• Amity

    Thank you. The war poems - always moving - the awful personal circumstances and philosophy of war expressed. Wanting to find out more about this poem and its meaning, I found this:

    I am sure there are many more interpretations.
    Also of interest:
    ‘Futility’ has been twice arranged into a musical setpiece before – once, in 1982, when Virginia Astley set ‘Futility’ to music, later going to the 1983 album, Promise Nothing, and once in 1961 as part of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem.poem analysis - wilfred owen - futility

    Now, don't make me cart my copy of "Best Loved Poems of the American People" out of mothballs...Michael Zwingli
    I first read that as 'out of mouthballs' ! [ hmm, mothballs > gob balls > gob=mouth ]

    Also made me wonder about war poets from other countries.
    War is global; impacting many. Voices not heard or listened to. So, for a different perspective, I googled Russian female war poets and discovered more than I bargained for.
    A very long alphabetical list of countries.

    Scrolled down, down, down to Russia...
    I wanted to read the poems of 2 women soldier poets but a further search failed.
    However, here's something about Marina Tsvietaieva and one of her poems:

    From: https://femalewarpoets.blogspot.com/2014/12/marina-tsvietaieva-1892-1941-russian.html

    Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich set some of Marina’s poems to music and in 2003 an opera about her was performed in New York – “Marina: A Captive Spirit.”

    Here is a translation of one of Marina's poems:

    I Know the Truth

    This truth I know – all other truths must cease
    Our useless struggle no longer can appease.
    For it is evening and the earth by night will soon be covered
    What are you discussing? Poets? Generals? Lovers?

    The wind has softened and the earth is damp with dew
    The galaxy of stars above will soon be but a few
    And together we beneath the earth will slumber -
    We, who gave no others peace but constant thunder.
    female war poets

    As in Owen's 'Futility' - the life, death, nature connection is clear.
    And even as it questions our gatherings of thoughts - do they matter? - it shows a sense of togetherness. A philosophical, personal 'truth' which inspired others.

    I walk through graveyards for perspective.
  • Amity
    ‘Futility’ has been twice arranged into a musical setpiece before – once, in 1982, when Virginia Astley set ‘Futility’ to music, later going to the 1983 album, Promise Nothing,poem analysis - wilfred owen - futility

    Virginia Astley - Futility (1983)
  • Amity
    Poetry in a letter:

    Benjamin Britten's "War Requiem": A Letter From Wilfred Owen

    At Britten's request, there was no applause following the performance.[14] It was a triumph, and critics and audiences at this and subsequent performances in London and abroad hailed it as a contemporary masterpiece.[15] Writing to his sister after the premiere, Britten said of his music, "I hope it'll make people think a bit." On the title page of the score he quoted Wilfred Owen:

    My subject is War, and the pity of War.

    The Poetry is in the pity ...

    All a poet can do today is warn.

    Wiki: War Requiem
  • Michael Zwingli
    I walk through graveyards for perspective.Amity

    Haha, and I thought I was the only one... Actually, I walk through graveyards, especially older portions of graveyards, for another purpose as well. Symbology is another interest of myself (along with linguistics, semantics, philosophy in general, "maths"...I must be the king of dillettantes), and the iconography on some of the old headstones is of great interest to me.
  • Amity
    Haha, and I thought I was the only one...Michael Zwingli

    Ah well, I was using a bit of poetic licence - I gain a sense of perspective whenever I visit graveyards or listen to haunting imagery. It isn't a hobby.

    I do enjoy the peace of old graveyards - rarely anyone there - the headstones leaning in the grass.
    I wonder about the lives of the people - only a glimpse on headstones.

    Re: Symbolism. A particular symbol stood out. It was white and looked modern.
    A perfect circle. A hole carved into the stone. Eternity.
    And of course - the spiritual symbol of the Celtic cross.

  • T Clark
    Now, don't make me cart my copy of "Best Loved Poems of the American People" out of mothballs...Michael Zwingli

    Please do.
  • Michael Zwingli
    I wonder about the lives of the people - only a glimpse on headstones.Amity

    I have found myself doing this as well.

    Re: Symbolism. A particular symbol stood out. It was white and looked modern.
    A perfect circle. A hole carved into the stone. Eternity.
    And of course - the spiritual symbol of the Celtic cross

    I have never seen a hole cut through a headstone, but love the symbolism of it. Many of the symbols to be found on gravestones are known from other sources: military, naval, fraternal (Masonic, Elks, Odd Fellows have the best), etc. Some, however, are unique to the funerary realm, such as the broken branch, signifying one whose life was cut short, or the sickle, signifying the eventuality of death.
  • Amity
    I have never seen a hole cut through a headstone,Michael Zwingli

    See Circle:
  • Michael Zwingli
    Think how it wakes the seeds—
    Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
    — Michael Zwingli

    Love it. Love it. Love it.
    T Clark
    This like of the poem relates particularly with another, let me explain my view regarding this.

    Note that while the first stanza of this poem, following the imperative statement,
    Move him into the sun—Michael Zwingli
    comprises a series of observations regarding the unnamed subject, the dying soldier, the second stanza amounts to an argument, made by Owen's unnamed soldierly narrator to those present with him, and perhaps to the world as a whole, presenting a rationale supporting his initial imperative.

