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I Am

by Zettel 

Posted: 07 January 2018
Word Count: 240


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I Am
 
 
I am footprints in the snow
gone with the next onset of rain
Only memory then will know
I was here until it snows again
And then one day no foot will tread
no mark, no sign of presence made
So I must leave no words unsaid
No doubts unstilled, no debts unpaid
 
I am days of love; and all the years between
Lover, husband, father, friend
drawn to find out how words mean
our form of life to comprehend
This I know; first is deed, not idea
Action, choice, to be; not just pretend
To trust the truth of passion. To say - I am here
Struggle also honours means not just ends
 
I am as much what I say, as what I do
Thought transcends nerve, and cell, and blood
dare to face, embrace the new
to seek, if not always find, the good
All minds are other: our hearts must reach
To listen, hear, connect; language serves
My heart my restless mind must teach
to accept with grace, what deeds deserve
 
I am never all that I should be
But as life’s circles move me on
Grandfather now, I begin to see
It is we, not me, that makes all one
Love is letting go, not holding fast
If we cage the wild bird for too long
her love of freedom will not last
Dare to live, dare to doubt, when I am gone
 






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Comments by other Members



James Graham at 21:10 on 09 January 2018  Report this post
Apologies again for not commenting sooner. You are next in the queue!

James.

Zettel at 07:35 on 10 January 2018  Report this post
No probs James. No rush. 

Best
Z

James Graham at 20:35 on 11 January 2018  Report this post
I find this poem, at least in parts, quite difficult, and I think I need some clarification from you before commenting further. First of all, some strengths which the poem undoubtedly has. I like the way you have merged the personal and the philosophical – quite naturally for you, I suppose, as you are a philosopher. Your footprints in the snow idea works very well: to represent the ‘mark’ we make in our lives, or the impact we have or hope to have on those around us, as footprints in the snow is telling. The footprints are not only transient, their passing is determined by the seasons; and this evokes a preoccupation which we tend to develop as we get older: how many more seasons will I see? And I like the conclusion you reach:
So I must leave no words unsaid
No doubts unstilled, no debts unpaid

Words of reassurance, and words of encouragement – especially to the young – are some of the words we must say. It may not be possible to resolve every doubt, but we must try. Debts in the usual sense, credit cards and mortgages, will probably not be fully paid, but debts of other kinds, to people who have helped or supported us in friendship, can be ‘paid’. I suppose the rest of the poem says some of the things that must be said, though of all its wise precepts the one I like best is in the last line:
Dare to live, dare to doubt, when I am gone

Now, I said I need clarification. In the following lines, I understand the idea that what we do, and the choices we make, are more important than what we think or even talk about; but you lose me in saying we must ‘not just pretend/ To trust the truth of passion’. I wish I could say what it is that doesn’t get through to me, but I’m at a loss. Maybe when you explain it will seem obvious.
 
This I know; first is deed, not idea
Action, choice, to be; not just pretend
To trust the truth of passion.

In that ‘first is deed, not idea’ I wonder if there is by any chance a reference to Gerard Manley Hopkins, who writes in one of his most famous poems that every mortal being:
Selves - goes itself, myself it speaks and spells,
Crying What I do is me: for that I came."

I understand that this is derived from Duns Scotus, though in what sense exactly I don’t know.

The other lines which puzzle me – and again I can’t say why and will have to depend on you – are these:
                        language serves
My heart my restless mind must teach
to accept with grace, what deeds deserve

I always feel I need to understand a poem as fully as possible before suggesting any revisions. So I look forward to your reply.

James.


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