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Sunday 10 May 2009

The Immaterial Me

The krantz of human intellect sustains us all;
we stand forever on its crumbling edge and see
fluctuating mirages
that ever come back different from the sea.
Is this illusionary flux what we call thought?
Is thought coerced in me?

On this precipitous reason here I stand
knowing only that I am,
not what I am, or why,
or how I came to land, by whom
the immaterial me was planned,
or how my cells foregathered round their shore.

Did accidental waters wash them in
where the deep oceans of my soul crash to the land,
this envelope of sand where I begin,
to build around the ebb and flow of their dark tides
the coral shore of this restricting skin,
cohabitant and coheir with the sea

of the insubstantial, immaterial me?
My body grows, thinks, feels and is.
What are these strange intangibles? What is
response to stimulus?
But thinks and feels on whose behalf,
and why? The world is its antithesis.

Upon the krantz of intellect I stand
and see the world of men and things beneath
spread like some huge Kriegspiel on the beach.
And then, or so it seems, the tides push in,
and every piece and pawn upon the board
becomes but my reflection in the sea -

ten thousand images and congeners of me!
Because of some interstice in the land
(our language is inadequate) I cannot reach
these images or see what makes each always him
and never me. I understand their strategy, but not
what makes each part, yet not a part, of me,

nor whose hand moves them with such mastery?
From where I stand
the waves distort the images they carry
and pawns seem bent the way the tides are flowing.
I stand forever on this vantage-point and see
fluctuating mirages

that ever come back different from the sea.
The sea heaves up its oily back,
the pieces and the pawns dissolve and break,
are shattered by a wave's caress,
and where the symbols of the indivisible divide
do we reach consciousness?

This is another one I take out periodically, dust off and redraft. It is never right; it still isn't. I can see things that are wrong, particularly in the use of language and too obvious rhymes etc, but correcting them tends to make the poem less satisfactory, not more so. Any observations, suggestions etc would be appreciated.


Rachel Green said...

This will linger with me, I think. Thank you.

Unknown said...

Hi Dave,

Welcome back! Probably, it is the use of what you call "too obvious rhymes" that enables me to read this! I can't pretend to understand all the references but I am sure I will get more and more from it through repeated reading.

Jinksy said...

I think it an exact description of how thoughts have a will of their own - rhyme, or not rhyme, plus repetition with variations. I find it fascinating just the way it is written here.

Karen said...

Welcome back, Dave. Here's my first thought when I began to read: "This is poetry." It has the complexity of thought and the form of rhythm and rhyme that real poetry has. I suppose by that I mean that it has echoes of the Romantic poets. I can think of no higher compliment. Reworked or no, this is one of your best.

findingmywingsinlife said...

This is one of the most beautiful and insightful poems that I've had the priviledge to read from you. I think its one of your best, even if you see flaws- I see loveliness and humanness in it. Very nicely done.

Laura Doyle said...

Because I don't feel rightly qualified to offer any suggestions, I will tell you that, to me, it seemed to take on a life of its own. Something living and breathing and, as is always the case with something independently alive, it is what it is. It shines with depth and it isn't shy. Although you may feel compelled to try and polish it up, I feel it could be complete if you wanted it to be.


Repetition with variations? They are fascinating in your written ,yes is very good one`s.

Helen said...

.. this is not food for thought ~
.. this is feast for thought!

Rosaria Williams said...

Dave, do you see what your poetry does to people? It satisfies them; it speaks of something we all feel.

Would I change it? Perhaps. But, as you well put it, correcting anything changes the flow, changes the intent.

I might try to shorten it. But the, how do you reveal consciousness?

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

There's a lot to dwell upon in this poem, I enjoyed it, and I'll read it again. There is tension, and a longing for answers to nurture other questions, despite the abstractions there's a concreteness in between the lines, and in the word "krantz" which I can't quite take in but I sense it might mean something like "slice". Am I right?
What I sense most of all here is Wallace Stevens lurking.

Dave King said...

LeatherdykeukThanks for the comment, much appreciated.

Derrick Many thanks for th welcome. And maybe being away for a few days has been helpful, for reading it just now the rhyms didn't seem to bother me as they had before.

Jinksy Thoughs having a will of their own... mmmm, that says it precisely, I think. Than ks for yet another helpful comment.

Karen No, I can think of no higher compliment, either. Thank you for that, I am a little overwhelmed by such praise, but I thank you for it.

findingmywingsinlife Thank you so much for a generous comment. As I said to Karen, I am a little overwhelmed. Really.

Starlene I think you are qualified, and again I am very touched by your remarks, Thank you so much for them.

Elaine I am grateful to you for your remaks. Thank you.

Helen A very gratifying comment. Thank you.

lakeviewer I still don't know, but I think we're on the same wavelength.

Tommaso Many thanbks for your comment. I have always taken Krantz (or Krans) to mean a cliff, and that is how I meant it here, but your question led me to research it a little more deeply and it seems it is a sheer rock face (which would do very nicely, thank you) but typically in the form of an exposed band of rock around the summit of a mountain, which will do at a pinch. The thing is I like the word and felt that it goes well with kreigspeil. Maybe I should have explained both words - I posted in a bit of a hurry before going away for a few days. A kriegspiel (which I now notice I spelt incorrectly) is a war game, a variation of chess in which each player has his own board and does not see his opponent's.

Cecile/DreamCreateRepeat said...

I love that this poem compares the mind to the sea (at least that's what i read into it). Both are fascinating to me, and I think it is a moving analogy.

Poetic Artist said...

I am glad your back..Your poetry always make me think and then I had to reread your words. To me which I am no authority, I think it speaks to the heart of us all at some time in our life.

Ronda Laveen said...

