A few poems I like

Orhan Veli & Nazım Hikmet poems

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Re: A few poems I like

#21  Postby orpheus » Nov 22, 2013 5:15 am

I can never read this one without tears.

Fern Hill

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.

All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
And playing, lovely and watery
And fire green as grass.
And nightly under the simple stars
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars
Flying with the ricks, and the horses
Flashing into the dark.

And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white
With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all
Shining, it was Adam and maiden,
The sky gathered again
And the sun grew round that very day.
So it must have been after the birth of the simple light
In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm
Out of the whinnying green stable
On to the fields of praise.

And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house
Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,
In the sun born over and over,
I ran my heedless ways,
My wishes raced through the house high hay
And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
Before the children green and golden
Follow him out of grace,

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
In the moon that is always rising,
Nor that riding to sleep
I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

—Dylan Thomas
“A way a lone a last a loved a long the”

—James Joyce
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Re: A few poems I like

#22  Postby orpheus » Nov 22, 2013 5:27 am

Ed è subito sera

Ognuno sta solo sul cuor della terra
trafitto da un raggio di sole:
ed è subito sera

—Salvatore Quasimodo


And it's suddenly evening

Each one stands alone on the heart of the earth
transfixed by a ray of sun:
and it's suddenly evening

(translation by orph)
“A way a lone a last a loved a long the”

—James Joyce
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Re: A few poems I like

#23  Postby orpheus » Nov 22, 2013 5:34 am

Ecce Puer

Of the dark past
A child is born;
With joy and grief
My heart is torn.

Calm in his cradle
The living lies.
May love and mercy
Unclose his eyes!

Young life is breathed
On the glass;
The world that was not
Comes to pass.

A child is sleeping:
An old man gone.
O, father forsaken,
Forgive your son!

—James Joyce
“A way a lone a last a loved a long the”

—James Joyce
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Re: A few poems I like

#24  Postby orpheus » Nov 22, 2013 5:48 am

I think for copyright reasons I can't quote it here, but read "Aubade" by Philip Larkin.

Incidentally, this was one of Hitchens's favorite poems.
“A way a lone a last a loved a long the”

—James Joyce
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Re: A few poems I like

#25  Postby cherries » Nov 22, 2013 10:13 pm

i love to read this out loud and i like ravens :)

Edgar Allan Poe
The Raven

[First published in 1845]


Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!'
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!'
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more!'

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.'

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.'
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.'

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never-nevermore."'

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.'

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels name Lenore?'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!
"Most books on witchcraft will tell you that witches work naked.
This is because most books on witchcraft were written by men."
-Terry Pratchett / Neil Gaiman




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Re: A few poems I like

#26  Postby orpheus » Nov 23, 2013 1:59 am

cherries wrote:
Image


:clap:

A classic.
“A way a lone a last a loved a long the”

—James Joyce
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Re: A few poems I like

#27  Postby THWOTH » Nov 23, 2013 11:17 pm

As Long as You’re Upright

    Don’t forget to rejoice! —
    the wise trees whisper
    as they crash on failing knees
    under the axe.

    Don’t forget to rejoice!
    As long as you’re upright,
    as long as you encounter the wind,
    as long as you breathe the heights.
    As long as the axe slumbers.
-- Blaga Dimitrova
"No-one is exempt from speaking nonsense – the only misfortune is to do it solemnly."
Michel de Montaigne, Essais, 1580
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Re: A few poems I like

#28  Postby cherries » Nov 24, 2013 2:12 am

orpheus wrote:
cherries wrote:
Image


:clap:

A classic.


it's awesome :)

i have to link to that one:

http://www.bornmagazine.org/projects/whystayup/project.html
"Most books on witchcraft will tell you that witches work naked.
This is because most books on witchcraft were written by men."
-Terry Pratchett / Neil Gaiman




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Re: A few poems I like

#29  Postby kennyc » Nov 24, 2013 2:15 am

(a bit long, I don't usually like long poems but this is one of my favorite poets)

Persimmons
BY LI-YOUNG LEE

In sixth grade Mrs. Walker
slapped the back of my head
and made me stand in the corner
for not knowing the difference
between persimmon and precision.
How to choose

persimmons. This is precision.
Ripe ones are soft and brown-spotted.
Sniff the bottoms. The sweet one
will be fragrant. How to eat:
put the knife away, lay down newspaper.
Peel the skin tenderly, not to tear the meat.
Chew the skin, suck it,
and swallow. Now, eat
the meat of the fruit,
so sweet,
all of it, to the heart.

