I’m delighted to be supporting actively the Kelli Russell Agodon and Donna Vorreyer blogger poet Revival Tour. Everything’s explained by my old friend and fellow contributor Dave Bonta so I shall simply post accordingly.
Starting with a double header. First, a straight poem. At the conclusion of our study of ‘King Lear’, my English teacher, the poet Brian Merrikin Hill, posed to our 6th Form English class a question. Given the extremities of suffering through which Lear had to pass in order to approach that most fundamental of understandings, what it is to be a human being, which of the two polarised existential states would you select: that of the wise but unhappy Socrates or that of the ignorant but untroubled pig
AFTER READING ‘KING LEAR’
The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.
“What would you rather be?”
our teacher asked us.
“Socrates, wise but unhappy,
or happy but ignorant pig?”
The gum-chewing rockers
and pony club belles all opted
for pig (although ‘poodle’
was mooted by Katie).
Philosopher poet, I straddled
the moment, caught between
hope and despair. But of course
I chose Socrates – modish
as ever – and smugly I carried
the weight of my burden
into the glorious mess of
my future. Now, with a view
from the hilltop of more hills
but fewer and steeper, it’s time
to take stock. Is Socrates
wiser or simply unhappy?
Wisdom or rubies? The choice
academic so late in the game.
Back then I was clothed
in such confident motley –
the badges, the denim, the blue
shaded lenses (the silk and
the hide and the wool of
conformity). Now I am closer
to naked than ever – poor,
bare and forked and alone
on this hilltop. But in between
one breath and another,
the gap between heartbeats,
I seem to be happy, here
where the pig hunts for truffles
and Socrates dreams.
Several years ago, as an idle exercise in Larkin-esque parody, I wrote a poem called IN PARENTHESES. It rolled around in the back of an e-drawer somewhere ever after until, in search of potential song lyrics out of rhymed poems, I dug it out and sent it to my musical oppo Steve Moorby for possible addition to the rapidly accumulating body of songs we were writing together for our acoustic/electric trio Moorby Jones…
(Words: Dick Jones / Music: Steve Moorby)
From the fastness of our dreams
where no clouds obscure the view,
we put aside our petty schemes
and envy deeds that others do.
Is there more to life than this?
we ask at break of every day.
The morning call, the goodnight kiss,
the foot upon the primrose way?
Safe or sorry, choice is clear:
not pig in sty but Socrates.
Or yield to ignorance and fear,
and live life in parentheses.
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