Saturday, August 11, 2007

Envy, Part I

CLIMBER: My friend, today we saw a flame ascend.
No, not that. No-one would, I think, offend
A sense or taste, to say they saw not one
But more, a whole sun of flames, a flaming sun,
Go burning round a solar ring tonight.
What skill! Unearthly skill, unearthly bright!
Hot eloquence and wit, and humour too,
A brave unswerving urge to say what’s true,
Deeply true and truly deep. And so clear!
A standard orbit stays in higher air:
Strange to enter depths as well, sending lights.
But what is this? For all the lofty heights
I saw today, my spirits are not lifted.
The heights of others bring me low. Gifted,
That’s the thing to be, brilliant. Enough
Is said of jealousy and greed, enough
To make my sickness plain. But what’s the cure?
How can one who knows, and knows for sure,
That every job his mind can slowly do
Is done with greater pace, in fewer moves,
By someone else – how happy can he be?
(The plight of normal minds, redundancy,
Is double-edged. A deficit of skill:
A surplus to demand. If books could kill..)
A mind like syrup, slow-poured and dense.
A lack of speed, but quite enough to sense
Its own slowness. It’s worse to know than have
A love of wisdom, but an arid love
Unfed by streams of running wit,
But earnestness and pride, mud and grit.
Dark sights, and these are what the suns reveal:
High lights, highlighting fog. But this appeal
Is not an aimless thing. I train my ills
On you, my friend, to claim whatever pills
You give and know or own, to lift my pain.

RAMBLER: Well, well. A fine speech, well-declaimed,
As lurid in the lows as in the peaks.
(And a strange speech indeed, from one who speaks
So well.) Now listen well, and soon you’ll find
More syrup in your words than in your mind...

to be continued…


Andrea said...

Fantastic poem! Due to some technical glitch (never trust a computer) I hadn't realized it was that length, and there's a part two to come. I have a fondness for long poems, though the longest I've reached myself is around the 100 odd line mark. With long poems I guess there is perhaps more opportunity for self indulgence but they do show how far an idea can go. Nobody writes epics anymore! Maybe they do and I just don't know about them. The long poem was a real nineteenth century form, I guess. Whether or not the epic has any place in the 21st century is a question I sometimes find myself pondering. Could it have a place? What form would it take? Would there be an audience for it? I don't know, but it is a question that intrigues me.

Mike B said...

Hello. This may be the end of this particular poem; or at least, it will be some time before I get around to writing the other parts. Until you try it yourself, you do not know how hard it is merely to rhyme, in a sufficiently non-cheesy way, for twenty or thirty lines. I am full of admiration for the slightly mad people who wrote epics.

Possibly I will just skip the poem part and write the rest of the dialogue in plain prose.

I don't know much about the long poems of the nineteenth century. But I know that it would be hard to write an epic that did not have a plot, something to hold it all together. And the modern long poems I have read seem to me to be determined to avoid any hint of plot, of a clear structure-giving device.

Andrea said...

Yes, it's true about the line between genius and madness being a very fine one. Well, I look forward to the next part if you decide to write it. These things take time, especially with a rhyme structure. I admire rhyme a lot but in practice it is very time consuming and there is always the slight worry that it's going to be cheesy but the results make it worth persevering with. Saying that, I have yet to write a long poem that rhymes but it's an ambition. The long poems of the nineteenth century are among my favourites. What I like most about them apart from their melodiousness is that storytelling aspect, and that is certainly what makes epics successful too.