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What is; that is

by seanfarragher 

Posted: 29 May 2005
Word Count: 344
Summary: On the Nature of Matter After reading Shakespeare's LIII Sonnet
Related Works: Books from the Bible • Broken Photographs, Dutch Art and Time Machines • Broken Toy (revised 27 May 05) • Fountain of Youth • 

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What is; that is
On the nature of matter

Sonnet LIII William Shakespeare

“What is your substance, whereof are you made,
That millions of strange shadows on you tend?
Since every one hath, every one, one shade,
And you but one, can every shadow lend.”


What is; that is
when nothing pales
beneath the pressed fire
that swallows all
to make conception dear.

I was witness today, tonight
as perpetual bloom. It was
neither black nor red,
No color charmed to leak.

There was no race to pale
competition for breath.

A million shades of light
or ten exponents more
lift perfection as I rested
in your hands for mirth
and pleasure turned scarlet
while ships of suns designed
by only man and woman as
gods gather limbs to fornicate
with trees without deceit.

Here, long North River wall
my silver berry flowers bake
into iridescent ships of fate
where you have enclosed --
and I have opened with
the summary of all --
What is; that is.


I am not shark or clam.
I cannot open impossible laws
with crowbar or awl.
Beneath my skin my eyes caress
skeleton and frame for ocean’s world
as rain or dirt we were born.
Nothing dies today. No one will fall
asleep a loon arrested on its grave.
What is; that is.


Abandon long ride home;
take steps too short for vanity
or too distant for modesty to fall
down into your lewd teeth with
the bite of innocence, thin patience flared
before registered bloom of birth and arch of date--
What is; that is.


Do not lie about your years; make
certainty more actual than its mold.

What is; that is.


Simmer desire in perpetuity
extend wings to still sexual stakes;
cut and blend air with iron.
Drip foul oil upon the screw;
drive joints into
last ribald tale and when
you finally make truth,
when hands strike desperate
blows to make that small
death quiet when morality play
folds audience with petulant red lips--
what is, that is.


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Comments by other Members

laurafraser at 20:12 on 30 May 2005  Report this post
i like thi. a lot. it has a calmness and a peacefulness about it, bought on yby the melody of 'what is; that is." a simple statement, that makes powerful effects.

The last stanza is brilliant. Perfect. As is stanza 2. Wonderful images. Unique and special. More superb writing.

It is a joy to read your poems.


SmithBrowne at 16:17 on 31 May 2005  Report this post
Even if you had not mentioned the Shakespeare sonnet inspiration, I believe I would have suspected one. While reading this outloud, I was reminded of the Sonnets in sound and cadence -- you captured much of the 'feel' without recourse to archaic language, which is a difficult thing. The poem reads wonderfully smoothly, as always, which is an aural treat. Sorry that I am till too jet lagged to offer much more substantive commentary than "I like it a lot."



Beanie Baby at 22:06 on 31 May 2005  Report this post
Hi Sean.
This is very special. I love the "what is, that is" line, it has a delicious feel to it.

This is a cleverly worked piece and I too could see the Shakespeare connection. It also has the feel of the sea to it, the way it ebbs and flows.

Very beautiful.

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