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Friday, 16 January 2009

from the poet and the word.

From the Poet


How can I
put truth upon the page
in ways
that will not lie
when others
who will read it
read it in their other ways?

I am conscious
that the sun and moon
look down to see
the words I cast,
to ascertain if
those words cast
a shadow down the page.

They should not worry,
knowing that I use
words two-
dimensional,
not being skilled
to write in three.
(2-D is shadowless, i'm told.)

But does a shadow's absence
equal truth? - Sun's truth
or the moon's?
Truth of day and night?
And when I have more skill,
shall I then write
with less fidelity?

My words
are open to the night,
were written in the day
and by its light;
can be construed,
therefore,
in either way.


From the Word

We find it difficult, these days.
There was a time when words like us
would know their given roles in life,
know their responsibilities,
what was expected - and demanded -
in a sentence or a phrase;
We knew exactly what we meant
(or meant to bring about)
and how we should behave.
I, for example, being I,
would know my place and place
myself befittingly
amongst my colleagues,
proud to represent
the author or the speaker to
the best of my ability.
It's true we've always morphed a bit -
I've done my share (we always called
it repositioning) across
the years. I've been a suffix, too,
and once or twice
a chemical abbreviation. Once I played
the part of a connective vowel.
A bit of fun, that's all. No one
got hurt. It's different now. Someone
the other day was saying how
we morph each time we go on duty.
Can you believe it? Reckons
he's postmodern (Like
that makes it right! Some hopes!),
reckons I could be a verb -
I ask you! Let them go
and I their egos!
- that was his
example, but what sort of talk
is that? And then we get
those darned compilers
of some dictionary, laying off a load
of my old workmates. Blokes
and girls I've known and
worked with over years. Good
folk, the lot of them:
you'll know them well enough,
but out they went like so much junk: monk,
followed by some flower names, bishop,
aisle and empire, carol, monarch...
all
for what? To let in some new tease
they've found around the web! Upstarts,
no more, like: broadband, google,
blog...
whatever makes the Oxford
Junior
seem sexy, I suppose.
Bah, Humbug to their sexy! Give
me back my frumpish friends! I'll take
them over Google any day!

33 comments:

Shadow said...

it's all about perceptions, isn't it. seems to be theme in blogland this week. i say, i see, i write one thing, another takes offence, sees something completely difference or doesn't get the message.... perceptions....

The Weaver of Grass said...

Brilliant stuff Dave - do so agree.
Did you see where Stephen Fry was arguing for nouns to be made into verbs? He argued that Shakespeare did it all the time and that it keeps the English language fresh and new. OK - so we are used to a motion being tabled and a meeting being chaired but where will it all end I ask? When we have coffeed and caked I shall be carred into town. Where will it all end? Perhaps you can write another good poem about it all!

watermaid said...

I say blame our old enemies, the French - Saussure, Derrida, Barthes et al - for post-modern uncertainty. I favour Wittgenstein's adage that the meaning of a word is in its use. I have no problem with the same word being both a noun and a verb.

Loved the way you ended, it made me laugh, but for me the organic nature of language is part of its fascination. Words can only be defined by using other words so I find it wonderful that we can communicate at all.

Derrick said...

Hi Dave,

Of the two pieces, I really enjoyed reading 'From the Poet', your use of words and the images they conjured for me.

GutsyWriter said...

Beautifully written. Everything changes. I can't keep up with the fast pace of the younger generations.

Barry said...

Amen!

You go get 'em Dave!

Chuck Pefley said...

Nicely crafted. Style and"frumpish friends" change and though we long for the good old days I think it's exciting to embrace new and now. We all are works in progress and still fodder for the editor's pencil -:)

findingmywingsinlife said...

Dave, I liked the "From the Poet", it reminded me of a phrase from a favorite song of mine by Anna Nalick. She says, "2am and I'm still awake writing a song and I feel like these words are my diary screaming out loud and I know that you'll use them however you want to. But you can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable and life's like an hour glass glued to the table, no one can find the rewind button boys, so sing it if you understand...and breathe, just breathe"

Drive thru said...

