Obscurity Masquerading as Profundity

Obscurity Masquerading as Profundity

At the risk of appearing to be a philistine,
A man ignorant of the difference between
High culture and tasteless vulgarity
I venture to suggest that sometimes
The advocates of refinement in the arts
Might seek to present their case
Enshrined in obscurity masquerading as profundity

Have you ever sat through a classical concert?
Where the cacophony of sound
Became an assault to your ears?
But you nodded enthusiastic agreement
When asked to acknowledge your appreciation
Or, in attending a new exhibition of sculpture
Muffle your laughter at the ludicrous display

Similarly the ballet, although demonstrating
Physical virtuosity, and artistic finesse
Might tax our imagination as to what
We are meant to decipher from the
Intricacies of movement
And nuances of shape and form
Presented for our delectation?

And so I could go on
Paintings selling at million dollar
Price tags. Wrestled over by the mega rich?
Such works would be a credit to any playgroup!
And finally, what about some arcane poetry?
Utterly impenetrable, fundamentally meaningless
But here you are bound to say – what does he know?

Don’t  his verses also come from the nursery?

Ken Fisher

Prosaic and Poetic

 

Prosaic and Poetic

Life’s journey is both prosaic and poetic
Prosaic in the sense that much of our daily walk
Is routine, dreary, mundane, even humdrum
Rather like a story written in uninspiring prose

However might life sometimes be considered
as poetic ?  Its events deemed imaginative
Creative, elegant, beautiful, inspirational
A narrative in finely crafted verse?

Perhaps for most of us life is both
Prosaic and poetic.  Two moods in tension
Entwined together as the days progress
Chiaroscuro of contrasting light and shade

Anyway who wants to live on the mountain top
Of heightened emotion, throbbing in poetic meter?
Better to endure with fortitude the tedium of the everyday
With timeous stimulus from poetry’s muse

Let’s simply be content with the daily round
Whose routines bring quiet satisfaction
Surprised by highlights of delight
Like poetry amidst pedestrian prose

Ken Fisher

500th Poem

500th Poem 

Sometimes in trying a poem to compose
I am filled with feelings of frustration
No new thoughts can I propose
Mind blank, devoid of inspiration

On other days ideas come teeming in
Cascading in profusion
From outside or sometimes deep within
No hesitation, no muddle or confusion

How to account for these opposing moods?
Why at times words readily are found
At others groping for my muse
Inspiration tightly bound

Ofttimes when no shining light has dawned
When no spark fires the imagination
And notion’s seed cannot be spawned
Page kept barren of proclamation

But in due time the muse returns
Muted voice strangely reawakened
Again with yearning the heart will burn
And taciturnity quickly forsaken

Thus o’er these years words shaped into verse
500 poems for your delectation
My thoughts before you I rehearsed
Grateful for your dedication

Ken Fisher

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If Typists Were Poets

If Typists Were Poets

[Reissued for National Poetry Day 2019]

If typists were poets what would be the effect?
Not a single ‘typo’ would you ever detect
The spelling and syntax all perfect would be
And correct punctuation I am sure you would see

But there’s more to a poem than neatly typed letters
If its words are intended to make us feel better
The emotions expressed or the ideas portrayed
Are greater than ciphers however displayed

So let’s never forget when to verse we resort
Lack of good grammar should not ever thwart
Our attempts to convey what comes from our heart
Our stumbling attempts to turn words into art

So if you aspire to be poet or a bard
Of course you will find it is often quite hard
To ensure that your words cause no great confusion
Or your readers bemuse by some obscure allusion

So as you reach for that keyboard have the spell-check to hand
And with your ideas your world will expand
But be careful to type well and present a clear case
And even take care as you choose a typeface

Ken Fisher

 

Poetic Opacity (National Poetry Day 2019)

Poetic Opacity

A second airing of this poem for National Poetry Day 2019
The theme of National Poetry Day 2019 is TRUTH
I hope the sentiments in this poem reflect TRUTH
however opaque that might be!

 

Quote:

‘Opacity is an intrinsic characteristic of some poetry.
It simultaneously enables and complicates reception’
‘As much as we might have enjoyed reading (and writing) poetry when we were children, in school we are taught that poetry is inherently “difficult,” and that by its very nature it somehow makes meaning by hiding meaning.’    Matthew Zapruder (2017)

I wonder if a poem can only be a poem if it’s meaning is opaque?
Anything which is more straightforward is something of a fake
I don’t wish this comment to appear anti-intellectual
Perhaps my simple verses are really somewhat ineffectual

The use of English language, plain,  uncomplicated
Where each word and line of every verse is quite clearly stated
With a minimal use of tropes, metaphor or simile
Helps to convey the meaning with very little difficulty

But lack of figurative language, leaving all things quite literal
Ignores deep emotions, which ‘true’ poetry renders visceral
Thus the absence of oxymoron, hyperbole and allusion
For which bland literalism is no good substitution

But some might claim this is simply all far too transparent
Demands nothing of the reader to plumb its depths inherent
A true poem should stretch the questing mind
To open the eyes which otherwise stay blind

So poems where at first the meaning seems opaque
Where we must wrestle hard thus the hidden code to break
When we are challenged by obscure ideas and expressions
In the end the aesthetic reward is seemingly more precious

I suppose I do not wish to argue the validity of the case
In favour of poetic opacity, which doggerel might debase
But simple words conveying ideas quite transparent
I am still convinced might your close attention warrant

Ken Fisher

 

See also: In Praise of Poetry    Anatomy of Poetry

If Typists Were Poets

Sunday Morning

Sunday Morning

 

‘Thus, on the day o’ solemn things, The bell that in the steeple swings To fauld a scaittered faim’ly rings Its walcome screed; An’ just a wee thing nearer brings The quick an’ deid.’