Donna undresses, her stomach is white.
In the yard, dewy and shivering
with crickets, we lie naked,
face-up, face-down.
I teach her Chinese.
Crickets: chiu chiu. Dew: I’ve forgotten.
Naked: I’ve forgotten.
Ni, wo: you and me.
I part her legs,
remember to tell her
she is beautiful as the moon.

Other words
that got me into trouble were
fight and fright, wren and yarn.
Fight was what I did when I was frightened,
Fright was what I felt when I was fighting.
Wrens are small, plain birds,
yarn is what one knits with.
Wrens are soft as yarn.
My mother made birds out of yarn.
I loved to watch her tie the stuff;
a bird, a rabbit, a wee man.

Mrs. Walker brought a persimmon to class
and cut it up
so everyone could taste
a Chinese apple. Knowing
it wasn’t ripe or sweet, I didn’t eat
but watched the other faces.

My mother said every persimmon has a sun
inside, something golden, glowing,
warm as my face.

Once, in the cellar, I found two wrapped in newspaper,
forgotten and not yet ripe.
I took them and set both on my bedroom windowsill,
where each morning a cardinal
sang, The sun, the sun.

Finally understanding
he was going blind,
my father sat up all one night
waiting for a song, a ghost.
I gave him the persimmons,
swelled, heavy as sadness,
and sweet as love.

This year, in the muddy lighting
of my parents’ cellar, I rummage, looking
for something I lost.
My father sits on the tired, wooden stairs,
black cane between his knees,
hand over hand, gripping the handle.
He’s so happy that I’ve come home.
I ask how his eyes are, a stupid question.
All gone, he answers.

Under some blankets, I find a box.
Inside the box I find three scrolls.
I sit beside him and untie
three paintings by my father:
Hibiscus leaf and a white flower.
Two cats preening.
Two persimmons, so full they want to drop from the cloth.

He raises both hands to touch the cloth,
asks, Which is this?

This is persimmons, Father.

Oh, the feel of the wolftail on the silk,
the strength, the tense
precision in the wrist.
I painted them hundreds of times
eyes closed. These I painted blind.
Some things never leave a person:
scent of the hair of one you love,
the texture of persimmons,
in your palm, the ripe weight.

Li-Young Lee, “Persimmons” from Rose. Copyright © 1986 by Li-Young Lee. Reprinted with the permission of BOA Editions Ltd., www.boaeditions.org.
Kenny A. Chaffin
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Re: A few poems I like

#30  Postby kennyc » Nov 24, 2013 2:17 am

and one more not quite as long :)

The Gift
BY LI-YOUNG LEE

To pull the metal splinter from my palm
my father recited a story in a low voice.
I watched his lovely face and not the blade.
Before the story ended, he’d removed
the iron sliver I thought I’d die from.

I can’t remember the tale,
but hear his voice still, a well
of dark water, a prayer.
And I recall his hands,
two measures of tenderness
he laid against my face,
the flames of discipline
he raised above my head.

Had you entered that afternoon
you would have thought you saw a man
planting something in a boy’s palm,
a silver tear, a tiny flame.
Had you followed that boy
you would have arrived here,
where I bend over my wife’s right hand.

Look how I shave her thumbnail down
so carefully she feels no pain.
Watch as I lift the splinter out.
I was seven when my father
took my hand like this,
and I did not hold that shard
between my fingers and think,
Metal that will bury me,
christen it Little Assassin,
Ore Going Deep for My Heart.
And I did not lift up my wound and cry,
Death visited here!
I did what a child does
when he’s given something to keep.
I kissed my father.
Kenny A. Chaffin
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Re: A few poems I like

#31  Postby orpheus » Nov 25, 2013 4:21 am

Just discovered this: Samuel Beckett reading two of the poems from his novel Watt. One of the very rare recordings of his voice. The accompanying video footage of him is both sweet and haunting, too.

http://www.openculture.com/2013/03/rare ... watti.html
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Re: A few poems I like

#32  Postby orpheus » Nov 25, 2013 4:24 am

And then, of course, Sam's shortest poem — just four words ordered carefully to yield so many possible meanings:

"Away dream all away"
“A way a lone a last a loved a long the”

—James Joyce
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Re: A few poems I like

#33  Postby THWOTH » Nov 26, 2013 12:46 am

Reminds me of Roger McGough's Poem for National LSD Week...

