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Friday 19 August 2011

Metaphysics aint for Kids!

For the inspiration for this poem I am indebted to dVerse ~ Poets' Pub. The prompt contained a poem by Billy Collins entitled "Lanyard", which reminded me of this incident from my childhood:-

A conch shell
found on the Cliftonville sands.
How did it get there?
Not brought by the tide...
too exotic for that!

Beautiful markings
in six shades of brown
plus ginger and cream.
More lovely by far -
I was sure beyond doubt -
than ornaments,
jewels or knick knacks at home.

So I had this idea -
a brilliant wheeze:
converting my treasure
to something of USE.
A practical thing,
of magnified worth.
But try as I would,
nothing came of my thought.

Could beauty,
I pondered,
be useless as that?
I'd have to rethink
my whole metaphysics.


Brian Miller said...

nice...love how your story seemingly about one thing, opens wide in your close....love it when 'this is really about that'

Mary said...

You made me think about the value of both the 'useful' and the 'beautiful' in life, Dave! Also, as I think about it, there are some people who are drawn mostly to the 'useful' and some people to the 'beautifulo.'

Claudia said...

wow david - this starts so small and i like that you use your own personal voice to describe something "real" to then stretching it beyond the horizon in the last two lines...awesome

The Weaver of Grass said...

Surely you could hear the tropical sea when you put it to your ear, Dave?

Jim Murdoch said...

Like the content very much but not sure about the form. A tad too prosaic for me. I’ve read it through several times but it doesn’t feel like poetry. I’ve just finished a long two-parter about beauty in poetry and the question I’ve been asking is whether or not poetry can be ugly. There was a great deal of material but it threw up a few side issues and one of these was the place of prose in poetry. I had never really considered this before. I always regarded prose and poetry as, if not so much opposites, alternatives but I’m not sure we can make such a distinction these days.

Sheila said...

I like this just how it is. The too exotic to be brough in by the tide line is great.

Arron Shilling said...

A great read and a poem that provokes after thought and reflection.

Heavy subjects made light enough to experience poetically - without the drudge. Clean lines and intresting conceptual progression and development - from conch to metaphysic -It felt like a shell like funnel - you thread the eye thru the tunnel to the confusion.

Beauty cant be useless/useful though as i t doesnt even exist
in the real - does that make it useless? You made me think - THATS IMPRESSIVE!

Enjoyed your poem Dave

Thanks Arron

Anonymous said...

Lovely piece... was walking of the beach with you. Anne Lindbergh would have liked to sit down and talk with you about shells. Maybe her husband spent too much time in the air!

Victoria said...

Beauty for its own sake...hard for some to imagine. And then there are artists and poets!

Carys said...

This captivated me from start to finish. Wonderful melodic quality to it, enhanced by a smooth rhythm. Conch is a fab word isn't it! My one suggestion here would be to cut the last stanza completely as I think it's over-stating the point. Finishing the piece on 'nothing came of my thought' would leave some 'wiggle room' for your reader to figure it out for themselves, particularly as you have 'metaphysics' in the title.

Delightful read which made me stop a while and ponder, I love it when a poem does that.

Mark said...

Groovy:) Metaphysics and a conch, sounds all good to me!

Tabor said...

I do like this one. I can get my feeble mind around it and I love the metaphysical question at the end. It seems we always want to make something useful out of the beautiful to try and hang on to it a little longer.

Louise said...

Hmm - useful things are often beautiful, but beautiful things can be just that to the observer I guess.

Windsmoke. said...

Very enjoyable indeed :-).

Scarlet said...

I like the realization at the end, that beautiful things may not be useful, but they move the soul just as much.

Wonderful use of the conch shell for this insight.

maekitso said...

The practical voice in my head piped up and pointed out to me that the conch would make for a decent wind instrument, but then I struggled with trying to figure out whether the sound would count as useful. Perhaps it would depend on whether the sound was being used for recreational purposes or instead to do some kind of real work such as call the family to the dinner table! Hmmm... there's a lot to contemplate here Dave. Nice one.

