not all men are dead,

July 31, 2008 at 6:36 pm | Posted in poetry, writing | 23 Comments
Tags: , , , , ,

yet, there is a sudden owning in the silence
between shell bursts,
he hurriedly sketches who knows
how long a few simple lines,
an animal,
curled in on itself,
no longer shivering nor clad in mud
but liberated from the horror
in an act of selfless sacrifice
not of his life but of his morality
his civilisation.
They are suspended transcendent
in that moment,
the artist and the man,


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  1. This immediately made me think of “Naming Of Parts” by Henry Reid, but it’s one of my favourites, so I think of it at any excuse. Then I thought of Henry Moore’s drawings of people sleeping in the underground during the blitz. And all the time my mind was trying not to rush off on tangents, and stay focussed on the poem.

    I think it’s one of the most difficult things to achieve and sustain, that disconnect between the person and the recorder – and at the same time, it is so tempting to escape by letting the artistic impulse take over, so that we experience things at a remove.
    I love Henry Moore, thankyou, Z. I left the reference to the poem but I edited out the link cos it went to a site covered in spangly flashing adverts for emoticons and other nearly popups. But the poem is great and people can google if they want to read it. And I agree with your second paragraph entirely, thanks for the thought and the mind linkages, they are great,

  2. I take it you are comparing Wilfred Owen’s WWI poetry to the act of cave painting. Am I wrong? It is quite an insight
    Thanks, Paul. Yes I was trying to tie those two together. Noone is ever wrong,

  3. Is this a naked poem?
    hello, Amuirin, I think in this one I am wearing a WW1 uniform,

  4. It is the moment – across all art formed with passion – when you are transfixed by that which you are creating. There is a guilt that you are prostituting it to a certain extent but then you have to push yourself on to realise you are working with it, not against. I think that moment is the hardest to work through sometimes and takes much self-belief or maybe a fervent desire to acknowledge and be acknowledged. Or maybe I’m speaking clap-trap, haha. I would like to see this moulded some more – I think it is a seed that could flourish.
    You never speak claptrap, Mary. That is an excellent insight. I shall ponderate the possibilities of further tinkerings, thankyou,

  5. Fantastic. Absolutely beautifully portrayed, and captivating imagery. I personally love Wilfred Owen’s poetry; and this one reminded me of “Dulce et Decorum est”, in which he ends,

    …you would not not tell with such high zest,
    To children ardent for some desperate glory,
    The old lie: Dulce et Decorum est
    Pro patria Mori

    Fantastic work. On an issue and theme that is close to my heart – anti war… (and those three dots, as you said, might just be a drumroll to salute your word prowess!)
    Fantastic, thanks Sumedh.

  6. Thanks everybody. I fear I am getting a reputation for being deliberately obscure. I was thinking that the soldier, as Wilfred Owen and other war poets have pointed out sacrifices not only his life but his humanity or morality in the things he is required to do. He becomes an amoral agent of someone else’s will like an animal or a caveman. This is similar to a certain type of artist who also must transcend the idea of good and evil in order to stand outside the world and also to Neitzsche’s ideas in Beyond Good And Evil on the necessity to go beyond social constructs of morality and so on.
    Go away, most verbose one. The poems describe themselves perfectly. They are what they are, no need for you to pedantically point out how clever you are all the time, go away,

  7. in a forward voice with a tone of depth twentythousand leagues, you nailed it, and its odd but nailing something could be a strikingly ‘amoral’ act while there could be no transcendence w/o it,(ie nailed to the cross) it’s as true as an old well giving water w/no strings attached, liberating as a bridge between an island and a mainland and best of all compassion
    between the lines
    Thanks, Tipota. That is a wonderful comment too, your mind is an amazing place,

  8. thing about Honour is indefinability .. if Heart and Soul is “there” who could say nay? If they are hoodwinked “down here” – as is often the case – does this negate Honesty of Intent? i don’t think so, though it makes things damn hard to talk about sometimes … which is where your words come in .. gorgeously so …

    “taking sides” is … impossible? all too easy?

    and really what it is … is pain and blood and god-forgive-me’s … life …

    “in that moment,
    the artist and the man,”

