• T Clark
    6.6k
    Philosophical Poems

    From “West Running Brook” – Robert Frost

    Our life runs down in sending up the clock.
    The brook runs down in sending up our life.
    The sun runs down in sending up the brook.
    And there is something sending up the sun.
    It is this backward motion toward the source,
    Against the stream, that most we see ourselves in,
    The tribute of the current to the source.
    It is from this in nature we are from.
    It is most us.

    From “For Anne Gregory” – William Butler Yeats

    I heard an old religious man
    But yesternight declare
    That he had found a text to prove
    That only God, my dear,
    Could love you for yourself alone
    And not your yellow hair.


    From “Tao Te Ching” – Lao Tzu

    If you want to shrink something,
    you must first allow it to expand.
    If you want to get rid of something,
    you must first allow it to flourish.
    If you want to take something,
    you must first allow it to be given.
    This is called the subtle perception
    of the way things are.
  • Cavacava
    2.4k


    Time mashup:

    In its flow, in its motion
    The past can never live up to the present,
    especially when the color is yellow.
    Nature's rhythm enables those who listen.
  • T Clark
    6.6k
    In its flow, in its motion
    The past can never live up to the present,
    especially when the color is yellow.
    Nature's rhythm enables those who listen.
    Cavacava

    Is that your own? Don't make me bring out my poetry. Things could get ugly.
  • Shawn
    11.7k
    I never understood poetry outside of English class lessons analyzing them. I feel like I'm missing out on something but have difficulty in understanding poems as they can be quite deep in meaning.
  • T Clark
    6.6k
    I never understood poetry outside of English class lessons analyzing them. I feel like I'm missing out on something but have difficulty in understanding poems as they can be quite deep in meaning.Posty McPostface

    For me, poetry either works or it doesn't. Most of it doesn't. If it doesn't for you, that's just the way things go.
  • Shawn
    11.7k
    For me, poetry either works or it doesn't. Most of it doesn't. If it doesn't for you, that's just the way things go.T Clark

    I did like the “Tao Te Ching” – Lao Tzu poem though.
  • Noble Dust
    4.8k
    Time present and time past
    Are both perhaps present in time future,
    And time future contained in time past.
    If all time is eternally present
    All time is unredeemable.
    What might have been is an abstraction
    Remaining a perpetual possibility
    Only in a world of speculation.
    What might have been and what has been
    Point to one end, which is always present.
    Footfalls echo in the memory
    Down the passage which we did not take
    Towards the door we never opened
    Into the rose-garden. My words echo
    Thus, in your mind.
    But to what purpose
    Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
    I do not know.
    Other echoes
    Inhabit the garden. Shall we follow?
    Quick, said the bird, find them, find them,
    Round the corner. Through the first gate,
    Into our first world, shall we follow
    The deception of the thrush? Into our first world.
    There they were, dignified, invisible,
    Moving without pressure, over the dead leaves,
    In the autumn heat, through the vibrant air,
    And the bird called, in response to
    The unheard music hidden in the shrubbery,
    And the unseen eyebeam crossed, for the roses
    Had the look of flowers that are looked at.
    There they were as our guests, accepted and ac-
    cepting.
    So we moved, and they, in a formal pattern,
    Along the empty alley, into the box circle,
    To look down into the drained pool.
    Dry the pool, dry concrete, brown edged,
    And the pool was filled with water out of sunlight,
    And the lotos rose, quietly, quietly,
    The surface glittered out of heart of light,
    And they were behind us, reflected in the pool.
    Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty.
    Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of chil-
    dren,
    Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
    Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
    Cannot bear very much reality.
    Time past and time future
    What might have been and what has been
    Point to one end, which is always present.

    -Burnt Norton I, from Four Quartets, by T.S. Elliot
  • Noble Dust
    4.8k
    Damn, I get something new out of that every time I re-read it.
  • Noble Dust
    4.8k


    I think great poetry, like any art form, works on multiple levels. It should suck you in viscerally and emotionally, but have enough depth that you can reflect on it later, analyze it, and gain something new from it. And once that cycle has completed, and begins again, the new info you've gleaned through analysis influences the fresh, visceral experience of re-reading. This is how a poem gains depth. And yes, the poem is what gains depth over time, because your individual experience of the poem is what's undergoing an evolution.
  • T Clark
    6.6k
    Time past and time future
    What might have been and what has been
    Point to one end, which is always present.
    Noble Dust

    I have never liked T.S. Elliot, but I liked that. I wonder if it's because I'm almost 66.
  • Noble Dust
    4.8k


    Dunno; I'm much younger than that but love him. Was your dislike because of The Wasteland, by any chance? Edit: saw what you quoted, re: age. Never mind. I like the time stuff because it's confusing, but intuitively feels right.

