Pure Focus

Summum Bonum

ALL the breath and the bloom of the year in the bag of one bee:
All the wonder and wealth of the mine in the heart of one gem:
In the core of one pearl all the shade and the shine of the sea:
Breath and bloom, shade and shine, --wonder, wealth, and--how far above them--
Truth that's brighter than gem,
Trust, that's purer than pearl,--
Brightest truth, purest trust in the universe--all were for me
In the kiss of one girl.

Robert Browning

This is what poetry can do. Draw the attention quickly to a message with microscopic effect.

I remember once having a discussion with Waterloo Region's poet laureate Rienzi Crusz. He knew of my budding interest in writing, and he gave an admonition something like this:

'This is the beauty of poetry. You have the delicious freedom to write whatever you want, in whatever form, at whatever length, loping along at whatever rhythm and intended to cause whatever effect. It may not all be marketable these days, but no matter, you are enjoying a tremendous release and journey. People with a sense of metaphor and imagination will be happy to accompany you.

Do not be in a panic to publish in hard copy. This is difficult, and particularly in the Canadian scene. The promotional effort is three times as taxing as the creative push. Today's poetry raises many more questions than it does answers, with a disappointing sense of futility. That is not usually my kind of poem.'

Thank you for that, Rienzi. (I have appreciated your images and stories which span the distance and difficulty of relocation from idyllic Sri Lanka to snow-bound Waterloo.) I too have had such observations. It is often similar to the imagined visit to the psychologist where the practitioner says, "Yep, this is what you have. It has all the signs. I don't know what to tell you to do about it, but perhaps it helps just to have a name for the thing and to get it out in the open."

Fat lot of help! Where are the epic stories, the great loves and struggles, the noble characters, the piercing critiques, the breath-taking retreats into nature, the well-paced frolic through clever silliness or punch lines, the partially successful outreaches to touch the hem of the garment of God?

There was a time and a place wherein the poet was regarded as the community sage, and yes, physician. He had the ear of Kings and Governors. He represented community conscience and hope, and could determine either the success or shipwreck of a life or ideal.

Now poets seem to wander through dark caverns, gladly offering a sweaty hand of comfort to whomsoever will...


  1. Thank you for your sweaty hand of comfort.
    Fellow wanderers through dark caverns unite !


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