These words from A Lowden Sabbath Morn – R L Stevenson

A long way we have travelled from these epic verses
The strictures of habit and belief cast readily aside
Church bells conveniently muted, sleep left undisturbed
The call to prayer a distant wistful echo in our ears

No longer do we acknowledge preachers’ admonitions
Or the authority of Sessions or Assemblies
Are we on a hand-cart to hell?
Rather than a golden chariot to paradise

But do we care? What of our inexorable progress
From the quick to the dead?  Has fear gone with belief?
Our confident exterior shows no sign of terror
And we fill our secular Sundays with worldly pleasures

And yet, and yet………..
Is there not still  some emptiness in our soul
Amidst the clamour of play and pleasure
Turn down the volume and we may yet hear
The whisper of that Still Small Voice

Ken Fisher

Poetry on a Plate

Poetry on a Plate 

[A poem for Burns Night]

A sight to make your eyes dilate
No less than poetry on a plate
Haggis and neeps to bring delight
Who can resist this tasty bite?

And on this day when we recall
Scotland’s greatest poet of them all
Let’s relish in this ancient dish
What greater pleasure could one wish?

As we savour this grand repast
Reflecting on verses from the past
We rejoice in the gift of crafted word
And joy which food on us conferred

Ken Fisher

How Do You Do?

How Do You Do?

[An odd little poem]

 

How Do You Do?
I am quite well, thank you

 
How, may I ask, are you?
All the better for seeing you

 
Oh, you really are too kind
What are you planning for today?

 
I truly have nothing in my mind
Why not just take a little walk?

 
Yes that’s what I think I might do
Might I accompany you on your walk?

 
I see no reason why not
And then together we can talk

Thus we will while the time away
Yes that’s how we both might spend the day

 
This conversation is a game of ping pong
I serve a sentence over to you

 Then you bat back an immediate response
But we must keep the ball in play

 
Until one of us has no more to say
And then it becomes a fair bet

That the chit-chat will die as words get caught in the net
I wonder what will happen if I say no more

 
And I similarly wonder that too
Will the challenge of silence be too much for us both?

 
Then again each may ask How Do You Do?

 

 

Ken Fisher

 

 

 

 

Poetry at Work Day 2019

Poetry at Work

Can daily work reveal something poetic
Or is this simply empty rhetoric?
Work needed so that we can earn our corn
Not the object of  lyrical concern

Yet there are some who find poetry everywhere
The common round, the daily toil, what’er
The humble duty, the routine task
Thoughtful language can readily unmask

So on this day when poetry we celebrate
At the water cooler let’s initiate debate
On the poetry we can discover in our work
As CEO,  professional or lowly clerk

And let us all determine to take a little time
To sample poetry’s  gifts mundane or sumblime
That not just on this commemorative day
The poet’s art might illuminate our way

Ken Fisher

Holiday from Reality

Holiday from Reality

 

Let’s take a holiday from harsh reality
Why does a poem have to make any sense?
Give us a break from stark rationality
And enter the realm of shameless pretence

Carried along on the wings of a reverie
Let the mind wander wherever it will
Untrammelled by thoughts drawn from memory
Wild imagination’s notions distill

Be unafraid of spewing gobbledegook
Readers can wrestle to tease out meaning
Never attempting to fashion a book
Rarely to clear understanding appealing

Resorting always to simile and metaphor
Word pictures made mysteriously opaque
Language displayed in patterns irregular
Understanding rendered disturbingly vague

Why should the poet set the agenda?
The reader must surely make what they will
Sifting the verses to find what they render
In time their quest it will surely fulfil

So sit back and relax let the poem transport
Our thoughts to wherever they come to rest
Each word and line become its own passport
To the message the writer would therein express

Ken Fisher

A Poem of Fewer Words

A Poem of Fewer Words

 

Too many words spilling out from a poem
Cascading over each other like foam
On turbulent sea waves
Our thought enslaves

Too many images flooding the mind
So many notions unconfined
Prolixity quite unbound
Doth confound

Let us with the words dispense
At least try them to condense
In the vacant space
Calm, replace

Ken Fisher

 

 

Silence

Silence

Silence – the absence of all sound! Blessed peace

Silence! – a command from an irate librarian.  Shut up

Silence – an eerie sensation when returning home to find no-one in

Silence – my response when reluctant to give a truthful reply

Silence – your response when you feel I have offended you

Silence – when I am stunned by what you have just told me

Silence – when I am ashamed to tell you what I have done

Silence – when the car won’t start on a freezing cold day

Silence – we crave when our neighbours are partying through the wall!

Silence – when the letter box doesn’t click with that job offer

Silence – in the early hours when an anxious parent awaits the sound of their teenage offspring returning home

Silence – when listening in at the nursery to find the baby peacefully asleep

Silence – no response to our earnest prayers. Is God on strike?

Silence – when a loved one has gone off in a huff

Silence – in the face of dire tidings from the police officer at our door

Silence – as we shuffle into the crematorium for the funeral

Silence – as we seek relaxation in mindfulness or meditation

Silence – an awkward pause when we fail to find the right words

A pregnant silence    A gobsmacked silence     A disdainful silence

Silence attends so many of  life’s experiences and situations

It accompanies the good times and the bad, pleasure and pain,

elation and shame, bewilderment and sometimes even surprise

The mixed blessing of silence; sometimes chosen sometimes enforced

Ken Fisher