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by Zettel 

Posted: 21 July 2017
Word Count: 39

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Consciousness is
the only miracle
the rest is
silence night
Even life unknowing
beautiful and bright
lacks the gift
of sense
all is there
but light

No love
no passion
no becoming
no delight

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Comments by other Members

V`yonne at 18:02 on 22 July 2017  Report this post
I like this. I think it needs maybe spaces within it for the reader to think. Maybe it would work as couplets. Sometimes I think the sense could be clearer if capitals followed the sense rather than the line.

Even life
unknowing unknown

beautiful and bright
lacks the gift of sense

I'll look forward to a revision.

Zettel at 21:48 on 22 July 2017  Report this post
Thanks Oonah

Agree about capitals - amended. 

If if it was longer I think couplets would work. But this short I think I prefer to keep it as a unit. 

Best Z

Thomas Norman at 10:14 on 23 July 2017  Report this post
This is very intense writing and thoughtful writing. I have to agree with Oonah that it does need space to breathe and for the reader to contemplate the words. Yes it is short but I see no reason why that should preclude couplets. The thing I found difficult was the lack of punctuation. The reader is obliged to read at a fast rate and have no place to think. With a short intense poem; especially, there needs to be space. I feel that couplets would work very well, or if you are totally against them then some punctuation would be a second best.

It's a good and interesting poem which deserves paying attention to rather than zipping through it.

Hope I have not offended you.


V`yonne at 11:07 on 23 July 2017  Report this post
The revision reads much clearer. Works perfectly with that line break.

ronaldanne at 12:11 on 23 July 2017  Report this post
Brevity highlights the poem's impact.
The amount of thought required fit into such a small space is impressive.
The line break is a true improvement.
The lack of punctuation slows me down because I must concentrate on my understanding of the structure. With each reading that understanding is open to change as I continue to think about the meaning of the poem. In some poems the lack of punctuation requires the reader to do too much work for too little reward. Your poem offers the reader a payoff far more than commensurate with the work required to interpret the poem. The craft and meaning are intertwinded as they are in any poem worthy of the name. In my opinion you have written a finely crafted poem that exhibits your skill along with a deep understanding of the subject...Bravo!

James Graham at 21:11 on 23 July 2017  Report this post

Your first line is very striking, so much so that I felt after reading the poem that the rest is almost superfluous, or doesn’t quite match its depth.  I have more reservations about the poem than those members who have already commented, but I'll say more about that later.

Bear with me first while I reflect on that first line. Fancifully no doubt, I imagine an awakening of consciousness in a proto-human, who one day looks at his world and knows he is seeing it in a new way – sensing its beauty or its hostility, beginning to give it meaning. Or he has no idea what the Sun is or what makes the rain fall, but he wants to know. Consciousness is such a miracle because without it we cannot say the universe has meaning. Without conscious minds to perceive it, is there any point to the universe? Does it even exist?

These are philosophical questions, and you’re a philosopher but I’m not. They may be very amateurish. Still, that one line does trigger these thoughts – and more. For some reason I found myself imagining a different poem, which would end with that line. It would be less abstract than this one, perhaps describing trees – their foliage perhaps in transition from summer to autumn colours, outer branches ‘nodding’ in the breeze, individual leaves spinning as they sometimes do – then ending the poem on a thought that the trees don’t know any of this, and their beauty isn’t anything to do with them but is manufactured in the conscious mind. Thus: ‘Consciousness is the only miracle’.

The rest of the poem, as I understand it, says that ‘life unknowing’, that is living things that are not human, has no ‘gift of sense’, meaning (I think) no capacity for thought or feeling. It doesn’t experience those things you list at the end – love, passion, becoming, delight. It’s reasonable enough to expand your initial idea in this way, and the poem is still (as Thomas has said) very thoughtful, but I just feel that ‘Consciousness is the only miracle’ is a statement which carries such weight that what follows may be true enough but doesn’t have the same impact.

It’s for that reason I wondered if your first line could be placed in a different context, an observation of nature for example, which would serve as an illustration of that profound statement. You, the poet, look out at the natural world and recognise its beauty, its complexity, perhaps it apparent cruelty or destructiveness (I’m thinking of predators or storms), and reflect on the idea that nature has none of these attributes unless there are conscious minds to conceive of them.