    Four Quartets is a must read, to me. That's just the first section; it's about 50 pages long, and all equally as arcane, profound, annoying, and beautiful. It's the kind of long form poem I'll be reading for the rest of my life, and always gleaning something new from.
  • Noble Dust
    4.8k


    Also, Elliot studied philosophy, and then turned to poetry later. The minimalist composer Steve Reich did the same thing, turning to music.
  • T Clark
    6.6k
    Dunno; I'm much younger than that but love him. Was your dislike because of The Wasteland, by any chance? Edit: saw what you quoted, re: age. Never mind. I like the time stuff because it's confusing, but intuitively feels right.Noble Dust

    It's just that the way he talks about time matches how it feels looking back. Not exactly the same thing - but I often feel as if everything that ever happened in my life is still happening. My whole life is happening at once. Things that happened 50 years ago are just as real, and close at hand, as things that happened yesterday. My father, who died in 2001, is just as much with me as he was then.
  • Noble Dust
    4.8k


    That makes sense; I was made aware of that to a small degree when I was in therapy; living with regret or shame causes us to live in the past, or rather, the past is living with us in the present. Hopefully there's positive applications of that as well.

    Actually, re: Elliot as a philosopher-turned-poet, I love how in that first section of Burnt Norton, he sets out a philosophical proposition, and then, rather than providing a logical argument, he paints a dream-like picture of the surreal concept of "what might have been and what has been" (all of which occurs in "the rose-garden"). And then finishes off the section with a re-statement of the proposition. The way he creates that world, through imagination, feels more "real" than a logical proof attempting the same goal.
  • Noble Dust
    4.8k
    Now it is time that gods came walking out
    of lived-in Things...
    Time that they came and knocked down every wall
    inside my house. New page. Only the wind
    from such a turning could be strong enough
    to toss the air as a shovel tosses dirt:
    a fresh-turned field of breath. O gods, gods!
    who used to come so often and are still
    asleep in the Things around us, who serenely
    rise and at wells that we can only guess at
    splash icy water on your necks and faces,
    and lightly add your restedness to what seems
    already filled to bursting: our full lives.
    Once again let it be your morning, gods.
    We keep repeating. You alone are source.
    With you the world arises, and your dawn
    gleams on each crack and crevice of our failure...

    -Rainer Maria Rilke, from Uncollected Poems (1923-1926)
  • Janus
    10.9k


    No, it's because you're more than 65.
  • Ciceronianus
    1.9k
    From Wallace Stevens Esthetique du Mal:

    XII

    He disposes the world in categories, thus:
    The peopled and the unpeopled. In both, he is
    Alone. But in the peopled world, there is,
    Besides the people, his knowledge of them. In
    The unpeopled, there is his knowledge of himself.
    Which is more desperate in the moments when
    The will demands that what he thinks be true?

    Is it himself in them that he knows or they
    In him? If it is himself in them, they have
    No secret from him. If it is they in him,
    He has no secret from them. This knowledge
    Of them and of himself destroys both worlds,
    Except when he escapes from it. To be
    Alone is not to know them or himself.

    This creates a third world without knowledge,
    In which no one peers, in which the will makes no
    Demands. It accepts whatever is as true,
    Including pain, which, otherwise, is false.
    In the third world, then, there is no pain. Yes, but
    What lover has one in such rocks, what woman,
    However known, at the centre of the heart?
  • Moliere
    1.8k
    https://www.gutenberg.org/files/785/785-h/785-h.htm

    Perhaps a bit obvious, but worth noting all the same.
  • S
    11.8k
    Philosophy, philosophy,
    Bad for your head.
    The more you think,
    The more your brain farts.
    The more your brain farts,
    The worse you think.
    So let's pour philosophy down the sink.
  • Amity
    2.2k
    https://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poem/wisdom-and-follies-haikus/

    Wisdom and Follies Haikus
    by George Bruce

    Books – thousands – on shelves –
    Wisdom of ages.
    Folly if not in me

    When two words do
    for ten, then there is
    the possibility of wisdom

    When ten words set out
    to do what two will do
    then there is foolishness
  • Amity
    2.2k
    https://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poem/mindfulness-of-righteous-anger/

    Mindfulness of Righteous Anger
    by McGuire

    Mindfully running for the bus and missing it anyway. 
    Mindfully mistreating a cold caller with disproportionate contempt. 
    Mindfully furious as the news unfolds. 
    Mindfully shouting until you’re red in the face at the opposition. 
    Mindfully arming yourself against injustice  
    by doing nothing for a bit. 