    One of the aspects of this poem that I have always admired, whether intended by Owen or not I am unsure, is the set of logical relationships inherent within the causal sequence of that argument. The series of lines:
    Think how it wakes the seeds—
    Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
    Are limbs so dear-achieved, are sides
    Full-nerved,—still warm,—too hard to stir?
    Was it for this the clay grew tall?
    Michael Zwingli
    represents a sequence of statements comprising the narrator's argument. Note also the semantically induced connection made between the Earth and the dying soldier, perticularly by means of repetitive use of "clay" applied variously to Earth and the soldier, in:
    Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.Michael Zwingli
    , and
    Was it for this the clay grew tall?Michael Zwingli
    I have always found this very bright, and have benefitted Owen with my presumption of intentionality with respect thereto.

    The final line,

    —O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
    To break earth's sleep at all?
    Michael Zwingli

    of course, is a narrative statement recognizing the "futility" of the preceding argument, tying the entire achievement to it's title.
  • T Clark
    of course, is a narrative statement recognizing the "futility" of the preceding argument, tying the entire achievement to it's title.Michael Zwingli

    This is not an argument against anything you've written about the poem, or what I've written for that matter - I loved the poem before I thought about it. Before I went back and thought about your comments and formulated mine. The explication was interesting and helped me think about language and poetry in general, but I loved the poem first.

    I used this phrase in the "Definition of Art" thread. It's sometimes used to describe country music. I don't know if you're familiar with it - Three chords and the truth. You don't necessarily need sophistication to speak from the heart.
  • Michael Zwingli
    Three chords and the truth.T Clark

    Hey, I can imagine that being said in the world of Country Music, especially by the older Country musicians, who often came from hardscrabble places.

    You don't necessarily need sophistication to speak from the heart.T Clark

    I agree. As you seem taken with the poem, I just wanted to discuss a couple of the things that I have noticed about it. There is a certain usual process of appreciation that happens with me when I initially read a fine poem. At first blush, I feel a general sense of profundity and awe the basis of which I cannot always quite discern. With subsequent readings, though, often begin to notice the poetic devices used in the creation of something special.
  • T Clark
    I agree. As you seem taken with the poem, I just wanted to discuss a couple of the things that I have noticed about it. There is a certain usual process of appreciation that happens with me when I initially read a fine poem. At first blush, I feel a general sense of profundity and awe the basis of which I cannot always quite discern. With subsequent readings, though, often begin to notice the poetic devices used in the creation of something special.Michael Zwingli

    I wasn't finding fault with the process you and I are going through. I've really enjoyed it. I just always want to make sure I keep my eye on the experience of poetry rather than the interpretation. As you've noted, the kinds of things you and I are talking about can deepen the experience. Most of the poetry interpretation I've read is baloney.
  • Michael Zwingli
    I just always want to make sure I keep my eye on the experience of poetry rather than the interpretation. As you've noted, the kinds of things you and I are talking about can deepen the experience.T Clark

    Yes, these things can enrich one's appreciation afterwards, but as you have noted, first comes the love. I will try to find more new poems for you to love, as time goes by. Have you read much Tennyson, or Emily Dickinson?
  • T Clark
    Yes, these things can enrich one's appreciation afterwards, but as you have noted, first comes the love. I will try to find more new poems for you to love, as time goes by. Have you read much Tennyson, or Emily Dickinson?Michael Zwingli

    Not much Tennyson. A bit of Dickinson. I remember writing an essay about one of here poems in 11th grade English. I like her ok. Pick one of hers you like and we can have some more fun.
  • T Clark
    My children are all at least 30 years old now, but I remember reading to them when they were little. There are a lot of crap children's books out there and, if they like the story or the pictures, you might end up reading it over and over. I never got tired of this poem and the book with pictures it was published in. I buy the book as the first gift I give to all first children. I see it as a gift for the parents at least as much as the child.

    I love this poem for all those reasons, and also because it's wonderful.

    Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

    In the great green room
    There was a telephone
    And a red balloon
    And a picture of
    The cow jumping over the moon
    And there were three little bears sitting on chairs
    And two little kittens
    And a pair of mittens
    And a little toy house
    And a young mouse
    And a comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush
    And a quiet old lady who was whispering “hush”
    Goodnight room
    Goodnight moon
    Goodnight cow jumping over the moon
    Goodnight light
    And the red balloon
    Goodnight bears
    Goodnight chairs
    Goodnight kittens
    And goodnight mittens
    Goodnight clocks
    And goodnight socks
    Goodnight little house
    And goodnight mouse
    Goodnight comb
    And goodnight brush
    Goodnight nobody
    Goodnight mush
    And goodnight to the old lady whispering “hush”
    Goodnight stars
    Goodnight air
    Good night noises everywhere
  • PoeticUniverse
    I have extended the ‘Rubaiyat’ by adding more of Omar’s quatrains and some of my own at the appropriate places, illustrating it with my digital art compositions. But first… some background:

    FitzOmar’s Rubaiyat and Its Interpretations

    Edward FitzGerald’s ‘Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam’ poem stunned Victorian England soon after Darwin’s ‘Origin of the Species’ had shocked their sensibilities, but soon they and the world came to embrace what came to be known as the greatest poem in history, and also the one most often illustrated.

    Omar had the deep and grand ideas, but it was FitzGerald, as a kindred soul and poet, who dressed them in such fine clothes, attracting the world to them forever.

    The synergy of FitzOmar takes us far and away from the mundane, everyday, low-life, blah-blah, sit-com type situations, into the glorious reaches of deeper thinking about the Big Questions, as well as to the great philosophical tenet of enjoying life to the fullest.

    FitzGerald’s transmogrification of Omar is near unbelievable in its excellence, one of those rare poetic products that could go on for hundreds of years without equal. Shelley was close, in his poem, ‘Adonais’, as well as was Thomas Gray, in ‘An Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard’.

