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Monday, 5 November 2012

Choice and no choice

Too late to make a start,
to write my life the way it might have been,
like a poetic form grown line by line,
each line composed
of four or five well chosen words,
each line exact,
weighed in a careful balance,
balanced to a nicety...
A common fret?
No, more than that. The awful thing:
that this is always so,
a much for the young boy
as this old man.

No time to drive a rhythm through,
empowering life
to something more than prose.
That chance was gone
before you held a pen.

Not easy to determine
(as you yourself will know)
the sequence that the words should take...
Harder for the boy,
he cannot know
best order changes constantly,
that we
are all collateral casualties
of some world/universal order
that changes as we go
but can't be changed.

Not so:
collateral wounds do not exist;
all wounds are core, the end 
and very essence of a war.
The deaths,the man/the boy 
were choices someone made,
choices someone weighed,
thought justified.

The sculptor doesn't choose. He waits
until an idea comes to him, one that says
this XXX will fit your marble block
exactly sir. It's there
and waiting to get out.

Free choice a human right.
No one's pleading that he's
 Just obeying orders, not these days,
they're simply doing the wrong thing:
the philistine who helps to shape our country,
the rogue who goes to make our laws,
the shaman who with magic stone 
will keeps himself in power,
the leaders who start wars.

It's far too late for choice; it always was.
You have your block of stone.
............................................
I am linking this to Poet's Pantry at Poets United and to the Poetry Jam prompt Choice

19 comments:

Bijaylaxmi said...

he cannot know
best order changes constantly,
that we
are all collateral casualties
of some world/universal order
that changes as we go
but can't be changed.

So true sir. I admire the philosophies in your poetic words...

The Elephant's Child said...

Brilliant - and I really enjoyed your rebuttal of the nonsense of collateral damage.

kaykuala said...

It's far too late for choice; it always was. You have your block of stone.

It's a tragedy of modern times. Someone determines our choices. We're burdened with just holding the baby, cold hard stones (whatever they are!)
Nicely Dave!

Hank

Mary said...

So true that we can't write our life the way it might have been.....or the history of the world as it might have been. We have only to write what IS.

I wonder about that sculptor though, Dave. Of many things he could make from that block, he chooses one thing that will fit. Perhaps politicians/ statesmen (whatever they are) attempt the same thing from the 'block' they are handed. They choose what they think will fit and TRY to sculpt it, though it seems in recent times anyway they fail.......

Sabio Lantz said...

Too bad you don't have a philosophy blog. I'd love to hear this put out clearly in prose. It seems to beg for prose. I could respond better, when I am clear on what you are saying. It sounds interesting, but I don't want to guess.

Ah, prose -- far under rated among many poets.

:-)

Brian Miller said...

intersting...i wonder at what point it becomes too late for choice...unless of course the time is passed....we make the best we can in the moment...though sometimes i think we need to take that pause as the sculptor and wait for it to come to us...

SaraV said...

Hi Dave! This is quite a provocative poem, a lot of ground covered, and well written too. I liked the way you chose to sum it up. So many ways to carve that marble :-)

Helen said...

Dave, this is a complex poem with a great message ... though my grandson is only sixteen, I am printing it for him to read ... I believe he will get it!

Panchali said...

Truly enjoyed the way you have composed the poem especially with regard to the order that brings changes as we go by...
A poignant piece, Dave.

Daydreamertoo said...

Phew... we all think we make our own choices in life but do we, really.
Such an in-depth look at how we do what we think we decide for ourselves and yet, someone always higher up the tree looking down to see we do it properly, their way.
You have your block of stone... the ultimate, so final. Phew.

Kim Nelson said...

Your mixing of imagery is fascinating and poignant, David. War and art. Destruction and creation. Thoughtful and thought-provoking.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

This is one of your best. I feel very close to it. Yes, it's always too late as at the end, dramatically is pointed out in "Not Waving But Drowning".

There are echoes of Four Quartets in the philosophy and tone of your poem and also of Auden from "Horae Canonicae", the section entitled "Nones".

Carl said...

Brilliant and very true. Time slips by while we are figuring out how to live our life and come up with our grand scheme.

Jack said...

It was mentioned above, and, I agree that "provocative" is a great word to describe this. The range of comparison was perfect, and everything was hauntingly relevant.

Cloudia said...

*Gulp*



Aloha from Waikiki, Pal
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haricot said...

"The sculptor doesn't choose. He waits
until an idea comes to him,..."I love this line. And I think of our lives under someone's choice,,,so terrified by the thinking,,,

Dave King said...

Thanks to all for a fascinating bunch of replies. So many of you, commenting on the underlying philosophy, picked up on the sculptor and his block of stone. Waiting for an idea to strike - or should he be more proactive? Maybe many ideas will strike and he chooses from them? Maybe it's a false antithesis... I was pleased to find some support for there being no such thing as collateral damage. It is so much referred to these days. The other issue raised was "When is it too late to choose?" My thought was: from the beginning, but I realise that that is a hard bed to lie on.

Dave King said...

Forgetful as ever, I neglected to utter a special word of greetng and appreciation to Bijaylaxmi, SaraV and Jack. My apologies and a warm welcome to you.

A Cuban In London said...

"Not so:
collateral wounds do not exist;
all wounds are core, the end
and very essence of a war.
The deaths,the man/the boy
were choices someone made,
choices someone weighed,
thought justified."

I wish I could get Parliament to put a plaque bearing these words inside Westminster. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.