    "Mind, how you go!"


:dizzy:
"No-one is exempt from speaking nonsense – the only misfortune is to do it solemnly."
Michel de Montaigne, Essais, 1580
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Re: A few poems I like

#34  Postby orpheus » Nov 26, 2013 3:10 am

THWOTH wrote:Reminds me of Roger McGough's Poem for National LSD Week...

    "Mind, how you go!"


:dizzy:


I like that! :thumbup:
“A way a lone a last a loved a long the”

—James Joyce
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Re: A few poems I like

#35  Postby THWOTH » Dec 03, 2013 12:18 am

kennyc @ New comet C/2012 S1 (ISON)

    The Death of C/2012 S1

    From the beginning it was there
    Before the Earth, before the Sun.
    It watched as the planets
    and their ordinary sun coalesced

    Drifting, floating, flying
    along with those of its kind,
    those of the Oort cloud

    Composed of the same
    star-stuff as you and I,
    water, ice, and carbon
    that brought life itself
    to our lonely planet
    turning it blue
    turning it green
    as it basked in the glorious
    light of the sun

    ‘til we humans arrived
    to watch the approach of comet ISON
    perturbed from its ancestral home
    forced by gravity to journey inwards,
    towards and past those planets
    it watched form from its lofty perch
    a thousand times more distant

    Pulled past the giant Jupiter
    threading through the asteroid belt
    passing Mars and Earth, the living one

    Seeking not through a need of its own
    but constrained, pulled, and forced by gravity
    to graze the Sun and to there die
    releasing its constituent parts
    once more to the universe


      Kenny A. Chaffin – 11/29/2013
"No-one is exempt from speaking nonsense – the only misfortune is to do it solemnly."
Michel de Montaigne, Essais, 1580
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An Essay on Morals by Jon P. Gunn

#36  Postby ricklakin » Dec 17, 2014 2:27 pm

I'd be interesting in your thoughts on this poem by a friend of mine. From The Apes of Eden - The Age of Thinkers by Jon P. Gunn.

An Essay on Morals

You should have heard our thinkers go the rounds
on Ethics and its theologic grounds,
in scholarly, and bitter, verbal strife
about what constitutes the Moral Life.
The three most urgent questions on our list
were, first and foremost, Does a God exist?
and second, Can we Free Volition find
in mechanistic functions of the mind?
but all the toughest arguments we had
concerned What constituted Good and Bad.

One area where no two apes agree
is that of Ethics, or Morality.
The question, What ought one to do? was found
to be an issue we could kick around
as long as tempers held, and never make
the slightest headway, nor a deadlock break .
We wracked our brains for centuries on end
to figure out: On what does Good depend-­
on Pleasure, Duty, Harmony or Love,
the Will of God, or none of the above?
Is Good a mere contingent quality
which apes can only sense subjectively;
or does a thing itself have what one could
call an "inherent" or "objective" Good?
An object's "value" isn't evident
objectively to any great extent
unless it shines or glitters, and displays
its trinket-value in objective ways;
yet one persistent habit in the Tribe
is "value" to dead objects to ascribe.

Philosophy had been, till then, concerned
with what (if anything) the Tribe had learned
about the Nature of Reality
with special focus on theology.
Regrettably, however hard we tried
to stick to this, the subject ramified.
The reason for the sidetrack was that creeds
then current, came to stress the worth of deeds
as well as True Belief, to save one's soul.
Defining "worth" became the thinkers' goal
because our preachers always disagreed
about which moral tenets one should heed.
They had to clash, in order to protect
the unique purity of every sect;
so sages had to figure out the Good
and True and Beautiful, or no one could.
Besides, our writers on philosophy
found definitions a necessity,
and therefore had the expertise one needs
not found among adherents of the creeds.
Such terms as "right" and "good," when loosely used
made Reasoning grow tangled and confused.
No accusation made a scholar squirm
like that of having "not defined a term"
in his exhaustive monograph, involved
with every question hitherto unsolved,
so that, instead of winning just applause,
his work was merely laughed at for its flaws.