    See the ‘Concordance of the Rubáiyát’ online to see from what very plain original language FitzGerald developed his stupendous quatrain gems time and time again. FitzGerald even discarded some quatrains because they were merely quite masterful instead of meeting the perfectly superb standard he had set for himself. I have restored them.

    All things, roll on “impotently”, by Omar. We are, as Shakespeare noted, but actors in a play, strutting and posturing. When were we ever responsible for how we were or are at any given moment?

    What benefit to life then? I suggest it is Experience, which can be mostly a joy—with Omar’s love, drink, food, friends, adventure, romance, and deep feeling, although transient, but ever of the glorious Now, and generally free of shame and blame, being in the Paradise of right here, plus we being just as organic as anything else in nature, and thus no more important, “willy-nilly blowing”.

    “Round which we Phantom Figures come and go” is about the noumena from which our phenomena arise from, as a kind of holo-graphic phantasmagorial realm of the “Magic Shadow-Show”. What lies behind is difficult to get at, but there has been some progress, such as insights into our brain networks.

    “The Eternal Saki from that Bowl has pour’d/Millions of Bubbles like us, and will pour” because, well, in short, it has to, all things happening over and over again for all time. It’s Deja vu all over again.

    “Which, for the Pastime of Eternity, He doth Himself contrive, enact, behold” and the like is that, if one plays along with the myth, it is like that He thought of, planned, designed, and implemented humans and their nature, with an inherent wide-ranging spectrum of capacity for and from Good to Bad; however, in this myth-take ‘God’ bears no responsibility for His recipe expressing itself in just the way He all-knowingly intended it to. Why His surprise and disappointment?

    Often, big paradoxes mightily arrive when a proposed realm is declared  ‘invisible’, and Omar is ever up to the task. Brave Omar knocks ‘god’ without fear.

    When “You shall be You no more” and “And naked on the Air of Heaven ride”, and the like, it is perhaps that there not really a redundant soul ever living on, made of some invisible angelic vapour that duplicates and preserves our brain neuron network, which readily maintains what is already you just fine, in some essence of an already evolutionarily expensively formed brain. FitzGerald’s ‘quicksilver’ is either as the above soul or as wine coursing through us.

    Omar cites the limits to Knowing Everything as us moving toward a carpe diem centering in the now. He writes “…evermore Came out by the same Door as in I went”, “…But not the Master knot of Human Fate”, and so forth. Not being able to know is the same dilemma facing his Impotent Great Wheel itself.

    And so Omar unveils his basic human philosophy for the human condition, the central tenet being the primacy of the ‘Now’— over “Unborn To-morrow and dead Yesterday”.

    The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
    Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
    Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
    Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

    While the above probably refers to predestination by Allah, as made more explicit in other quatrains, it can also relate now-a-days to more scientifically modern views as to how each moment arises in Time, in the Now, and then completely passes away, wholly replaced right then and there by the next Now, which process, or even ‘processing’, can’t be stopped, much like the deterministic chain “That none can slip, nor break, nor over-reach”.

    Whether there is being or becoming, as eternalism or presentism, is still an open question. We don’t know the mode of time, for either mode would have the same appearance to us.

    What one did long ago is done, dead, and gone, obviating any real shame and blame, but one must as well give up any fame, as well, crediting all to Fate. Plus, indeed, can anyone really be held responsible for who/what they’ve come to be from nature and nurture?

    While Omar rails against a predestination by ‘God’, it is for other, godless, reasons that determinism might still be much the way events have to be, but for some possible quantum level randomness, if any, which damages the will, anyway, harming it, not helping it at all, as much as we somehow wish to think that our will can be free of itself or that we or any part of physical Nature can do the same to somehow be self-made entities as mini first causes. It seems that for one to have ‘God’, whatever Nature does is what ‘God’ does, and so thus ‘god’ is not required.

    Omar reveals that an ultimate basis without Origin, such as his causeless Great Wheel. standing in for the Eternal Basis, cannot even know its own reason for existence, and is powerless over this and its state, with no choice given to it for its being, it having to do just what it does and naught else, much as we may also have to admit to at our level.

    “It rolls impotently on as Thou or I”, or it just ‘IS’, ever and eternal, without a beginning or end, and what never begins cannot have a certain direction, design, meaning, or purpose put to it in the first place that never was.

    Whose secret Presence through Creation’s veins
    Running Quicksilver-like eludes your pains;
    Taking all shapes from Máh to Máhi and
    They change and perish all—but He remains;

    Thanks to you both, Edward FitzGerald and Omar Khayyam, for the insights, as well as for attending to the serious task of pointing out the dubious and the deep.

    Part 1:

  • PoeticUniverse

    Towards the Gods Far and Unknown

    My reverie took flight, with autumn’s sight,
    For I was abstracted, entranced, and light.

    I beamed to the site suffused with insight—
    The solutions are deep within the mind,
    Reachable by dreams of the lucid kind.

    I flew south from my home, in New Hamburg,
    Over the Hudson river, toward Newburgh,
    Past Chelsea, and the great Storm King Mountain—
    On philosophical aspiration.

    A wake of leaves trailed behind, like a stream,
    While I gathered clues, through my musing means.
    My design, in this vaporous pipe dream,
    Was to converse with all the Gods who seemed.

    If Fishkill’s and Peekskill’s murderous names
    Had not been token enough, there soon came
    A sequence of locales that seemed to be
    Ominous in their triple proximity.

