't have time to articulate because it is not fully understood by the 'thinker' and escapes, which is how I read that line.
No Jim, the title references the very last words of the poem; “Yes… I am!” It has no hidden meaning which might reference John’s statement that the Beatles were better known than Christ or God’s “I Am!” Those three words were, in fact, the very last words John spoke before his death. He was answering a policeman’s question on the way to the hospital: “Are you John Lennon?” I do like the suggestion of “Last Lyrics” because of all the beautiful words and music lost to us when he died. What a shame!
L1 - should/could… The reason I didn’t use should is because that denotes one’s ability to have a choice in doing something. Could, on the other hand, contains the “if” possibility of his being able to sing although he is now dead. It is like a rhetorical question in a soliloquy from beyond.
L3 - Singular/plural… Not that confusing when you think of how most of John’s lyrics seemed to have an underlying meaning which eluded most minds. Think I’ll try “eluding” to start L3. Those few who finally understood the message were pierced to the heart by an emotional epiphany. I like your “but” for “and” substitution though. “And” might give the reader a false notion that all were affected.
L5/6 - point taken on “as” for “for”. Will edit accordingly but I think I should sub an ellipsis for the comma to emphasize “as understanding fades“.
In line 7, I would put 'never could have been' in quotes - I just did, didn't I? Line 8's 'single steps' would sound stronger as 'stumbled steps' imo - 'the wrong unknown' is his drug experimentation? Line 10, would quote 'when' to reflect 'never could have been' - not quite sure what you mean by 'when' there, past tense 'when' or future 'when'? Perhaps both, which is really quite clever. Love lines 11/12.
L7 - Don’t want to quote part of the whole statement and I think I’ll try “careless” for “single”. I know how much you like and use alliterative lines from reading some of your poems. You are correct in your read about the subject matter for that statement. It has to do with his drug experimentations and a few of his lyrics from, to name a few: “Borrowed Time”, “Cold Turkey” and “Crippled Inside”
L10 - Your take is spot on. I wanted to express a duality of remembering the past and each day becoming a “remember when” in “the future”.
The couplet worries me a little, to me this sonnet is weakest where it should be strongest. The last line is too long for the metre - if you count in the pause this becomes an alexandrine, was that your intention? But it is the vocabularly choices that really concern me. 'Epigram' is a short witty saying expressing a single thought; while I can see the attraction, I can't understand why you didn't use the more common 'epitaph' and line 12 seems to have 2 images. I like the first of these very much but worry about the connotations of the second the 'I am' - is this an echo of the 'bigger than Jesus' quote, that he is the biblical I am? I doubt that, more likely a reference to 'the walrus' but wanted to point out that pitfall. I would offer a comma after legacy, substitute 'my lilting epitaph,' to end line 13 and substitute 'that laugh' for 'yes... I am'. This would correct the length issue and leave the reader with an image of Lennon, 'laugh', that most would recognise.
Last couplet - I should have noted how I wanted the reader to pronounce “mem’ries” which would correct the metrical flow. I couldn’t use an alexandrine because the ending of the third foot is in the middle of “memories”. Besides, I’m way too much a meter maid to switch from IP to another metrical form. You didn’t look far enough into the possible definitions of “epigram” or you would have discovered it also means “A short poem ending in a witty or clever, and often a satirical turn of thought”. This definition could be the banner which flies over most of Lennon’s lyrics. His duality of meaning and wry but often caustic sense of humor were things I enjoyed most about his songs and his few published poems. This poem is not in any way, shape or form an epitaph nor is it biblical in nature. I stated above that the last three words of the poem are, in fact, his last.
I'm going to make the edits a soon as this reply is posted. Hope you like this version a little better and thanks for the title idea. Oh, the Lewis Carroll/John Lennon "I am the Walrus" was never in my mind when writing this piece although it is one of my favorites.
Again, thanks Jim,