Archives for posts with tag: searching for life’s meaning
An illustration of a prawn salad from from Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1907. Courtesy of the Old Design Shop., a vintage image treasury.

An illustration of a prawn salad from from Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1907. Courtesy of the Old Design Shop, a vintage image treasury.

Today I present two poems from the archive –

Now here is something to marvel at… (posted in 2012)
and
Is it worth it? (posted in 2013)

Both poems tackle the theme of worldly aspirations and success. In “Now here…” the concerns of juggling a shoestring budget are interrupted by observations of life’s ordinary marvels and man’s urban success (the Gherkin).

Is it worth it?” uses the image of a well-kept lawn as the metaphor for reigned-in success. Grass is that something else that reaches from the earth and applauds the expansive blue of sky. It exists as a blade of grass merely being for being’s own sake. When the grass has once again reached an unruly height, the lawnmower returns to cut it down.

I explain in the 2013 post that “Is it worth it?” was a based on an earlier short poem I thought I had mislaid. That poem, about prawns and trekking up a London hill, later reappeared.

Success, achievement and priorities have also featured in these poems

Highest Priority
How do you make a dream come true?
A definition, notably for the cloud-dwelling artists
The Character Building
926 breathless accomplishments


Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

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This illustration is a page from the antique school lesson book Our Little Book for Little Folks (1896). Thank you to the Old Design Shop for the image,

This illustration is a page from the antique school lesson book Our Little Book for Little Folks (1896). Thank you to the Old Design Shop for the image.

Happiness enlightenment nirvana
I’ve seen their stories:

The man who claimed nirvana
killed himself.
The minds that squared off an enlightenment
unleashed atomic force, science and revolution.
Happiness glossed itself up
as lazy-kissed eternities on a sunny beach.

I’ve watched people attain their
Happiness Enlightenment Nirvana.
It’s all bananas.


Recently, once again, I was party to one of those “What do you seek/ believe?” conversations. (Previously I was asked as much under scaffolding near Liverpool Street Station.) I don’t know what this says about me, or the sorts of people to whom I seem to gravitate.

I still believe there’s a great deal of wisdom to be found in trees. Trees are incredible.


Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

What do you believe?
I believe	
	to see truth lived quietly and consistently 
	is powerful. My father died like that.
In trees we find tall truths
	deeper rooted than human folly.
I believe in stakes
	that make us choose a path
right, or left or denial.
	Denial comes back to 
	haunt us in choice, again.
I believe in money and class
and opportunity because we pretend
these things don’t matter.
	I must be Marxist. In part they do.
At sunrise, I believe in God.
Under stars, I breathe an awesome Universe.
In front of a computer’s glare, as I click the news,
	I believe there is no benevolence, no God.
What you sow, you reap. I like this as a concept.
Also Qi.
In the end, I believe I’m just little me.

9/12/12


A friend posed the question – and of course, I couldn’t resist fiddling some thoughts into poem.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness 

Grass grows to an unruly height.

It makes the lawn untidy.

Restore order, with its low rumble.

First it breaks a Saturday lie-in.

It leaves clippings to be swept up.

Give it a few weeks,

once more green blades will jiggle

their blue, sun applause.

Over a year ago I was asked for my advice on something. The question posed was, “Is it worth it?” At the time I wrote a poem about walking up a hill and eating prawns, but those four lines are lost amongst my usually well filed, carefully dated papers.  I’ve pondered the question occasionally since and recently find it much on my mind. Here then is a freshly cut poem on the theme.

Preview more of my poems in Shining in Brightness, my first book.

You can also add Shining in Brightness as a book on your Facebook profile. Please do so!

My second book, Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys, has received preliminary readings from a few discerning modern boys and some modern girls. Their commentary appears favourable. One reader notes of the poems, “I liked the ones I read.” Another notes, “Emily is kind. Emily is patient… Emily asks for us to pay attention for a short while.” This second volume is due out by the end of this month.

I also tweet as @BeadedQuill. I’d be delighted if you would follow me.

Success is speaking to the people who matter,
In networking when due. Waste no time on a satyr.
Success is doing what you should
for Work, for Security, for Good.

It’s silence when your speech would rattle,
And indifference to a pointless battle.
Success is deafness to all that’s ugly,
But sympathy if your deed’s seen widely.

It’s loyalty as the price dictates; 
Courage when others might judge, “Flake.” 
It’s patience when the drudge seems worth it,
But for laughter, song or frivolity – surfeit.

Success is found in application, 
financial stability and securing one’s station.
In all of life and nothing less
Is this almighty guidepost that’s called Success.

--

Sometime between the ages of eight and ten, when I had already learnt to read and was in the habit of memorising written material (mostly bible verses for Sunday School and gedigte (poems) for Afrikaans lessons), my paternal Granny gave me a palm-sized laminated card. On the card was printed the motivational poem “Success.” In sing-song iambic quadrameter and neat AA, BB, CC end rhyme the poem sets forth fourteen guidelines that should assist one in living the worthy life. My earnest pre-adolescent self set about memorising these words of wisdom.
In trying to write out the poem, I was certain I had forgotten part of it. So I turned to Google, and found the full piece.

Success
author unknown

Success is speaking words of praise,
In cheering other people’s ways.
In doing just the best you can,
With every task and every plan.
It’s silence when your speech would hurt,

Politeness when your neighbour’s curt.
It’s deafness when the scandal flows,

And sympathy with others’ woes.
It’s loyalty when duty calls,
It’s courage when disaster falls.
It’s patience when the hours are long,

It’s found in laughter and in song.
It’s in the silent time of prayer,

In happiness and in despair.
In all of life and nothing less,
We find the thing we call success

Interestingly, it is the verse about loyalty, courage and patience and the third to last line that I had not recalled. This was my reconstruction of what I thought to be my favourite part of the verse: “It’s found in laughter and in song,/ And in the silent time of prayer,/In all of life and nothing less,/ We find the thing we call Success.” I had erased, “In happiness and in despair.” Or, rather, whenever I have thought of the line, “In all of life and nothing less,” I simultaneously imagine the line in church marriage vows, “In sickness and health,” which serves to encompass all joys, hardships and eventualities of life.

This ennobling little verse, if a verse can ever imbue such upon its reader, resonates with Max Ehrmann’s (1872–1945) poem “Desiderata” (1927), which also lists actions and mindsets through which one could foster a good and worthwhile life. My earnest adolescent self also went through a phase of trying to memorise this work. The favourite line, besides the famous opening (“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.”), is “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars.”

Yes, a poet would cling to such a line.

Shining in Brightness,” a book of my poems and essays was compiled earlier this year. Preview this first volume at blurb.co.uk
Follow my Twitter musings about the artist’s life, the successful life and the wonder of dried figs. I tweet as @BeadedQuill