    First was Sleepy Hollow, the haunted land
    Of the gambols of the headless horseman,
    Then the Gate of Heaven Cemetery,

    And the surprising Town of Valhalla—
    A bright afterlife of an old-time place,
    Of shops built right up against the road race.

    I stopped to rest, well away from the maze,
    Dazzled by the lustrous autumnal haze,
    In a warm day’s musk, before twilight dusk,
    Near shining gates, toward the unearthly sod
    Of the refulgent Graveyard of the Gods.

    Over the stream, there was an arched bridge thrown.
    Then I knew I’d gone beyond the known:
    For in that span, each piece was a keystone.

    I questioned two luminous angel goths,
    “Where be the mythic Graveyard of the Gods?”

    They looked askance, then smiled and pointed past,
    “It’s just beyond the Land of Epitaphs.”

  • PoeticUniverse
    Tombstone Remembrances

    The cemetery was where the ducks were fed,
    Where two friends feasted on wine, verse, and bread,
    Amidst the flowered trees and quiet streams—
    The home for both the living and the dead.

    We lived at once, aware that life was dear,
    Oft smiling at Heaven and Hell without fear;
    Yes, we had some laughs, gave true love, and made
    Life better—for it was now and we were here.

    Here the grave-sign of The Four Elements:
    From the fires of stars to those of the cremation,
    He has breathed, flourished, and dissolved:
    Life is ashes to ashes, stardust to stardust.

    Of airy winds, vapors, and a soft earth,
    He rests, at last, under the spinning skies,
    Those of Earth’s sunny days and starry nights.

    The Symphony of Life plays for the dead:
    All that we know, even the loveliest of the best,
    Decomposes into the dust of earth compressed.
    The songs once composed now lie in repose;
    Of this dust the future rearranges to recompose.

    En-graved is ‘THE END’ of your Earthly sigh:
    Six sides ‘round you: five are dirt, one is sky.
    Shov’ling, Death talks to you at last, and says:
    “What were you doing during all of nigh?”

    From Heaven’s stars came our dust eterne;
    Time’s seas nurtured thee and thine in turn.
    From time, death, and dust we thus became,
    And by this, thus, and that we must return.

    What would be the price of a moment’s breath
    Purchased from Death’s hand at the final hour?
    All the world’s wealth can’t extend the power
    That drains the cup and withers the flower.

    The light of Heav’n did the Earth illumine,
    When He shaped human nature’s acumen.
    Temptations He then placed everywhere,
    But He’ll punish us for being human!

    The wings of time are checkered black and white,
    As fluttering ‘round the day flies the night.
    Like chess pieces, we gamely play for life,
    Until into the box we return, quite!

    Now my cup was nearly empty and done;
    There was left but one last drop for the sun
    To drink, or with which to make rivers run:
    Its flavor burst in joy—my life was won!

    Not all poems are pleasant—some speak of death,
    Of life’s end, separate by just a breath.
    I saw tombstones overgrown, under swept,
    Names unknown—and to all the message saith:

    Read Me, it said, engraved beyond the brink,
    You, who live, up above: of life go drink;
    And you, underneath, now lying so dead:
    Rest in peace, RELAX—it’s later than you think!

    Refreshed, I wandered among the tombstones,
    Under which rested little more than bones,
    Where from the life had fled when dreams were dead,
    Which under me became life’s stepping stones.

    I’ll play the game and roll the earthly dies,
    And through this worldly life enjoy the prize;
    If Earth is Hell for love’s adventurers,
    Then I wish no more for God’s Paradise.

    Good and evil were wrought from wrong and right,
    When, of nought, twin genii split day and night.
    Some may think that black’s might can vanquish white,
    But night can’t even quench the smallest light!

    Every-thing, every order happens for a reason.
    Yes, for the most part, for most seasons,
    But not for the bottommost cause the first,
    For there was nothing before it to direct it forth.

    Youth and Beauty made agèd Winter mourn,
    For Summer’s grain—the waving wheat and corn;
    For Old Autumn, withered, wan, had passed on,
    Leaving the Earth a widow, weather worn.

    At first, you sleep in your dear mother’s womb;
    At last, you sleep in Earth’s cold silent tomb.
    In between, Life whispers a dream that says
    Wake, live, for the rose withers all too soon!

    Waste not the time of your life in gloom’s doom!
    By these verses, your lamp of life relume:
    Your live body, full of warmth and bloom,
    Is worth ten thousand lying in the tomb.

    Art and poetry enrich human experience,
    But they’re no substitutes for the living of it.
    Like Keats’ figures on the urn, should we live life less?
    No, because what is deathless is also lifeless!

  • PoeticUniverse

    Into supernatural figmentations,
    I strode, through brilliant imagination,
    To interview all the supposed Gods there—
    Some no more and some ruling everywhere.

    Notions of ‘God’ are of the wide purview
    Of the inquiring mind confined—its ‘why’,
    That wide expanse of fables, faith, hoaxes,
    Lies, imaginations, fictions, guesses,

    Foggy notions, concoctions, phantasms,
    Fantasies, falsehoods, conceptions,
    Decrees, fiats, misrepresentations,
    Dead ideas, magic, proclamations,

    Wild tales, anecdotes, revelations,
    Untruths, revelations, hearsay, scrap heaps,
    Yarns, and fish stories, stated as beliefs
    In that unseeable supernatural station,
    Through faith’s without knowledge ration;
    These are all figmentations of the imagination.

    Strewn about this great panoramic realm
    Of the One possibly conceivable at the helm
    Were all of the unknowable fabrications
    Often dreamt up, via exaggerations,
    By the human race of mammal sapiens.