Dave,

I agree that "From the Poet" is an amazing one. I like the phrase " But does a shadow's absence equal truth?"
It's so thoughtful.

From the word is good as well but with different approach.

Thanks for your visit to my blog. I do not publish all my poetry and quotes on my blog as I like to get them published first.

Linda Sue said...

I SO want to be your frumpish friend. Again your poetry, "From The Poet" has sent me into a "don't talk to me" coma...I am not answering the phone, allowing this wonderful poem to have it's way with me.

Jasko said...

The first poem really struck me. In it, you have achieved what I like in poetry – to say so much with seemingly very few words. A true one, indeed.

SUSAN SONNEN said...

You always get me to thinking. From the Poet really struck me this time. What fabulous questions!

Adrian LaRoque said...

Greetings Dave, great poems and images, a nice blog to read and enjoy, congratulations.

Cloudia said...

I too love my frumpish friends, Dave! Aloha-

Lyn said...

From the Poet...it's so smart.

I say, put the words down... if you build it, the writing, they will come..their voices, accents, inflections will make the words theirs. That's why we do it.
So be it.

Thank you.

Jim Murdoch said...

Yes, I like this. The nature of meaning has really gotten under your skin hasn't it? What struck me about the piece was the tone. The poet is serious but the word is flippant; each section has its own voice. Good.

Dave King said...

Shadow
It is about perception, yes, but it's perception bound up with, if you like, the almost independent life of words, how they change their meaning from context to context or over time.

Weaver of Grass
No, I'm afraid I didn't see the Fry thing. Wish I had, sounds fascinating. I quite like the idea of being coffeed and caked. Conjures up all sorts of pictures - probably not the ones intended. Yes, it might be fun to write a poem along those lines!

Watermaid
Agreed: the meaning of a word is in its use - and, as you so rightly say, in the context of other words. No problem with that.

Derrick
Thanks for that. I think it is probably the one I will end up favouring - though it's too early to say for sure.

Gutsy Writer
Much thanks for the kind words. Me neither.

Barry
I shall certainly try, but they're as slippery as eels!

Chuck
Welcome and thanks. I very much enjoyed your last sentence particularly. Very true.

Findingmywayinlife
Welcome and many thanks for the quote. I find it breathtaking. Quite exhilarating. I don't know the song, I'm sorry to have to admit, but I shall certainly look it up.

Drive thru
Welcome and thanks for the comments, the comment is always helpful. I very much enjoyed my visit to your blog.

Linda
My friend? Byall means! My frumpish friend? Judging by your photo': impossible! I am much moved by the kind words, and much enjoyed my visit to your blog.

Jasko
Welcome to my blog and many thanks for those generous words.

Susan
Thanks Susan.

Adrian
Welcome to the blog and many thanks for stopping by to comment. Also for the complimentary remarks.

Cloudia
Thanks once again Cloudia.

Lyn
Mmmm, like it! A lot of truth there. But will they stay the way I put them down? Thanks.

Jim
Thanks for that Jim. Yes, you are right, the meaning thing has really struck home. I'm finding phrases appearing in that connection when I have no thoughts of looking for them. You were correct to pick out the serious/flippant contrast, too. That was quite deliberate and was intended from the beginning.

Dominic Rivron said...

Interesting:

They should not worry,
knowing that I use
words two-
dimensional,
not being skilled
to write in three.
(2-D is shadowless, i'm told.)

As a musician, I've always been interested in the musical equivalent of this. It has fascinated composers from Gabrieli to Stockhausen: music happens in time, but could one add another dimension to it? Both these composers (among others) wrote pieces in which where the sound was coming from was important. Stockhausen even created spaces with multiple speakers so that the sound could come from any direction. I suppose the literary equivalent is to use hypertext to allow the reader to "move sideways" in the text, instead of always going forward.