I hope all of this makes sense to you. It would be interesting to know what you think. The whole thing can still be left open - if you prefer to leave the poem essentially as it is, I can see ways of improving it in terms of punctuation and spacing as already suggested, and perhaps also some rewording or rearrangement. Whatever you decide.


Zettel at 23:34 on 25 July 2017  Report this post
Thanks for all the very thoughtful and thought-provoking comments. I'll try to respond helpfully.

First punctuation: I generally try to avoid punctuation unles absolutely indispensible: and I try my best to make it dispensible as far as possible.  I like to think this is not affectation: because nothing irritates me more or distances me from a poem.  It is also asking a bit more of the reader and I know if one takes that too far it can really annoy.  That said: the main reason for trying to avoid it is the challenge that represents to make the sense arise from the rhythm of the words themselves;and that rhythm arising from the order and juxtapositon of the words one to another and their within-the-line order. I also rest heavily on line structure and whether the first word is lower or upper case: which is why Oona's initial comments were absolutely right. I had not been careful enough with my own method: and she was right to point it out and I was only too pleased to accept to make changes.

I take some comfort in the difference of response of Ronald and Norman though I do appreciate the lack of commas etc does ask more of the reader. As an example of what I am trying to do: I changed 'the rest is silent night' to 'the rest is silence night'. Apart from the importunate and totally bizarre resonance of the Christmas Carol; 'silent' as an adjective alters the rhythm - 'silent night' has a different rhythm from two nouns - 'silence night' and the differrence in rhythm derives from the difference in grammar. And of course there is a dfferent shade of meaning between the two; and the second gets closer to my objectives.  Yes it is possible to 'misread' 'silence night' as if it were intended as noun and adjective but of course one quickly, I hope, realizes that can't be the usage, meaning, intended because it would be a simple mistake.

James: as ever you 'get' the broader philosphical context I am preoccupied with.  I'd like to think that some of my poems are instinctive, intuitive emotional, even spiritually direct, responses to the beauty of the world, even the sense of 'mystery' that evokes. Such poems can become dreadfully didactic and simply don't 'fly' aesthetically, emotionally or Philosophically if one mixes up the abstract ideas with the visceral senses. Trying not to let these sometimes conflicting elements bog down the poem is a constant struggle and I am only too aware I don't always succeed.  However: I have commented before that when one reads Wittgenstein whose philosophical method is absolutely unique one is struck again and again by the way an idea, a conception, about the world, or even language, can resonate conceptually; so that it provokes new ideas, different, often conflicting thoughts; alters if you will, not so much ones perception of the world (of Nature, of beauty etc); but ones conception of it. Pompously perhaps: resonates in one's consciousness rather than ones senses.  These cannot of course ever be entirely separated: but derived from my long experience with the writings of Wittgenstein and his unique method; one frequently feels a sense of what I can only call a 'poetry of ideas'

If this isn't entirely fanciful, 'up-itself'' nonsense then this poem tries to resonate in the same sense: within ideas, consciousness as we might say.  It is too short, and 'allusive' to be even adequate as philosophy: some of the responses above however, most encouragingly, do suggest that just as a beautiful poem of Nature stimulates 'new eyes' of perception and sensation; then this short 'poem' seems to have stimulated thoughtfulness, perhaps to a tiny degree a new, or unfamiliar way of thinking. 

Truth be told James I would much rather have written a poem linking or expressing the ideas and conceptions of consciousness with the world of our senses and our appreciation of the beauty of the world. But that would necessarily be a much bigger challenge and a much 'bigger' poem.  Just as to subject the ideas in the poem to the rigorous arguments of philsophical analysis would take a greal deal more time and space - within which any sense of this being a 'poem' at all would be lost.

So with many thanks for the generous and incisive comments; and the time and thought put in to make and communicate them; which is. as always, much appreciated, I think it sort must stand as it is; for to develop some of the entirely valid suggestions would be to write a much longer, though perhaps rather better, poem.

As for being offended by any remarks made honestly and with good will - never.  As Bertrand Russell once perfectly expressed it:

"Always value intelligent dissent over passive agreement; for if you value intelligence,as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter."




Zettel at 23:36 on 25 July 2017  Report this post


The meaning in a poem
should not stand naked
but be clothed
by the heart
There are remarks that sow
and remarks that reap
And the philosopher said
One should write philosophy
as one writes a poem

Zettel at 09:00 on 26 July 2017  Report this post
Oh dear. Oh dear. As ever - too long; too long. Appologies: once an idea interests me I go overboard. 


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