    The realm of such pronouncements has come to be
    Superposed at the furthest edge of Reality,
    Poised by the scope of some wishful thinking,
    By all those dreaming and wild supposing,

    Who wish for such legends to be ever
    Actualized and realized; however,
    These unknowns have never ever made it
    Into our observable realistic habitat in any way,

    They but remaining in the minds, joint,
    Of the God-beholders—
    Even as wildly varying viewpoints.

  • PoeticUniverse
    The Graveyard of the Gods

    Without so much much as a word to say,
    I passed those to whom most no longer pray,
    Nor believe in, but once did, namely,
    Those of the tombstones now deemed unholy:
    Astrology—the God of the stars that plod,
    Eternally blazed and marbled in the sod,

    Monuments of Diana the Moon God,
    Druid Gods, Apollo, Baal, Zeus, Wotan,
    Aphrodite, Mithras, Isis, Amon,
    Poseidon, Thor, and on and on, anon—
    Posed in the burial ground of the Gods.

    I ever hurried past the ledgering
    Of those older Mythologies preceding
    The formation of the Old Testament story—
    Those ancient superstitions whose very
    And various olden amalgamations
    Brought forth to form it whole for our salvation.

    I paused at that Old Testament maligned,
    To mark the old but lingering lines
    Of the ‘knowing’ of more invisibles—
    The beliefs in imagined Angelics:

    There were angels standing, frozen in stone,
    Over the timeworn memorials’ poems,
    As well as atop the crumbling gateposts,
    Cast as undying and near-living ghosts

    Of the representations of the three spheres
    Of the Heavenly host: the demigod-near
    Seraphim, Cherubim, Ophanim,
    Thrones, Principalities, Dominions,

    Powers, Archangels, Angels, and, those final,
    And the most useful—the Guardian Angels,
    Who are said to protect children from harm.

    There, Amaranth, its dead red leaves never
    Fading on this Earth, unto forever,
    Gave some color ‘round the graveyard pallor
    And to the dateless headstones’ gray squalor.

    There was a garish maroon view, on high,
    Of streaking lights of an electromagnetic sky,
    Heretofore never imagined by my self.
    I strolled on, and into the vale itself.

    To The Eternally Dead

    Here lie the Gods, once so high,
    Beneath an electromagnetic sky.

    Lo!—the eternally marbled monuments
    Of the Moon God, the Sun God (Apollo),
    Baal, Zeus, Wotan, Aphrodite, Thor,
    Mithras, Isis, Amon, Poseidon, Krishna,
    The Druid Gods, and so many more.

    Behold!—the ledger of those many Mythologies
    That preceded, paraded, and then passed on.

    Here they rest, the dead and long gone rhyme,
    Adorned with the splendor of mouldering time.

  • PoeticUniverse
    The Intelligent Designer

    I approached a semitransparent,
    Theistic Embellishment, quite well lit,
    Who was holding out an eyeball—a shove
    Of His hand for me to take note of.

    “Who might you be?” He mimed,
    “For I am the God of Intelligent Design,
    The One who was made by the signs discerned,
    When the creationists noted them all, unlearned.”

    I answered, “I am Austin, Earth’s flower,
    Although not ‘Powers’, but ‘Higher Powers’.”

    “Ha. Lo, they saw inexplicable complexity in Nature,
    And thus they leapt and promulgated that Nature
    Must have a Grand Designer of its mechanical dance,
    For how could life have come about by ‘chance’?”

    I replied, “You’re right about ‘chance’s’ stance,
    But wrong about ‘chance’ too, for little greatness,
    If any at all, comes about by mere ‘chance’,

    “Especially as some giant leap in one bound,
    Up the sheer cliff-side of Mt. Improbable—
    To find on its top a great complexity
    Of something like the eye that You show me;

    “However, it is actually an error to suppose
    That ‘Chance’ is the scientific alternative
    To Intelligent Design, for that’s quite negative.

    “Natural Selection is the means of the design,
    For it, unlike a one-shot ‘chance’, being not in kind,
    Is a cumulative effect that ever winds,
    And slowly and so gently climbs

    Around the mountain’s other side, behind the sight,
    To eventually arrive at the great height
    Of complexity—from which we can then view
    The beautiful sights through our eye anew.”

    “But the widespread Watchtower Zines
    Always pronounce that the biological Designs
    Were created by Me instead of by ‘chance’!

    “Just look at these eyeballs—take a glance—
    And the optic system hanging behind them!
    How could that come about by ‘chance’, these gems?”

    “You, like your followers, may listen,
    But You do not hear, writing with untruth’s pen.
    IDers deceive by this wrong approach,
    Whether they mean to or not; I give reproach.

    “‘Chance’ is not the opposite of Nature’s design;
    Evolution of the Species through the graduality
    Of Natural Selection is the path to complexity;
    Your ploy falls as flat as an imaginary line.

    “A flatworm has but an optical system’s spark
    That can only sense but light and dark;
    Thus it sees no image, not even a part;

    “Whereas Nautilus has a ‘pinhole camera’ eye
    About as good as half a human eye
    That sees but very blurry shapes;
    Thus these are examples of intermediate stages.

    “‘Rome’ can not be built in a day by ‘chance’;
    ‘Chance’ is not a likely designer at all!

    “Really now, could a 747 ever be
    Assembled by a hurricane blowing free
    Through Boeing’s warehouse of all the parts?
    Now is this the sum of Your conversational art?”