Though Good and Bad are told apart with ease,
one gets entangled in priorities
in any case of which it's fair to say
it's neither Black nor White, but murky gray.
Moreover, to predict the end result
of good and evil deeds, is difficult;
and sometimes Righteous Acts are later found
with Evil Consequences to abound.
The problem is that "benefit" derives
from leading somewhat less-than-moral lives.
The fact that chiselers oftentimes succeed
in life, while honest apes end up in need
has been a source of disillusionment
since ancient times, for apes of good intent.
Not only that, but Adverse Fortune could
pass over scoundrels and assail the good—
another case of seeming Cosmic Flaws
that made us wonder whether Nature's Laws
(the ones alleged to prove that God exists)
were fabrications by our theorists.
The question was inevitably raised
of whether "morals" had been misappraised
so that the "good" and "bad" we apes believed
we saw in objects, we'd ourselves conceived;
and whether certain of the rules we had
for differentiating Good from Bad
were either false, or poorly understood.

So thinkers reexamined what was "good"
and found the problem thorny. Some opined
that "good" could scarcely even be defined,
and that they'd all be very much surprised
it anyone could get it analyzed.

The terms are various. Key words are "good"
and "value." Common verbs are "ought" and "should"
--though these are quickly redefined to give
their definitions through some adjective:
We "ought" to do what's "good" or "right" to do,
and "should" as tantamount to "ought" construe.
Both verbs to "obligation" are resolved,
so Value Judgments always get involved
before the circumspect philosopher
to anything objective can refer.
The omnipresent danger is, in these,
that they'll reduce to Circularities.
Though Up and Down we readily define
by reference to a mason's weighted line,
our Good and Evil commonly relate
to Should and Shouldn't--so they circulate,
since "should" and "ought" must be in turn defined
with "values"--products of the thinker's mind.
The frequency with which this has occurred
in treatises on Ethics, is absurd.

These "value words," although it may seem odd,
confuse the Thinking Ape, but not the clod.
A moron knows by Instinct what they mean;
but they're in subtle applications seen,
where terminology must be precise
and brainless Intuition won't suffice.
The "value" of a pound of beans or tea
is not the "value" of Morality.
The "value" of a poem isn't quite
the same as that of some religious rite.
All these are "good," but good in ways where we
cannot define the similarity.
The first in coins or trade-goods is defined;
the second use describes a turn of mind;
the third uplifts one's soul, esthetically;
the fourth helps apes commune with Deity
or puts some deep Religious Truth across
for which, with words alone, we're at a loss.
The axiologist must now confirm
that there's a general meaning for the term.

So much for "Good" as generality;
our present topic is Morality.
Although simplistic Moral Codes abound,
in each some ambiguities are found,
allowing apes of Pharisaic mind
the faults of others, not themselves, to find.
Most answers to the question, What to do?
are merely slogans: "To thyself be true,"
or "Drown thy woes in revelry and song,”
or "Cherish what is Right, and shun what's Wrong”
or "Do as law and custom tell you to,"
or "Do as you'd have others do to you."
One cannot live by shibboleths like these
without a system of Priorities;
and any way the problem is attacked
this is exactly what the slogans lacked .

Pursuing Right and Shunning Wrong is fine,
until your rights and wrongs conflict with mine;
and then confusion reigns. Our Moral Rights
are frequent grounds for arguments and fights
wherein each party is completely sure
his rationale is virtuous and pure.

That's why a thinker I shall later cite
insists that mindless Force defines what's "right"
--for reasons even Killer Apes should see
holds little water, philosophically.
A conflict does more harm than good, if it
results in no one's real benefit.
Both "A" and "B" are righteous. Both mean well.
Mere lack of common rights and wrongs compel
their "Last Resort" to strife which neither chose,
and turned good neighbors into mortal foes.
"A" perished; "B" survived. Each had to fight
in brave defense of what he knew was Right-­
both justified in their conflicting needs
according to their private moral creeds.
Suppose that "A" was right, and "B" was not.
The issue's settled, but what have we got?
Each fought for what he knew was Just and True,
but "A" lies dead, while "B" is black and blue
and gloats about his well-won Moral Wreath
while limping homeward, counting broken teeth.

