Pope, Muir, Eliot

On 2 January, I quoted this poem, and now, as an exercise, I have written a pastiche of it:

Know first thyself, thy heart, thy soul, thy mind
Then look around, see clearly humankind.
By God created, with God’s light imbued,
Creative, loving, pow’rful, by God wooed,
In touch with beauty to enrich the heart,
in nature, other people, music, art.
Mature evolved society is mine
the knowledge of ten thousand years, is thine.
The human animal is Love alive:
Our wars diminish, and our wisdom thrives.
With balance of thought and feeling, all aligned
in safe Unknowing, soon we Knowing find.
Sole judge of truth, beholding Truth unfurled,
we bring forth yet more beauty in the world.


I am not sure whether to share this one.

Resentment is not like anger.
Anger is hot, clean, now, gone.
Resentment is cold and unending,
In the darkness at the edge.
The world turns, and from the edge,
Through a glass darkly, I see possibilities:
Dancing, singing, laughter, acceptance.
I move inwards, shivering, showing my scars
Then denying them, smiling with my mouth.

There is a power in me, I know it.
It keeps me alive in a dark stone box.
The corridor narrows and darkens,
And the light through the doorways
                blinds me and terrifies me.
Through the door, into the garden.
Stay, stay, stay, says the bird-
Stay, where there is no path
And I do not know where I am going.

The opening line is a conscious echo of Edwin Muir, “The desolations are not the sorrows’ kin”, which is not on the internet but in the Collected Poems, available through Amazon. Do click to look inside: more than half the book is shared there, though not pp271-2, where The Desolations is. I recommend Song at p.146, an instantly accessible love poem, metrical and sweet; The Road at p. 223, because life as a Way is an image he returned to again and again, and Annunciation, also p223, because it is an image close to my heart now. Other verse I would recommend appears not to be shared, so, well, buy the book.

My ending is an echo of the first movement of Burnt Norton. Eliot wrote,

Edwin Muir will remain among the poets who have added glory to the English language. He is also one of the poets of whom Scotland should always be proud.

Should I share my verse? If I show my scars and vulnerabilities, I increase my vulnerability; and if I do not, I die, slowly. Or, this is a process of coming to terms with my own scars and vulnerabilities: to be effectual, the acceptance has to come from me- and revealing them helps.

7 thoughts on “Pope, Muir, Eliot

  1. Dear Clare

    An interesting question…to expose oneself, or not? Exposing vulnerability is the only way to discover whether or not one is actually vulnerable, of course. The only thing to do, is to ask yourself, “What do I want?” if the answer is to come out into the open and stand in the sunshine – yes please! – then, naturally, one is exposing oneself. And more often than not, what we are greeted with is not a chorus of derision but a deafening silence. Un-nerving, though, to take the plunge. I do so agree about that. But what is your choice? To always wonder…


      • Yes, the fear of the chorus of derision, that never comes. Why do we always listen more keenly to criticism? Why do we not wrap ourselves up in the compliments we receive? Look at me on Authonomy. I have about 142 comments praising my work to the skies, but I focus on the three that are less fullsome. Ridiculous, and unkind to the self, no?

        Love, is always the only answer. But separating the truth from the lies that we believe about ourselves is only possible when we remember that our first duty in love is to ourselves, for self cherishing brings the answers to the surface.



  2. to be effectual, the acceptance has to come from me…
    love that line. truth. as hard as it is. and self-acceptance is the first step.
    not there yet myself…but working on it. finally. that’s all we ever can ever do to move forward. and stop spinning the wheels of the past…
    thanks for the vegging comment. i think i might give it a go.


    • Welcome, Erin. You have a lot to deal with too, and are facing it courageously. I wish you well. I like “I write to right myself”- yes, me too, it helps me understand, helps me accept. We are fortunate to be so articulate!


  3. Dear Clare,
    I’ve been told resentment is re-living an old hurt, opening an poking around in an old wound. So many times I have to ask myself, “Where are you?” The answer, of course, is here, now. Those old tapes in my head would play endlessly if I let them, so I have to get out the tools I’ve been given and go to work on the damned tape player (my head is much too old for DVDs!) and get it to stop. The where are you question is a good tool, as is a gratitude list. Sometimes I have to physically move myself – make cookies for the women’s shelter, go for a brisk walk – to get me out of my head.
    Keep seeing the possibilities, keep opening the door even though the light is frightening. And dear, do please keep writing, you’re such a treasure!


    • Yes. Resentment is old. Yet I still feel I can work through it, take it into consciousness, find the original cause of the resentment, and feel it- then let it pass. That is my intent, to free myself of it. Just as if I have a current anger, or even a physical pain, if I pay attention to it it will decrease. Just as you call your blog Jesus and the art of letting go, so I am seeking to let go.

      Oh, and do put a link on your gravatar. Your blog is worth people’s while finding it.


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