    “No, Austin—it’s quite unlikely—’tis just to confuse,
    And that’s why we always so misleadingly use
    The 747 argument as the contrast to ID…

    “So then, Austie, ‘chance’ and Intelligent Design
    Are not the two candidate solutions we’ll find
    To the riddle posed by the improbable?
    It’s not like a jackpot or nothing at all?”

    “‘God’, Your ID ideas persist, as repetition,
    But again, ‘chance’, for one, is not a solution
    To the highly improbable situated Nature,
    And no sane anti-creationist, for sure,
    Ever said that it was; your tale is impure.

    “Intelligent Design, is neither a solution—
    Because it raises a much bigger question
    Than it solves, as You will soon see, in a lesson.”

    “Well, I’ll be darned,” replied the Designer.
    “Natural selection is a good answer;

    “It is a very long and summative process,
    One which breaks up the problem’s mess
    Of improbability into smaller pieces, less,
    Each of which is only slightly improbable,

    “But not prohibitively so, thus it’s reasonable,
    As the product of all the little steps of which
    Would be far beyond the reach of chance—it’s rich!

    “The creationists have been looking askance,
    Seeing only the end product, perchance,
    Thinking of it as a single event of chance,
    Never even understanding
    The great power of accumulation.

    “Such they didn’t know much else—their fall,
    Not having any other natural ideas at all,
    So they outright claimed that ID did it, as the Tree
    That can magically grow the All, namely Me.”

    “So ‘God’ You have now seen the light
    Of the accumulative power’s might;
    This is the elegance of Evolution’s ‘sight’.”

    “Yes but what is to become of Me, the Person,
    For I only ‘exist’ through their speculation.

    “In fact, the improbability of Me is so High,
    And so much more so from where I lie so ‘sure’,
    Compared to that of ‘simple’ Nature,
    That My own origin…”

    “…Is a near-infinitely Larger dilemma, Mate,
    For the creationists—the problem they love to hate;
    That being that You, therefore, can only be explained
    By another, Higher Intelligent Designer claimed!

    “Far from terminating the endless regress,
    They’ve aggravated it with a vengeance
    That is way beyond repair or redress—
    As beyond could ever be yonder of! Out west!”

    With that, the poor Guy faded toward oblivion,
    Which remarkably was the very location
    I was visiting, but hence he soon reappeared,
    Although in another guise, but quite well attired.

    [God created Adam, then Eve, of Adam’s rib,
    Both fully formed, imbued with God’s knowledge
    And memories of times that never were,
    Such as childhood.]

    [They believed a shifty talking snake,
    Ate the verboten fruit,
    And were cast out, to fend for themselves,
    God being quite surprised at their sin…]

    (Poem inspired by Dawkins)
  • PoeticUniverse
    The God of Irreducible Complexity

    “Hello, Austino; it’s time for more perplexity,
    For I am now the God of Irreducible Complexity.”

    “That you are, being the unmade All,
    And so it shall become your downfall.”

    “Eh? I’m never to be at all?”

    “Your believers have given You some fine new clothes:
    But Intelligent Design is falsely based, God knows,
    On Irreducible Complexity—
    So I still recognize You as the God of ID.”

    “That I am is what I really am now.”

    “Well, Darwin said long ago that his theory
    Would break down if Irreducible Complexity
    Were shown to be true, and yet
    No proposal has ever stood up to the analysis.”

    “Still, here I am, Mr. A, alive merely by possibility,
    Myself indeed quite complex, even irreducibly,

    “For “I am the be all and end all—the Prime Maker,
    And so I keep tabs on every form and splinter
    Of the Universe, planning its every constituent
    That I designed. So then, simple I am NOT.

    “Yes, man, I am an extremely complicated System,
    Yet I have no parts, for then My parts that stemmed
    Would be even more fundamental than Me!”

    “Yes, ‘God’, if You existed you would surely be
    Very very very complex, irreducibly so…”


    “…So, by the Creationist Theory, such as it must be,
    You cannot be explained except by a larger ID.”

    “I’m falling…”

    “…Into the hole that they dug for you.”
  • PoeticUniverse
    The God of the Gaps

    Yet another Theity appeared, out of the mist.

    “I am the God of the Gaps, of all those missed.
    I Myself personally fill in all the gaps withstanding,
    In the present-day knowledge of non understanding,

    “Albeit a very large and unwarranted assumption,
    But I surely do fill them all in—via the fiat lent
    To Me by the creationist’s fine endorsement.”

    “These gaps shrink as science advances anew.”

    “And so there is less and less for Me to do.”

    “What worries me is not so much that You
    May be eventually laid off, having nothing to do,
    But that those of Religion think it is a virtue
    To be satisfied with not understanding a quandary;
    Enigmas drive scientists on—they exult in mystery.”

    “True, My believers exult in mystery
    Remaining as mystery and so they go no further,
    But it keeps Me from being history!
    They worship all these evolutionary gaps as being Me.”

    “With no justification?”

    “We have a ‘get out of jail free’ card—a vocation;
    It’s an immunity to
    The rigorous proofs of science;
    We just claim by the ‘say so’.
    All must respect that stance.”

    “You lead a charmed life then,
    One with no faults,
    But You seek ignorance
    In order to claim victory by default,
    As a weed thriving in the gaps
    Of science’s fertile fields.

    “Scientists rejoice in (temporary)
    Uncertain yields,
    Whereas You halt all inquiry.”

    “I remain as a mystery.”

    “You’re the same God
    Of Intelligent Design assumed—
    Now known by a much more
    Desperate nom de plume.”

    “I repeat that I intervene
    To fill the evolutionary gap.
    I even alter DNA.”

