Another man died … yesterday at peace.
Not the nameless soldier who died unknown.
Far from that, far from that in his release.
Time now that this rock becomes a corner stone;
an anchored turning-point that conquers doubt.
Time now that this voice, with its mellow twist,
is so preserved as a whispering shout
that resonates upon a rising fist:
What one man can endure … so can it be.
What one man can forgive … so too can we.
What one man encouraged … so can it be.
What one man imagined … so too can we.
. Now the corner stone … the rock of ages,
. Nelson Mandela … strong and courageous.
To the reader: Many things to many people; always an activist. Throughout Nelson Mandela’s long life he was a motivating energy; a source of inspiration to those who wanted to realise a dream. Being the personification of ‘we shall overcome’ meant his impact on social-order was breathtaking. His demanding relationship with illegitimate authorities and corrupt systems provides the key to his strength of character which ever sought the dignity of freedom and justice for all.
To the poet: One of a few biographical sonnets written around this time. Mostly, a singular contrast to the previous sonnet honouring the unknown soldier as a collective metaphor. The finished product bears the hallmarks of a frustrating editing process that almost worked; not completely convincing in the end. There are elements that I like: “the mellow twist … upon a rising fist” suggests a gentle strength without reference to aggression or untrammelled anger.
What we know of air is a Priestley sum;
makes an experimental masterpiece.
Through simple observation so we come
to learn from nature; wonders shall not cease:
that air might be exhausted then restored;
made stale and then repaired; broken then fixed.
Such are the problems science has explored,
mulled over, pondered on, and stood betwixt.
How so that the planet breathes, breath for breath,
exchanging one gas for another’s use?
How so that nature freshens the smell of death,
converts putrid soup into perfumed juice?
. Through unity all things are so divined.
. Make nothing separate as should be combined.
To the reader: Throughout life, Joseph Priestly (1733-1804) travelled an awkward, and often uncomfortable, path of self-discovery. A precocious child who absorbed knowledge with sponge-like thirst. A dissenting adult who, through deep faith, sought to unify humanity’s purposeful existence. A revered polymath constricted by dogma and intolerance; a disgruntled citizen. In sum, a brave soul who introduced the world to the deity of science and rational belief.
To the poet: Joseph Priestly was a great writer; a highly respected grammarian, alas it seems not a poet. My exposure to his masterful prosaic-skill was through his writing on the investigation of air; this kid knew how to write-up an experiment. The narrative style is intoxicating; refined and rugged… phlogisticated. The scientific brain exposed for his peers to pursue; and for all else to admire. Surely another canditate for membership of ‘The Science Class You Wish You Had…‘
To this point, there’s a statement of intent:
the sending of a message; the promise
to commit; it’s this sets the precedent,
this then becomes the line of sight, from this
all else is judged upon delivery.
Against what’s known, what’s been, new things are judged:
held account; tested for transparency;
valued for clarity … dismissed if smudged.
The purity of truth is honesty:
revered as the path to enlightenment;
it’s the well-spring of possibility;
a straight approach without impedement.
. For those who are driven by conviction,
. be not distracted by contradiction.
To the reader: Up to a point, most of us can hold opposing points of view without losing face or sleep. The internal debate over right and wrong, good and bad is instructive. Occasionally, gaps widen and curious differences become stark and polarised. Through choice, we abandon one idea for another and our personal conflict is resolved. Through good government, mature societies can do the same: we live with contradiction but not hipocracy.
To the poet: “Is the line concise on contradiction?” Unpacking, then reassembling a ten-syllable sequence created for poetic effect is a bit of a stretch; for reader and poet. On the way to a logical conclusion there are many distracting alternatives; rhyme being the most significant. As one rhyme demands another the margin of error widens and the meaningful target becomes less and less a possibility. You can feel it happening… but like bike and tree there’s a fatal attraction to disaster!