The questions of creation, soul and consciousness ring the bell of commonality in all of us. This is a wonderful piece. I can see why you continue to pull it out and hone it again and again.

Linda McGeary said...

Dave, I wanted to post the other day, but my week snowballed on me .
When you worked to memorize the poem "The Idea of Order at Key West", it made me think, what I've read about the spoken word, before there was writing, it was used for teaching, and the form it took was poetry set to a tune or a chant.
Sound and rhyme always make it easier to memorize. For easier remembering I'd pick a well made rhyming poem. In high school speech class I memorized the "Raven" by Poe and even though it's been decades, good size chunks of it are still intact.
Of all the poetry you post, I like yours the best.
You have a clear mind.

Dave King said...

Cecil/DreamCreateRepeat Yes, you are correct with your interpretation, that is the analogy I had intended. I, too, am fascinated by both sea and mind. Thanks for your interest.

Poetic Artist Many thanks for those kind remarks.

Ronda Thanks Ronda. Glad you like it.

Linda Yes, poetry was originally a tool for remembering, and is still a great asset in that regard. I can still recall poems learnt at school - and, yes, they do all have rhyme and most of them have strong rhythms also. Thanks for the compliment.

Bee said...

The first stanza is so wonderful -- just reading that over and over again, and thinking about it, has left me unable to completely absorb the rest of the poem. I'd like to come back to it, though.

I particularly like the idea of the crumbling edge. That seems really true; we add and add to our store of knowledge, and yet our brains are constantly undergoing this unstoppable erosion.

What is a "krantz," please? I looked it up, but couldn't find a definition.

Carl said...

Powerful stuff Dave. You are wrestling with our very nature from within and without, from high and low. Wonderful poem.


Mark Kerstetter said...

Your bringing it out, trying to refine it, and never achieving satisfaction would seem to be a natural part of the process, in that it reflects the truth of the poem. If you were ever to achieve such satisfaction, perhaps you would have to be something more than human, no longer hovering on that crumbling pinnacle.

This is a powerful image, and I wouldn't worry too much about obvious rhymes. Think of them as ropes to throw to fellow travelers on the path.

Conda Douglas said...

I think, Dave, that you are being very hard on yourself about this poem. You've tackled a difficult, complex and esoteric subject here with some great language and images. This is a strong poem as it stands and I agree with Mark, it's impossible, especially with a layered poem such as this, to be satisfied, ever.

Cloudia said...

I could never plumb your depths, Dave!

Dave King said...

Bee Many thanks for the thoughtful comments. I did a bit of research on Krantz after Tomasso asked about it. Until then I had always taken it (or Krans) to mean a cliff, and that is how I meant it here, but it now seems that it is a sheer rock face (which would do very nicely for my purposes, thank you) but typically in the form of an exposed band of rock around the summit of a mountain - which will still do at a pinch, I think. I like the word and feel that it goes well with kreigspeil. Maybe I should have explained both words - I posted in a bit of a hurry before going away for a few days. A kriegspiel is a war game, a variation of chess in which each player has his own board and does not see his opponent's. Thanks again for your helpful comments.

Carl Thanks Carl, much appreciate that.

Mark That sounds like a wise piece of advice. I am going to treasure it. Thanks for it. Perfection is not attainable, of course, and so there is always the problem of knowing when to say it is finished, but I think perhaps it is now. Much obliged.

Conda Yes, I am sure you are right in your last sentence. I am resigned to it being the best that I can do. I am very grateful to you for the input.

Cloudia Was that a pun? I ask myself. Thanks for the visit.

Beth said...

No suggestions - I'm new here and this poem impressed me as is. I love the line, "...the coral shore of this restricting skin..."

(thanks for visiting my blog)

A Cuban In London said...

If you keep mending it, dave, then the 'thought will coerce you'. You have created a mesmerising mesh of images and visions into which the reader walks unaware and like a prey to a spider we get caught up in your web. Since I have not seen the earlier versions you mentioned I would like to keep this one with me for as long as I can. Yes, you're right, it messes around with your head, but then, that's what art's supposed to do. Many thanks for this little jewel.

Greetings from London.

Amritorupa Kanjilal said...

dave, the problem with a poem is- you can't mend it. if it's born that way, its probably going to stay that way.
i find that redrafting a poem makes it less alive. less real. i understand that you dont think your poem is perfect (i loved it by the way) but i think you should accept it with all its flaws. flaws add to its beauty.
the chief thing is, it must not look engineered.

Dave King said...

Beth Welcome and much thanks for visiting.

A Cuban in London The possibility of the thought coercing me is a good point. Thanks for making it. I am somewhat reassured by yours and all the other comments received - and before that, the very fact of publishing a poem greatly focusses the mind, I find - and do begin to feel now that it may be finished.

Little Girl Lost That is yet another excellent point well made. Two excellent points in fact, both of which I should have known from my watercolour attempts. I just had this clingy idea that it didn't apply to poetry because you always still have the earlier versions to which you can retreat. But you - and all the others - are correct, I think. Many thanks.

Andy Sewina said...

I like the board game images of the pieces and the pawns, and the way mortality questions eternity throughout. Also, I can't help thinking (visualising) about the Antony Gormley figures on Crosby Beach, for some reason.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes. I felt on reading this that I was returning to a good friend, in more ways than one. It will never be 'right', but there is much to be admired in one who continues to strive for perfection. Don't go unchanging, Dave. Every poem you capture is a thing of beauty.

Leofina Jane said...

One thing I love about poetry is the natural fusion of art and logical imagination. - this poem is rich in this context. Moreover, the embedded flow of fluidity- makes poetry recreates it self- as the poet explores neverending ways to present it. Simply amazing. :-)