The way you think/it is – #poetry

The way you think it is is not 
the way it is at all:
We see through a glass darkly;
we barely see beyond the veil.

The doors of our perception dimmed
by dullness of the daily grind
sometimes a chink in the armour of ages
shows us the light within, behind.

There are more things in heaven and earth
and countless earths unknown
than e’er were glimpsed by humankind;
than e’er we conceived since our minds were born.

If birth is but a sleep and a forgetting, what
made fatuous sunbeams toil
to break earth’s sleep at all?

Is it that we die into awakening
Is it that we rise after the fall?

I have no answer to these questions, 
thinking only serves to provoke, more and more
but sometimes when I tune out of my thinking
I catch a glimpse of Blake’s immense world of delight
closed by my senses five

What a beautiful depthless dream and mystery
to think, to feel and breathe:
To simply live.

About this poem

Earthweal’s weekly challenge this week called for ‘A Hallowed Moondance,’ which this is not, or at least I don’t think it is. But I’m linking it up nonetheless, as this poem was born out of host Brendan’s recounting of the Oran myth, which I found completely mesmerising. You can read it over at Earthweal. The freshly-exhumed St Oran’s words form the beginning of this poem. Thank you, Brendan, for providing the inspiration.

I have borrowed so many lines from other poems and writings in this patchwork that I’ve italicised them. Here are my citations below:

  • ‘Through a glass, darkly.’ 1. Corinthians 13:12 (King James Bible)
  • ‘If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.’ William Blake, from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. (1793) Aldous Huxley took the phrase ‘The Doors of Perception’ as the title of his 1954 essay about his experiences with mescaline.
  • ‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,/Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’ Shakespeare, Hamlet, 1.5.174-175. Jorge Luis Borges also wrote a short story called ‘There Are More Things’ about a monster encountered in a labyrinthine house.
  • Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
    The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
    Hath had elsewhere its setting
    And cometh from afar

    From Wordsworth’s ‘Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood’ (1804)
  • ‘O what made fatuous sunbeams toil/To break earth’s sleep at all?’
    From Wilfred Owen, ‘Futility.’ (1918)
  • ‘How do you know but every bird
    that cuts the airy way
    Is an immense world of delight,
    closed by your senses five?’
    William Blake, from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.

I will also be linking to dVerse Open Link Night/Open Mic Night, where we will be reading our poems this evening. I hope to see you there!

35 thoughts on “The way you think/it is – #poetry

Add yours

  1. You have drawn from wide reading here Ingrid. I did notice the subtle rhyming…… Unfortunately I will still be tucked in bed at dVerse open mic time. Don’t go all shy and tongue-tied…..

  2. “What a beautiful depthless dream and mystery
    to think, to feel and breathe:
    To simply live.”

    What a beautiful journey this poem is. I feel like you and Ron are on similar paths of thought today. This is philosophical connecting the mystery in essence of life, birth, and death. How eerie that just last night I had a dream similar to this where after death, I instead retained the knowledge of my previous life. It turned into a nightmare after that, sort of. Hahaha.

    “The way you think it is is not
    the way it is at all…”

    I think this describes the poem and life best. There are different perspectives, experiences, and anomalies to consider. We may be surprised to find out what truly awaits at the end of that tunnel, but only time will tell. An excellent poem here, Ingrid, with such fascinating use of literary history to guide this piece.

    1. Thank you, Lucy. Haha, funny that it became a nightmare once you remembered your previous life. I’m sure it was nice and peaceful up to that point!

      I read just after Ron on the Open Link Night and I think our poems fit well together.

  3. I really loved hearing you read this. I would hear it differently in my head (with my accent, and not yours), and I really loved hearing it in your voice. Those final lines are wonderful.

    1. Thank you so much, Merril: the rhythm might be lost if not read with my accent, so I hope that came through. I’m not used to reading out loud but enjoyed the experience!

  4. It was amazing to hear yours directly after Ron’s … and the philosophy inside. The use of the Bible quotation also reminded me of that Bergman movie “Through a glass darkly” … it might be something to connect to as well

  5. It was lovely to see and hear you again at the open mic this evening, Ingrid, and I recognised most of the quotes woven into your poem. The rhyming is subtle, and the pace is steady, like a long walk with a philosopher. I especially enjoyed the lines:
    ‘The doors of our perception dimmed
    by dullness of the daily grind
    sometimes a chink in the armour of ages
    shows us the light within, behind.’

  6. Love this especially; “The doors of our perception dimmed by dullness of the daily grind sometimes a chink in the armour of ages shows us the light within, behind.” 🙂 It was wonderful to hear you read at the Live event.

  7. The greatest gift of all is to be alive and to know we’re alive. You articulated this well in your poem, Ingrid. Nice to hear you read it tonight.

  8. I love the way you’ve turned your meditation on life into a call and response with writing that also engages in the same struggle to make sense of it all. Beautiful . (K)

  9. Reading Oran’s words from the grave at the outside was a very special thrill for me, and the weaving you’ve done with parallel sources to me says that literature is deeply alive and resonant with singing darkness. The dream is closest in poetry, and the ancient oral literature is most audible there. Loved this, thanks for for brining it to earthweal. – Brendan

  10. A great poem Ingrid. Your contemplations are very well suited to our times. We look at death as a terrible loss, but it just may be a step into more than our finite minds could ever imagine!
    Dwight

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