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Sunday 4 September 2011

The Onlooker Sees Nowt.

The cloisters breed a claustrophobia.
Even the moon seems trapped, the shadows
wrap themselves round everything
like army blankets. When the new day dawns
they fall, untidily, upon the floor, or crumple
where they lie, as they have done today.

Today, indeed, morning has dawned in say-so only,
and there are figures in the shadows, furry, fuzzy
figures perambulating aimlessly. They haven't slept,
they have been exercising through the night -
their form of meditation, I suppose - emitting
sounds, low moans or whimpers as they walk.

I wonder what obsessions their minds entertain,
imagine that they play non-verbally
with pictures and with sounds and that
the images relate somehow to these surrounds:
dull, claustrophobic, bleak and out of focus.
And then to each in turn, at moments critical

in ways outsiders cannot guess, there comes
an inner glow, brief herald to a blaze of light,
a blinding flash. He falls as dead.
Only the tourist, the uninitiated notices.
I wonder which man wins the mystic game:
the last man standing or the first to fall.

Inspired by the current image on the Lisa Ricard Caro Blog Writing in the Buff.


The Unknowngnome said...

Maybe the last shall be first and the first shall be last.

This is a beautifully worded piece on cloister life as well as intimating that of a poets.

Thank you for introducing the word nowt.

jabblog said...

This is a telling piece and could be assigned to the religious life or to psychiatric disorders - some might say the two cases are indivisible. The more I read it the more I understand in it.

(Just to clarify, the image on my blog comes from Lisa Ricard Claro at 'Writing in the Buff'.)

Jim Murdoch said...

Just a little puzzled by the title. You say that the onlooker sees nothing and yet in the poem you say, “[o]nly the tourist, the uninitiated notices,” which seems to contradict this.

Dave King said...

The Unknowngnome
Good to have you visiting again.
And very much appreciate your generous remarks.

Yes, I agree with your observations My thanks to you for them. Sorry about the error concerning the image. Shall try to put that right.

The title refers to the fact that the outsider sees and knows nothing of the deeper reality - the nature of what is taking place, just its surface reality.
Only the uninitiated notices that a man has fallen because that is all he sees. The initiate does not notice what the outsider sees because he is focussed on higher (or deeper!) things.

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Hi Dave - Thanks for your nice comments on my blog. I appreciate you taking the time to correct your unintended error. No worries. :) The photo was taken by my son's girlfriend who spent three weeks in Italy this past summer. I'm not sure exactly where in Italy the photo was taken, but I thought it inspirational for those of us inclined to find our creative spirits touched by such things. Your wonderful poem is proof of it.

Mary said...

Your words give quite a picture of the cloistered life.. I just can't imagine what it would be like; and I would guess that their minds would have various obsessions to toy with outside of meditation. They'd have to, I'd assume, to stay sane.

Carl said...

Wonderful description. I got lost in the words and the layers of context.

Windsmoke. said...

The first stanza said it all for me :-).

Dave King said...

Hi, how good to have you visiting! Thanks for the comment and the info' re the image. Yes, a fabulous image. I was immediately struck by it - to the extent that I failed to read the inf correctly.
Apologies again for the slip. I enjoyed my visit to your blog and you have visited mine, so good has come from it.

Yes, I think you must be right, though that's an aspect one doesn't hear raised very often. Maybe there's some mileage to be made there!

Generous response as ever. Thanks Carl. Much appreciated.

Thanks. The first stanza was the first written, which is not always the case. The first written, though, often proves to be my favourite.

Unknown said...

Wow, this is deep...and all from an image on a blog? I had to read it a couple of times to get the full impact. I like the way you end your poems, very witty and opening whole new avenues of thought when the piece is done.