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Wednesday, 7 December 2011

the barely human

(The image represents the Magpie Tales prompt for this week.)

It's the sameness of the scene that most offends,
the chagrin of these units that were men,
the tedium of copies cast in monochrome
as if a ruler had an army baked in clay
(of drudges, skivvies, menials and slaves,
the lowly ones of this sort and of that)
who now await the pleasure of his death
in the claustrophobic confines of his tomb.

That would be bad enough, but this is worse:
they are not subjects of some distant potentate
who thinks in terms of citizens as things
but members of a race that trumpets freedom,
the individual, the grace with which man's born.

They make no sound, beyond the chomping
of their simple fare; they do not laugh;
they dare not look to see themselves in others,
are too downtrodden to communicate,
are barely human. Cattle. They await their fate.

24 comments:

jane.healy said...

When I first looked at it I thought of the Chinese Warrior tombs or perhaps the factory drones from awful scene in soemthing like 1984?

I liked it though and am enjoying all the responses.

kaykuala said...

Dave,
You got the mood correct. It was of a human dead. Narry looking up to others nor talking and squeezed between pillars. Morbid to say the least, just chomping with what looked like biscuits. Excellent write!

Hank

Templeton's fury said...

the language of this takes on a musical sound. I really like!

manicddaily said...

Such an interesting comparison to the Chinese clay warriors. A cultural phenomenon perhaps, that you describe well.

haricot said...

It's horrible... but at least individual could be individual when one thinks by oneself.

Mary said...

You really have captured the feeling of that picture, Dave. It does give me a "1984" feeling or maybe the "Stepford Wives" feeling in the sameness of it all. People going about their lives robotically with no expressions on their faces, no interaction with one another: creepy stuff.

Tabor said...

Yes. You have truly captured the truth and emotion of this painting. You have a good eye and translate so well.

Laurie Kolp said...

Dave- Very moving... great ending!

The Weaver of Grass said...

How interesting Dave - I too thought I was reading about the Chinese warriors. Quite depressing really but you have captured the mood.

anthonynorth said...

Perfectly interpreted.

Helen said...

A+ Dave ...

Brian Miller said...

cattle...until they one day are served on the plate themselves...great capture man...

Ann Grenier said...

I like your descriptions Dave: "an army baked in clay". The artist certainly thought so in conceiving and executing this painting. Cookie cutter replicas baked two inches apart per directions.

Anonymous said...

Terribly at target. Like the

"grey man sane
no color no name"

of the Jefferson Airplane in the late sixties and Herbert Marcuse's books on the one-dimension man in those same glorious years...

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Sorry David, I am Tommaso in the previous comment, the blog system is creating problems with my name.

Windsmoke. said...

When i started reading the first stanza i thought of robots because some work places treat you like one especially in a factory situation :-).

Ygraine said...

My greatest fear
is that I should disappear
into this picture!

I like this poem a lot :)

Gerry Snape said...

1984 came to my mind also...the greyness of it all. Wonderful imagery and a brilliant rhythm to it all.

sunny said...

good one

Brad said...

The man at bottom right looks to me
to have turned away from what the others see
of themselves reflected in a mirror
eating with their elbows on the table
and their heads down.

Dave King said...

jane
Thanks. Yes, my first thought was the Gulag.

kaykuala
A very deoressing pic, but full of potential for a write.

Templeton's fury
Hi, A warm welcome to my blog and my thanks for your comment. Much appreciated.

manicddaily
Thanks. As I thought about the image the clay warriors becake the dominant comparison.

haricot
Good point. Yes, that's so - as long as s/he still had the mental reserves.

Mary
Thanks Mary. Yes, I agree. Creept stuff indeed.

Tabor
Thank you very much for those kind words.

Laurie
Thank you. I'm especially pleased you liked the ending.

The Weaver of Grass
Interesting that so many thought along similar lines. Thank you.

anthonynorth
Thanks

Helen
Coo! Ages since I've had one of them! Thanks.

Brian
Thanks Brian. Good to know you thought so.

Ann
Cookie cutter replicas is a good analogy. I like it a lot. Thanks for passing on your thinking.

Anonymous
Sounds fascinating, I must look them up.

Tommaso
Ouch, it finds a different way to screw up every day, it seems.

Windsmoke
Yes indeed they do. I still have a feeling this pic might have been of one of them.

Ygraine
Hi, a warm welcome to you and my thanks forcommenting. I understand the fear, which is perfectly expressed. Thank you.

Gerry
Agreed. Very 1984-ish! Thanks.

sunny
Thanks.

Brad
Hi, good to have your comment. Yes, I see what you mean.

Isabel Doyle said...

grim mood reflected in your grim words perfectly

Tess Kincaid said...

Powerful write, Dave. My favorite part? The title.

raven said...

This is lyrical ... yet not a pleasant tune (because of the prompt. because in this prompt they SERVE the worst that capitalism has to offer, capitalism gone awry.