This is a Moral Situation, and
a case we have to try to understand:
Has Evil really triumphed; or has "B”’s
mistake been punished with his injuries?
Is "A" rewarded--since we know he must
have taken solace, ere he bit the dust,
in knowing that, by cosmic standards, he,
and not his foe, deserved the victory?
Was "B" rewarded for his being wrong?
Does God assist the evil and the strong,
or will "B" suffer for his past mistakes
in future quarrels that he undertakes?

Now let's suppose that "B" was in the right
by some objective canon. Can we quite
condone his carrying to such extremes
what he as moral Truth and Justice deems,
or did he, at some juncture in the brawl,
surpass his moral duty's righteous call
and let his Instincts--being what they are-­
supplant Pure Ethics, as his Guiding Star?
If so, should tribal sanctions be applied,
since by his hand a fellow ape has died;
or does his being in the Right outweigh
his having done more harm than good, that day?
If not, then can his aches and fractures be
a fair reward for Rightful Victory
in quarrels which should never have occurred?

Some common Standard would have been preferred,
not only from a Cosmic point of view
but for our tribal strength and welfare, too.
Our tribal code was written to prevent
such loss of life through “moral accident.”

The moral implication is, of course,
that Wrong can oftentimes prevail, by force;
and Deity, with Wisdom Infinite,
will seldom deign to get involved in it.
So combat, most philosophers agree,
while settling quarrels, holds no guarantee
that he whose fists and fortunes win the fight
is--in perspective--either wrong or right.


An Essay on Morals (concluded)

Although our tribal code is full of flaws,
we benefit from arbitrary laws;
so here's another Guiding Light for you:
"Do just as law and custom tell you to!"

Though stupid laws will do more good than none,
few apes agreed that all was said and done,
once laws were made. We felt that Nature owed
the Tribe a Universal Moral Code.
But what is "right" or "good" has much to do
with idiosyncratic points of view.
"One tribesman's meat's another's poison," and
"What's sauce for geese may not be sauce for gand­
ers." Moral thinkers floundered all around,
but couldn't get their feet on solid ground.
A scribe sees "value" in a piece of stone
beyond the "innate good" of rock alone:
A slab of rock--a bulky nuisance to
the ploughboy--may be "valuable" to you
for being tablet-shaped, with the exact
dimensions you may need to write a tract.
A stone upon the path is "neutral"--though
it turns Malicious when you stub your toe.

If Strength is not our standard, might Success
in Life extract us from this sophic mess?
The theory is that God rewards the good
by helping them obtain their livelihood;
which indicates, when all is said and done,
that God decrees: "Look out for Number One!"
The "Social Darwinism" this implies
sounds better to the rich than to the wise,
reminding us of several clear cut flaws
in "social orders" based on teeth and claws.
We toil and scheme, and each of us derives
the most we can from our respective lives.
Some apes are spendthrift, others try to save;
but all end up with nothing, in the grave.
When apes have everything on earth they need
yet keep on striving, this is known as "greed."
If other apes, who are content with less,
avoid the rat-race, that’s called "shiftlessness.”
Since Greed and Sloth are both immoral, may
we seek perfection in the Middle Way?
Few recommend that course; the Golden Mean
as lukewarm “wishy-washiness” is seen.
It’s evident that any course we take
impresses others as a Big Mistake.

"Good" sometimes fluctuates. Such "goods" as foods
depend on evanescent attitudes,
appearing "better" as one breaks a fast
than after stuffing down a rich repast.
Some “good" is not inherent, we conclude,
but stems from one's subjective attitude.
Does every "good" and "evil" therefore rise
from how it's viewed through someone's biased eyes,
like Left and Right, which, if regarded from
new viewpoints, their own opposites become?
This last was very quickly seen to be
a problem in epistemology:
Do flowers which "inherently" are blue
appear to someone else of different hue?-­
a question leading someone to remark
that nothing's any color in the dark.
If nothing's good or bad inherently
unless some ape perceives its quality,
do falling rocks, or thunder, make no sound
if no one who can hear them is around?