    “We could check the evidence for that.
    We researchers fill the gaps in the fossil record.”

    “Then there are twice as many gaps. Absurd.”

    “I’d laugh, but I know You’re not joking.”

    “No joke. Try what we’ve been smoking.
    Lack of 100% complete documentation
    Of Evolution means that I aid its motion.”

    “‘God’, that is not a good default stance.”

    “It’s an unknown happenstance.”

    “So do we let criminals go
    Because we don’t have a video
    Of their every intermediate foot step
    To and from the lawless event?”

    “No, of course not, but we now have great worry
    About our precariously perched gappy theory.

    “Also, you made a typo—it’s a God default stance,
    Certified by nothing more than proclamation
    Of Our Bull of Decree covering all instantiation.”

    “An edict, huh.”

    “Why not, duh.”

    “It was also once avowed that an Evil Spirit,
    One that You Yourself allowed to exist,
    Produced physical illnesses, on us weighing,
    But, thank God—just an old saying—
    That scientists persevered, and still do,

    “Such as finding out the immune system’s zoo—
    Our defense against the non evil spirits
    Of germs, viruses, and bacterial fits.”

    “Yes, agreed; that claim was dead wrong; take pills,
    But evil spirits still cause the nonphysical mental ills
    That are called sins and bad thoughts,
    Even crimes of wills.”

    “Still trying to halt scientific inquiry,
    I see, for the burning.
    Mental lapsing ‘sins’
    Stem from upbringing, wrong learning,

    “And/or low serotonin and
    Such imbalances, needing cures,
    Not to mention the differences in cultures,

    “Such as other religions
    Causing a problem of stability,
    For people think this undermines
    Their own belief’s credibility.”

    “Okay, I give up for now, AustinTorn. Be.
    Go on with your work, with My blessing,
    To discover important truths about reality,
    But some fossils are evidently missing!”

    “Only a tiny fraction of corpses fossilize;
    However, not even a single fossil guy
    Has shown up in the wrong geological stratum;
    How’s that for absolutely no erratum?”

    “Well… it’s sad for Me, but true.
    I’d still love to find wrong a few,
    Like a fossil rabbit in the Precambrian.
    I’d have planted one there if I existed then.”

    “Dream on. Lazy reasoning is all that’s behind
    These declarations of the irreducible complexity kind.”

    “Yes, but all this ignorance, for sure,
    Of the possible steps of Nature
    Has kept Me forever alive,
    Allowing Me to ever thrive.”

    “And has just as soon forgotten You, in truth,
    But for those sustaining your being without proof.”

    “Wait, what about an arch of bricks?
    I’ll try to use this one as a trick.

    “Pull one away and the arch falls apart;
    It cannot survive the subtraction of a part,
    So how then was it built in the first place?
    With this insight, I can win the human race.”

    “By scaffolding, the same as seen in Evolution.”

    “I was afraid that would be the solution.”

    With that, the holely God of the Gaps separated
    And nearly evaporated
    To become a discontinuity Himself,
    But the creationists gave Him help
    By trying to hold Him together
    With their ditch efforts.

    (Yes, ‘gapping’ still goes on, it seems.
    When the argument first gathered steam,
    There were but a few transitional forms known,
    Although good ones, enough for the idea to own,

    One being the bridge to vertebrates
    And another the bridge to flying creatures.
    But there are many more now, a wide range,
    So then it is the data that has changed.

    These ‘gap’ arguments were already down
    To the faint hope that scientists, as clowns,
    Wouldn’t find any more natural explanations;
    But the finds were the most inevitable situations.

    Creationists yet remain at the pointward
    Of not being able to ‘push forward’,
    So all that’s left to is push backward,

    Albeit at the firmly established fact words
    Of evolution. Even the Pope concedes this
    But tries to salvage the faith and solve,
    By saying that the mind was not at all involved.)

    “In the darkness I alit from the Wiz,
    And tried to make sense of this world of His.
    Now I’ve found the answer to life’s dark quiz:
    One must live this life by what light there is.”
  • Michael Zwingli
    @T Clark, don't know if you have ever read this one (I'd be surprised, since it is fairly well known), but it's long been a favorite of mine. It is a statement about human nature thought processes, and interactions.

    A Poison Tree

    I was angry with my friend;
    I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
    I was angry with my foe:
    I told it not, my wrath did grow.

    And I waterd it in fears,
    Night & morning with my tears:
    And I sunned it with smiles,
    And with soft deceitful wiles.

    And it grew both day and night.
    Till it bore an apple bright.
    And my foe beheld it shine,
    And he knew that it was mine.
    And into my garden stole,
    When the night had veild the pole;
    In the morning glad I see;
    My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

    - William Blake
  • PoeticUniverse
    The Deity

    Another God appeared, a mere Deity,
    Meaning no intervention, so He’s not a Theity,
    And thusly said, “Forget the Theity solution.
    I am the Smart God who seeded Evolution.

    “It was I that set the whole universal notion
    And all of life’s evolution into motion;
    That was My elegant and foreseeing way
    Of creating the kind of life that would stay.”

    “I thought You were all powerful;
    Why not just make 20-40 million species,
    All fully formed, as immutable as Thee,
    Along with their usable natural habitats,

    “For this is how most Gods would do it.
    What energy loss could that be to You?
    Your infinity could all this in an instant do.”

    “I’m not so Great, plus, since Evolution is too stable
    For some creationists to scoff at, as a fable,
    They have assigned the job to Me, the Creator,
    As all of Nature’s natural Instigator,

    “Because they must take retreat from the first ID God
    Who zooms souls into humans at birth—it’s so odd.
    So, now I am not a Theity any more of proof,
    And thus I must ever remain aloof.