The shadowlessness is an interesting thought!

Jeanne said...

I've always figured I write in two dimentions and the third is brought by the reader. What I've never been able to ascertain is to what degree does my skill or lack of it have on the size of the shadow that gets cast....

Dave King said...

Dominic
Interesting, the musical analogy. Maybe Einstein's analogy - as we might view it, for the sake of our purposes - of time being the fourth dimension to space's three could be pushed a little further somehow? Thanks for an intriguing thought.

Jeanne
Another fascinating thought - in fact, two for the price of one. I suppose it depends on the nature of the shadow: is it a desired outcome or not?

Dick said...

I love the combination of the elevated and the demotic here, Dave. Right on target with both, as ever.

Noelle said...

hey I thought of Anna Nalick's song too!! I always find that when I write, all of my readers find different meanings in it and that's actually pretty cool...all in the eye of the beholder, I suppose. Although, sometimes I want people to understand my words completely. Great work DAve.

amanda said...

enjoyed these, thanks!

CLAY said...

"How can I
put truth upon the page
in ways
that will not lie
when others
who will read it
read it in their other ways?"
Masterful Mr. King. I salute you.

-Clayrn Darrow

Elizabeth said...

These were both wonderful.
And mellifluous.
I like frumpy -also 'mogging' -as my grandmother used to say referring to comfortable and old (shoes in particular).
Since I have lived in America for 30 years but was brought up in Essex what a mental mess my language skills are.
For some reaon misuse of some words jars more than other.
Why should one object to someone being 'gifted with a present'?(except I do).

The other day I had to look up 'CADGE" in the dictionary to prove to my American husband it existed and I hadn't made it up.
Is 'seldom' vanishing? and 'assuage'?
I could go on whilst I'm sure you have other, better things to do.
However, loved your poems which offered much food for thought.
ps 'whilst' looked upon here as pretentious and antique!

Dave King said...

Dick
I hadn't thought of it that way, but, yes, thanks for that.

Noelle
Yes, I knw what you men. It's good to know there's more to it than you'd realised, but good, too, to now that you've got your thoughts across.

Amanda
Thanks and welcome.

Clay
Thanks for those kind words.

Elizabeth
Far from having better things to do, I find those comments fascinating and would have loved more of them.
I haven't heard cadgeused for a long time, but it is still in the dictionary, as are all the other words you mention. Gifyed I have not heard used as a verb in the way your example uses it, but it is used in sport: a defender who made a mistake might be said to have gifted the opposition a goal.
Many thanks for your visit and comments.

Lucas said...

I enjoyed both these poems that bounce off each other, being different. After a second reading I am very struck with how "From the Word" is so beautifully controlled as a sustained play on words. The idea of fellow feeling, between hard-worked words, works especially well.

Every Photo Tells A Story said...

"My words are open to the night"

Beautiful, Dave!

SweetTalkingGuy said...

Hi Dave, I love the way you wrote this. Fleshing the word out with a voice - Amazing!

Roxana said...

wonderful! I especially enjoyed the first one, this line is brilliant:
But does a shadow's absence
equal truth?

Laura Jayne said...

I have read the first poem three times now... it is wonderful.

mansuetude said...

fascinating!
Love the idea of "fidelity" and all the music it implies.

A spiritual teacher once said to us, you can't help casting shadows while you are in time. What can you do?

All of humanity has had writers asking these same things, and here is our delight, i think.

Words, i think they should be allowed to stretch and shift, as we do. They are alive.

Dave King said...

Lucas
Many thanks for those comments. Much appreciated.

Every Photo Tells A Story
Thanks

Sweet Talking Guy
Thanks for that.

Roxana
Thanks for the contribution.

Laura Jayne
Welcome to my blog and many thanks for the kind word.

Mansuetude
Couldn't agree more - on all points. Thanks.