    Mindfully arguing for an hour and wanting to be right  
    about something you don’t entirely understand yourself  
    but you are too invested in now 
    to be willing to concede anyway. 

    Mindfully breaking suddenly in your car 
    at a pedestrian walking out in front of you shouting:  
    ‘WATCH WHERE THE HELL YOU’RE GOING, IDIOT!’ 

    Mindfully alarmed with the awareness 
    that it is in your nature to die, have accidents and get ill. 
    Mindfully alone, unbalanced and tear-filled. 
    Mindfully slamming the door and deleting all accounts. 

    Mindfully finished. 
    Mindfully snapping the last straw. 
    Mindfully to the bin with it all. 
    Mindfully in a love hate relationship with dissatisfaction. 
    Mindfully sitting with your eyes squeezed shut  
    wishing to vanish the world away. 

    Mindfully so had it with the world  
    you’ll give this mindfulness malarkey a miss  
    for an hour of screaming at the sky instead.  

    Mindfulness of this.
  • Janus
    10.9k
    The Burning Breath of Reason

    In a park land, the wound
    of a ragged road to a red quarry
    burned like fire in a crumbling domain
    where love is thought as nought,
    where sleek and fertile beings
    are killed for serial pleasure.

    The inexpungible need for certainty
    reinforced solipsistic games
    of world-hiding romance;
    it was thought
    behind delusional dreams,
    Reality must lie.

    Was it mind or heart
    that led the dance
    into such dreaded enlightenment?
    Reason believed
    the world knot severed
    and wills everywhere were then compelled!

    Aspiring love knew the depths of estrangement and metaphors
    of marriage were of gardens falling into disordered ruin,
    weed dominated farmlands, barren lands that would not produce,
    aspirant minds and enquiring eyes
    were exchanged for burnished weapons,
    a lonely and desperate fear blanketed the skies.

    When loveless bodies shivered in loneliness all being convulsed
    and compulsive voluptuous movements began and hands flailed
    and figures appeared before glazing eyes as minds dreamed of touch;
    on the far side of a plain
    where little grew lived the forest
    deep and lonely.


    Shadows warned of darkness in the after-light where humped mountains
    were milling like thieves, sounds of birds were descending slowly, draining
    into the blood-soaked humus as an insect chorus was swelling.
    The tired land fought human hands, the gloaming was alive in murmuring
    voices that spoke aloud to cast out demons and the moon was moved imperceptibly
    through the seasons and across the radial rim of sky and cranium.
    The multitudes of paths were hard to discern, to choose,
    where was the slippery one that sloped away into darkness
    or the straight one that led to sunrise? All of the philosophy
    of the past lay at the bottom of an ocean, the farthest reaches
    and familiar shores had been watered by the tears of the ancients,
    the soil was moist and forgiving; where and when did all living flesh sink in?

    Unsettling bird calls were rising out of the shadows of afternoon,
    the entire earth wanted sustenance and the reassurance of progeny
    sweeping the world and illumining the days of minions whose eyes
    would glow with supernatural fire. A final spatter of pleasure adorned
    night’s breast summoned from the dictionary of last light.
    Millions praised the brilliant gleam from one good eye; now the time
    had come to cry quietly on the bed and wait for the gods to call down
    the wandering dark, over many a day of well-lived irony, of nihilism
    well-doomed, of muted hills and trees. Cold grew over winter’s scaffold.
    Maker, seamstress, bush and bird now lay dormant, preparing to renew
    their own and make ready the dawn, when God will be grown and love
    set free and all will fall to toil like tigers.

    In that day weapons training will be almost incidental, contradictory
    thoughts of destiny will prevail; Under the light of excessive meaning
    no post will be thought too low or dwelling too squalid. Multi-tested
    mettle will light the fires of talent, hard against the soil limbs
    will be strengthened. Quickened by a surfeit of sensation souls
    will pulse with pride and love will kindle warm hearts and temper
    the animal mind. And the love will be shared with brothers and sisters,
    and the rest will be beasts fit for exploitation or slaughter.