    “Of course, now I have very little to do,
    And so I am not much needed, true,
    For I can’t even muddle with their lives;
    They are all stuck now with their wives.

    “I might really just as well retire,
    For I am superfluous and tired.”

    “Well, You’re still kind of close to our Universe,
    Not completely outside it, the place the worst,
    As I suppose your successor will have to be placed,
    Absolutely, totally invisible to the human race.

    “At least You made some
    Basic primordial substance,
    And foresaw the billion years
    Of combinatorial chance,

    “Predicting every turn,
    Or at least knowing that something neat
    Might probably come out of it,
    Which was still quite a feat.”

    “Thank you, but it was nothing.”

    “On the contrary—I say verily—
    You’re the Super Scientist,
    An Engineer Par Excellence—
    The Ultimate Inventor of All Time—
    Much better than than the old God of ID.”

    “Yes, I am a Scientist, making all that’s real—
    I Had to be, but it was really no big deal.”

    “You’re too modest.”

    “It was just some little quarks,
    And some electrons that I sparked,
    And some forces that arose,
    As reality was composed.”

    “But look what became of its simplicity—
    Through its stages, to astounding complexity,
    Over billions of years of circumstances;
    We’ve traced the composites to simple substances.”

    “Well, um, it did really take that long for My intention,
    By some coincidence, the same as that for evolution;

    “However, I guess I’m just as surprised as you, frown,
    That when some examine substance and get down
    To these simple subatomic levels of unadorned things,

    “That they then take a giant leap back, of all things,
    To the composite complexity of Me, the Ultimate.”

    “Isn’t complexity a much higher product
    Of combination upon combination,
    And thus not lower than simplicity itself?”

    “Yes, it would seem so; that’s a near empty shelf.”

    “Then I suppose You’re some Great Alien Scientist, odd,
    Highly evolved from somewhere, but not really God.”

    “True, and you, Austin, as a scientist,
    Should seek what underlies the all,
    Not some Great Complexity who oversees it,
    For that’s for what the theory calls.”

    “Wise thoughts.”

    “The best that can’t be bought.”

    “Well, whatever on the alien thing of it,
    But the creationists are not keen on scientists,
    For scientists regard the honest seeking after truth
    As a supreme virtue beyond all reproof.

    “If they ever found out…”

    “Yikes, they know not what they have made Me.
    As a Scientist Myself, I truly value honesty
    And skepticism over the dishonestly faked beliefs,
    Those that only seem to bring Rolaid’s relief.”

    “The Founding Fathers of America liked You,
    Although some of them, as Thomas Jefferson too
    Were outright non theists, many seeing You as a Deity
    Who just started things up,
    never interfering with reality.”

    “Funny how President Bush’s and Trump's America sings,
    Straying so oppositely from its humble beginnings.”

    “Not to mention that some the world’s peoples, really,
    Are squandering their precious time
    Worshiping a Theity, and sacrificing to Him,
    Begging, fighting, and dying for Him,

    “Even threatening the world with its destruction.”

    “What a waste.”

    “Are you real?”

    “No, I am but a figment of imagination, see,
    But some really do like harmless old Me.”

    “So what’s really fundamental?”

    “The real fundamentals, just below
    What you now call ‘fundamentality’,
    Have always existed—the quantum reality.”

    “There’s perhaps no time of ‘forever’
    At that level for Your ‘always’ ever.”

    “True, they just are, and had to be—the possible,
    For a state of absolute nothing is indeed impossible.”
  • the affirmation of strife

    I see you like Stevens, have you read "Sunday Morning"? I wonder what you think of it. I'm just stumbling into philosophy here, so I'm missing a lot of background as yet. I took one elective in undergrad and then I've been trying to read things when I get time. I've found a weird kind of comfort in thinking about existentialism, of all things. I saw part of Sunday Morning quoted in Reginster's "Affirmation of Life" (a Nietzsche interpretation):

    She says, “But in contentment I still feel
    The need of some imperishable bliss.”
    Death is the mother of beauty; hence from her,
    Alone, shall come fulfilment to our dreams
    And our desires. [...]
    Is there no change of death in paradise?
    Does ripe fruit never fall? Or do the boughs
    Hang always heavy in that perfect sky,
    Unchanging, yet so like our perishing earth,
    With rivers like our own that seek for seas
    They never find, the same receding shores
    That never touch with inarticulate pang?

    Looks like a fairly straightforward naturalist (?) anthem:

    Why should she give her bounty to the dead?
    What is divinity if it can come
    Only in silent shadows and in dreams?
    Shall she not find in comforts of the sun,
    In pungent fruit and bright, green wings, or else
    In any balm or beauty of the earth,
    Things to be cherished like the thought of heaven?

    But the last stanza goes a bit wild:

    We live in an old chaos of the sun,
    Or old dependency of day and night,
    Or island solitude, unsponsored, free,
    Of that wide water, inescapable.
    Deer walk upon our mountains, and the quail
    Whistle about us their spontaneous cries;
    Sweet berries ripen in the wilderness;
    And, in the isolation of the sky,
    At evening, casual flocks of pigeons make
    Ambiguous undulations as they sink,
    Downward to darkness, on extended wings.

    Can't quite pin that down. Ah well, I'm easily entertained by the lyricism :)
  • Varde
    Security and power, an imbalanced scale.

    'Seventh' serenade, non-singular set, arranged. The concise view of knowledge from the perfect angle.
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