Yet this Subjectivistic Ethic seems
preposterous, if carried to extremes:
Sound sleep is obviously Good, although
until the sleeper wakes, he doesn't know
if he's enjoying it or not. Therefore
it's "unperceived," unless he starts to snore.
Might God become an "evil” to despise
if apes did not perceive Him otherwise?
This is absurd, but has to be agreed
if good and evil from ourselves proceed.
We're driven to conclude Inherent Good
exists, if it's correctly understood;
and variations in our attitude
prove only that our Value Sense is crude.
We strove by application of the mind
to make our apperceptions more refined;
but all our efforts, as it now appears,
were stymied for another thousand years.

A dozen inconsistencies arise
from stating that The Good in pleasure lies-­
the classic Hedonistic point of view.
It seems, intuitively, to be true
that Good brings pleasure and that Bad brings pain;
yet problematic instances remain.
Enjoyment comes in many different ways--
from food, possessions, health, and others’ praise.
It comes and goes as slyly as an elf,
as indefinable as "good" itself.
An altruistic ape, for instance, may
take more delight in giving things away
than in obtaining them; so some believe
"It better is to give than to receive;"
while egocentric apes are merely bored
when told that "Virtue is its own reward."

Another Snag arises when we find
that tribesmen with a certain turn of mind
enjoy the feeling of disliking things--
no other sentiment such pleasure brings.
No precious gem exists, by which they're awed;
it's either ostentatious, or it's flawed.
The fellow tribesmen whom they most despise
are those who have no faults to criticize.
Although no pleasure pleases them a bit,
they do take pleasure in disliking it.

Our scribes and poets praise the heroes bold
who lived and fought and died in days of old;
and storytellers fervidly describe
how ancient heroes glorified the Tribe.
Their deeds must surely be accounted "good;"
and yet it's hard to see how "pleasure" could
be readily derived from martial strife
and other hardships of a hero’s life.
This is explained, the hedonist will say,
as "pleasant" in an altruistic way;
they know that other apes, who benefit
from tribal glory, are enjoying it.
Besides, some Killer Apes take keen delight
from the exhilaration of a fight.
So "pleasure" must be slightly redefined
to make allowance for this turn of mind.

But martyrs, known to human history
have died by torment voluntarily,
although no "pleasure" from such deaths could be
derived by them, nor by posterity.
The hedonist explains that martyrs take
some strange delight from burning at the stake.
But "stretching definitions till they fit"
is just an exercise in verbal wit;
for when we're asked what "pleasure" is, we could
define it as "reaction to The Good. "
Another vicious circle is obtained;
and not a jot of understanding gained.

One fine distinction must be understood:
there's instrumental and intrinsic Good.
No "pleasure" came from hoeing corn all day,
yet nothing else would keep the weeds at bay.
The weeds were not "innately" good or bad,
and had the selfsame "rights" our cornstalks had-­
except that "noxious" weeds’ unchallenged growth
would crowd the corn; there wasn't room for both.
And, since uncrowded cornstalks in one's field
produced what we would call a "better" yield
(which meant we'd more to eat), it's understood
that hoeing corn’s an "instrumental" Good .
An "instrument" to what? The goal pursued
in farming's nothing more nor less than Food;
and food, like other useful forms of wealth,
enhances and prolongs one's life and health.
So hoeing corn, however onerous
it seems, is ultimately "good" for us.

Now food a "good" and worthy purpose serves,
since life is "good," and that's what food preserves.
But food is also “instrumental” in
such ends as Gluttony--a mortal sin.
The same holds true in asking what we gain
from riches--for the wealthy and the vain.
Few apes would doubt that wealth consists of "goods"
--which are, of course, synonymous with "shoulds,"
as we explained some paragraphs ago.
The rich, however, do deserve to know
what sort of moral swamp they wander in,
for wealth is Vanity--another Sin.

An "instrumental snag" is, Charity
(kind gifts to those possessing less than we)
may just prolong some miserable life
beset with illness, poverty and strife,
for which the kindest thing we could have done
might be to hasten Sweet Oblivion.
Yet putting someone out of misery
conflicts with laws on which we all agree:
that killing fellow tribesmen isn't Right
except in self defense. This shows the plight
well-meaning apes confronted when they had
to make a choice--and every choice was Bad.
One clear (perhaps simplistic) rule to use
is: “Lesser over greater evil choose!"
A saint, confronting some Dilemma's horns,
the short horn chooses and the long one scorns.
The ape who makes the least immoral choice
may in Umblemished Virtue still rejoice.
For instance, if one has to tell a lie
to right some Wrong, this Precept would apply.
To kill is wrong, but if one's life's at stake,
one must a stern and just Decision make,
and virtuously do what must be done:
Defend thyself--Look out for Number One!