    An image will congeal in the collective eye; the desperate separation
    of the one and the many, a million voices will mutter words like artificial
    flowers, searching through intonation for this or that. The maw of the world
    will open, the flesh of language will be honeyed to conceal infected wounds
    red and suppurating. Lost at the bottom of the ocean lies a secret; in the heart
    of the atom dwells the logic of pain, that all blooms will have their day to show.
    When bright blood and young sap diminishes; love will be flowing away, quickly
    and quietly; along silent and lonely constructed channels, concealed by darkness.

    The present moment will be the essence of reason when all walk into the frame,
    draped with the skins of culture. On forgotten holy days wily labourers
    will rest their sticks and tools, and time, bristling with protuberances,
    hanging upside down as a tenuous symbol, will thread the needle of the word
    and attach, precariously, the great carcass of the world
    to this saddened hook of theory.

    It will be a short stay in the garden with a myriad of things to grab the eye,
    but instead all attention will be drawn to that one bloom,
    the one that will fade and wither in a small room,
    barely catching the sunlight from one narrow window,
    and that will be given up the moment it is forgotten or will be turned
    to dust in the eye of a ghost,

    Quick to be drawn down into the earth like the faint
    attempts at parsimony when the well of plenty forms the deepest spring,
    economies of thought are most hoped-for
    and many come to see the meagre treasures
    from which understanding has flown…Mortal mouths exhale the breath of reason
    intermixed with many mysterious winds; of death and of life there is never enough
  • Apollodorus
    2.6k
    If it doesn't for you, that's just the way things go.T Clark

    Or how the cookie crumbles.
  • Tom Storm
    2.2k
    Aubade
    I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
    Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
    In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
    Till then I see what’s really always there:
    Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
    Making all thought impossible but how
    And where and when I shall myself die.
    Arid interrogation: yet the dread
    Of dying, and being dead,
    Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.

    The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
    —The good not done, the love not given, time
    Torn off unused—nor wretchedly because
    An only life can take so long to climb
    Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
    But at the total emptiness for ever,
    The sure extinction that we travel to
    And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
    Not to be anywhere,
    And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

    This is a special way of being afraid
    No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
    That vast, moth-eaten musical brocade
    Created to pretend we never die,
    And specious stuff that says No rational being
    Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
    That this is what we fear—no sight, no sound,
    No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
    Nothing to love or link with,
    The anesthetic from which none come round.

    And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
    A small unfocused blur, a standing chill
    That slows each impulse down to indecision.
    Most things may never happen: this one will,
    And realisation of it rages out
    In furnace-fear when we are caught without
    People or drink. Courage is no good:
    It means not scaring others. Being brave
    Lets no one off the grave.
    Death is no different whined at than withstood.

    Philip Larkin
  • T Clark
    6.6k


    Pretty bleak. As I've gotten older, I've felt less and less this way, for what that's worth. I think it started changing when my father died in 2001, when I was 49. It brought my family together in a way that had never happened before. That change continues.
  • Tom Storm
    2.2k
    I hear you. I don't share the poem's sentiment particularly, it's just one of the more memorable poems about death.
  • Hanover
    7k
    There once was a philosopher from Nantucket
    Whose posts were too stupid to cut it
    So he gave a quick glance as he unzipped his pants
    And said if. @Baden must ban me he can suck it.

    Sir Hanover
  • T Clark
    6.6k
    I hear you. I don't share the poem's sentiment particularly, it's just one of the more memorable poems about death.Tom Storm

    The closer I get to death, the funnier it seems. There's also that feeling of vertigo you get when you stand close to the edge of a great height.

    Changing the subject, this is from "Aunt Celia, 1961" by Carl Dennis:

    People will tell you there are many good lives
    Waiting for everyone, each fine in its own way.
    And maybe they’re right, but in my opinion
    One is miles above the others.
    Otherwise it wouldn’t have been so clear to me
    When I found it. Otherwise those who lack it
    Wouldn’t be able to tell so clearly it’s missing
    As they go on living as best they can
    Without complaining. Noble lives, and beautiful,
    And happy as much as doing well can make them.
    But as for the happiness that can’t be earned,
    The kind it makes no sense for you to look for,
    That’s something different.
  • T Clark
    6.6k
    Sir HanoverHanover

    Poet, presidential candidate, goatherd, philosopher. Is there anything he can't do.
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