Dave King said...

Thanks Brian. It's what I always try for - not always successfully.

That's true, but at that young age I can remember thinking that something so beautiful just HAD to have a practical purpose!

Thanks for a really gratifying comment. It is much appreciated.

The Weaver of Grass
I could indeed, but that was not included among my "useful" criteria!

You may have put your finger on a point or two here. I have had the shell in mind as a future poem for a long time now, but not been able to find a way into it. I came across the prompt and immediately thought that might be what I'd been looking for. It was almost on the deadline, though. (I have been using these prompts and their deadlines as a spur to getting stuff down with less hesitation, and do feel that on the whole the quality has improved from not being overworked, but this may have been a draft too few. In a sense it is a first draft - which doesn't mean, necessarily, that I can improve it.) Whatever, I just wrote it and posted it. Simply that - which also explains why I posted it having already posted that day. Not something I have ever done before.

The question of prose and poetry is a fascinating one. I shall look forward to reading your two parter. RE the question of ugliness, I suppose I could reply off the top of my head: if it's ugly, it's not poetry! But I always remember having an agument with my first boss about beauty - can't recall th exact theme of the discussion- and saying something like: "but it's a beautiful flower". To which he replied, "Have you ever seen an ugly flower?"

Edward Thomas spent most of his life frustrated, writing prose, reviews etc, when he really wanted to write poetry - until Frost pointed out that he was writing poetry as good as any that what being written, if only he would write it out in a poetry format.

Hi, welcome to my blog and very many thanks for the comment. So glad you liked the poem and were willing to tell.

Welcome. Many thanks for your visit and for your interesting - and useful - critique. I like your shell-like funnel. I guess I was about 11 at the time of finding the shell, and I had this absolute conviction that beauty and utility went together, were indivisible!

A warm welcome to you. Good to have you visiting and very good to read your comments. Thank you so much for your generous and lovely thoughts.

Aye, is that the rub, I wonder! Do we placve too much emphasis on beauty? Is that why poetry does not change the world?

Hi and a warm welcome to my blog. An intiguing critique, for which I thank you sincerely. I take your point about the last stanza. Going back to my reply to Jim, when I read the prompt and thought of the conch shell, it was the last verse (its thrust, not the actual words) which came into my mind as answering the requirements of the task. However, that does not imply that the last stanza could not be dropped without loss. I shall certainly give it some thought.

Thanks foryour visit and for the remark.

Yes, absolutely. There are a lot of questions bound up in that, I think.

120 Socks
Yes, that seems to be the way of things, though I am tempted to make a plea for utility along the lines of how beauty can stimulate the mind.

Thanks. Much obliged.

Thanks very much for the confirmation. I was not at all sure of this when I posted it.

Thanks for that. You open up a new avenue with that comment. The old mind is of again - which could be said to be useful!

Crafty Green Poet said...

interesting meditation on beauty and use, of course the shell is useful to the animal it belongs to, as well as being beautiful to us.

Dave King said...

Crafty Green Poet
Good point. Thanks for the contribution.

vivinfrance said...

Your poem is exactly that: a real poem, about real thoughts which makes the reader think. That makes it beautiful AND a poem. The fact that it was a first draft was not evident on first reading - in fact the spontanaiety maybe what makes it resonate so well with me.

Dave King said...

This is such a great response to have. Thank you so much for it. As I mentioned to Jim, above, I have been hoping that the deadlines involved in responding to prompts would achieve just that: a spontanaiety. They have certainly mademe more prolific. The trick, I suppose, is to find the happy medium. Thanks again.

kaykuala said...

As often the case a seaside find can conjure a whole lot of stories related to it. It can well fill the large expanse of imaginations without much conclusions. Well written!

Dave King said...

All very true. Thanks for the response.

The Unknowngnome said...

Love the closing stanzas.