Again, it's wrong to steal; but when in need
we few concessions make to misers' greed.
Your need is dire; you know he has enough
and some to spare--he'll never miss the stuff.
But first be sure that Life's Inequities
will be corrected by your thieveries.
If he's not rich, or if your need's not real,
the Precept still applies: It's wrong to steal.
But "wealth" can be subjective. What to me
looks opulent, may seem like "poverty"
to other apes, who used to have much more
and now have less than they possessed before.
It's therefore hard to be completely sure
which victims of your theft are rich or poor.
The same applies to "poverty." Your Need
is self-appraised, and hard to tell from Greed-­
especially by victims of your theft
who always think they worked for What Just Left.

Another pitfall is, it's difficult
to know a well-meant action's End Result.
To pull a drowning tribesman from a well
is hardly wicked; but how can one tell
what later evil he may perpetrate
if "virtuously" rescued from his fate?
To save a scoundrel who's about to drown
might make you Malefactor of the Town.
To saunter off and leave him might have been
to spare the world from some outrageous sin.
We can't predict this, yet we must decide:
It might have hurt your Conscience, had he died.
The merit of your deed is up to Fate,
whose whims we rarely know, until too late.

"Do unto others as you'd have them do
(in similar conditions) unto you!"
This makes good sense. The Golden Rule provides
the moral-minded ape with clear-cut guides,
and strikes the Ethics quandary at the root.

In application, though, it's sometimes moot.
Too much of "what they'd have you do" depends
on other tribesmen's choice of worthy ends,
which may assume some unexpected shapes
within your mind, or those of other apes.
There are some apes we simply cannot trust
to choose amusements for themselves. We must
restrain their movements; and we take alarm
at what they're doing, lest they come to harm.
Small cubs are one example; also those
adults who can't contend with natural foes
and other hazards they’ll encounter while
their bent for reckless rambles they beguile,
by reason of advanced senility
or mental irresponsibility.
Restraining them by force is not "to do
as you would have such people do to you;"
so, as regards incompetents and fools,
we make exceptions to this Best of Rules.
Your beneficiary's perverse taste
may mean your well-meant kindness goes to waste.
Suppose you're fond of some unique repast
which leaves your squeamish dinner guests aghast.
The Golden Rule again is seen to fail
if with third helpings you your friends regale,
which--lest you take offense--they must consume
despite a sense of gastronomic doom.

If you on self-destruction were intent,
my helping hand, however kindly meant,
would be resented. What, then, should you do
if someone else refuses aid from you?
You know he's psychologically deranged
and that his mood, by morning, may have changed.
The Golden Rule, however, states that you
must do to him as you would have him do:
in this case, leave him be. Stand idly by
and watch your suicidal tribesman die.
You know by other apes you'll be condemned,
although your choice from Moral Law has stemmed.

A lot of us would tend to falter here,
forget the Golden Rule, and interfere.

"The Will of God is right; all else is wrong;
so do His Will with testimony strong!"

This follows logically, as well it should,
from our assumption of "Objective Good"-­
that in each act or object we may find
some “value” independent of the mind.
Since all existing things are God's designs,
their Value is whatever He defines.
Not only objects, but each act and thought
is Good or Evil as He may have wrought.
When Moral Laws are legislated by
the Deity, one doesn't wonder why;
one needn't ask Him why He feels that way-­
one simply grins, and rushes to obey.

This value system saves us mental strain,
because (although dilemmas still remain)
we never have to wonder what is Right.
The thinking's done, and put in black and white
by those who are more competent than we
to know what is ordained by Deity.
The pious ape need only sift through loads
of varied, and conflicting, Moral Codes
which rival sects propound; and then decide
by which of these--if any--to abide.