    IS ….

    and so the loop goes on …

    wonderful, wonderful poetry Paul …

  9. oops .. sorry .. forgot to log in *doh*

    also wish we could edit on here .. ohhh my,
    the grammatical errors LOL
    ARE not IS ..

    still gorgeous poetry dear Paul …
    thankyou, Shell, your name is a perfect one, there is an infinity in a Shell which whispers the sea and you must not worry about typos here,

  10. in the obscurity of morality we find ourselves yes no.. it is a delightful read filled with a few places in time i am sure we can all relate to… is it not good to place an opening for one to fall into.. there is nothing so pure as an artist creating and the found man writing… yes no
    well yes and no, haha, you swirl me round with your sudden rain of compliment comments. you are amazing,

  11. breathtaking. love this.
    Thankyou, Lissa!

  12. This gave me goosebumps (plus I was pleased I understood it – yes, I know, the small things make me happy). And now I fear I’ve made you start explaining yourself when you don’t want to – sorry!!
    No, no need to apologise, you were right and I am listening to you.

  13. Oh so beautiful…more please

  14. My friend, you ARE obscure. lol But that is one of the things I love about you. Your writing is leading and perhaps misleading, but always in the throw. I read you and I feel happy. What greater compliment could one receive? My dear friend, I think of you often. Your pal, F.
    F.G., I think of you often, rage on, my friend,

  15. All these beautiful God- I am left with nothing to say that has not already been written/spoken other than…the poem made me glad to be an artist.
    Thankyou, Randall. You are an artist. Mad as a hatter but wonderful with it,

  16. haha, Paul, “Go away, most verbose one. The poems describe themselves perfectly. They are what they are, no need for you to pedantically point out how clever you are all the time, go away,”

    i love your explanations when you decide to give them but they need none. its part of the puzzle deciphering the smartness in the poem. so it becomes much more of a cryptogram at times. it just makes people come back.
    woohoo, as long as it is not against their will, haha, thankyou again. It is this line we all walk I think, Mrs Ott. A balancing act,

  17. …all sorts of silences. I love each one.
    thankyou, Tina,

  18. I agree with Paul… Go away, verbose one, I read your stuff three times before I think I get it, and I like it that way 🙂 ….

    I hate war this makes me feel miserable… But then morality is overrated anyway 😦
    I agree with you, Mental Mist. Thankyou for your gracious comment,

  19. loved it. transcending. beautiful.
    Thankyou, Harmonie. Get better soon,

  20. a moment very effectively captured,
    Thankyou, Juliet,

  21. Reminds me of Kevin Carter, the photographer who took a picture of the vulture next to a staving child. An amazing and powerful picture, but he was severely criticised for taking the picture rather than immediately rushing in to help (he did apparently help afterwards).
    Ahh, yes, Lirone. I know that story and that is exactly the kind of thing I was alluding to, thankyou.

  22. It takes us into so many directions!

  23. Dave Eberhardt (poured blood on draft files with him in 1967- the “Baltimore 4” action) (he served w owen in ww 1- he served w pierre in the battle of borodino- he served w homer? homer? in the battle of the aegean sea? the southern ocean theatre? the southern seas? the southern seize?)

    “Hi from the Unknown Soldier. I threw away my rifle and went swimming.

    You may have seen me slipping away from the column. Shsssssh.

    If in a desert “theatre” I leave to go look at the night sky with all its stars- Aldeberan (sp?), Rigel, Spica, Eta Carinae.

    I am a statue to the Noble Deserter in the park.”

    Want to join us? Then practice non-violence, resist war, and don’t forget to move to the left.

    Forgive them mother for they know not what they do.

    Heroes to follow? Tom Lewis, war resisters, Dan and Phil Berrigan,”Plowshares” activists, M. Gandhi, ML King, AJ Muste, Dorothy Day, Quakers, Norman Morrison, Rachel Corrie,

    Authors to read H Thoreau, Dalai Lama, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Wilfred Owen, Gary Snyder etc.

    feel free to read at any funeral/memorial- my best to all his friends and loved ones

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