His "testimony" tells him which is best;
and he, with no misgivings, junks the rest-­
then finds he’s universally condemned,
because his Standards from himself have stemmed,
as if he were an irreligious clod
who never heard about the Will of God,
and thinks the Spirit of the Law's confused
with its imperfect wording, and abused.
But, knowing when he's Right, he sets his jaw
and isn't swayed by less-than-Godly law,
until, adhering to his True Belief,
he runs afoul of edicts by our Chief.

The problem of defining "Good" remains
among philosophy's persistent banes.
Despite the brief successes thinkers had
the problem was, itself, completely Bad.

    -- J. P. Gunn
Last edited by THWOTH on Dec 20, 2014 1:49 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: A few poems I like

#37  Postby ricklakin » Dec 19, 2014 10:12 pm

It is a shame that your rules prevent you from accurately indicating the source of material appearing on your site. It would seem to me that that would override the constraints preventing advertising. For the purposes of accuracy, the above chapter comes from The Apes of Eden - The Age of Thinkers by Jon P. Gunn. I am sure that you would want the material on your site to receive proper attribution.
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Re: A few poems I like

#38  Postby kennyc » Dec 19, 2014 10:26 pm

:scratch: :scratch: :scratch:
Kenny A. Chaffin
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"Strive on with Awareness" - Siddhartha Gautama
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Re: A few poems I like

#39  Postby kennyc » Dec 19, 2014 10:27 pm

THWOTH wrote: kennyc @ New comet C/2012 S1 (ISON)

    The Death of C/2012 S1

    From the beginning it was there
    Before the Earth, before the Sun.
    It watched as the planets
    and their ordinary sun coalesced

    Drifting, floating, flying
    along with those of its kind,
    those of the Oort cloud

    Composed of the same
    star-stuff as you and I,
    water, ice, and carbon
    that brought life itself
    to our lonely planet
    turning it blue
    turning it green
    as it basked in the glorious
    light of the sun

    ‘til we humans arrived
    to watch the approach of comet ISON
    perturbed from its ancestral home
    forced by gravity to journey inwards,
    towards and past those planets
    it watched form from its lofty perch
    a thousand times more distant

    Pulled past the giant Jupiter
    threading through the asteroid belt
    passing Mars and Earth, the living one

    Seeking not through a need of its own
    but constrained, pulled, and forced by gravity
    to graze the Sun and to there die
    releasing its constituent parts
    once more to the universe


      Kenny A. Chaffin – 11/29/2013


Thank you! I kinda like that one myself. :lol:
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Re: A few poems I like

#40  Postby kennyc » Dec 19, 2014 10:32 pm

I'm loving what I'm reading from a 'new' discovery of mine, prose poet David Shumate. I discovered him via The Writer's Almanac and a few of his poems are there: http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/a ... th_id=1837 with only a couple of exceptions I've loved everything he's written (three collections that I'm aware of)

Shooting the Horse
by David Shumate

I unlatch the stall door, step inside, and stroke the silky neck
of the old mare like a lover about to leave. I take an ear in
hand, fold it over, and run my fingers across her muzzle. I
coax her head up so I can blow into those nostrils. All part of
the routine we taught each other long ago. I turn a half turn,
pull a pistol from my coat, raise it to that long brow with the
white blaze and place it between her sleepy eyes. I clear my
throat. A sound much louder than it should be. I squeeze the
trigger and the horse's feet fly out from under her as gravity
gives way to a force even more austere, which we have named
mercy.


Welcome Home, Children
by David Shumate

In the early spring I get together with all the people I've been
in my past lives. We sit around the table at my grandfather's
farmhouse—mashed potatoes, creamed peas, cornbread. There's
the Confederate colonel with his mustache and battlefield odor.
The medieval peasant from Portugal with insects in her hair. The
Irish boy who died from the fever at nine. There's the patient wife
of the fishmonger. The petty thief from Cathay who's already
stuffed his pockets with my grandmother's paperweights. My
favorite is the Hindu monk. His orange robes. The sacred paint
across his forehead. He's never reconciled his lust for women and
steals glances at the dancer from Babylon—my first life. Her long
dark hair. The thin veils draped over her shoulders. She loves
to lean across the table for the marmalade, exposing her breasts
for him to see. After dinner she excuses herself and walks into
the garden. He follows. I'm not sure if it's just a natural kind of
thing… One incarnation of mine seducing another…Or an act
so vile even Narcissus would have gagged.
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