'True coin - the finest armour...'
True coin - the finest armour ever wrought!
With such as this I smote love in the dust
And conquered worlds; but now that time grows short,
No smithy's art can free my heart of rust.
We play in the House of Original Sin,
Where the name of the game is Blame,
Where Habit and Guilt take turns to spin
And credit is measured in Shame;
Where the wheel is rigged, the fix is in,
And the rules stay always the same:
You cannot break even; you cannot win;
And you cannot get out of the game.
In the three principal Laws of Thermodynamics, (there are four, but we needn't go into that), the First states that energy cannot be created, the Second that some energy is always wasted (no perpetual motion possible) and the Third that you can never reduce temperatures to absolute zero. As Bill Bryson notes in his A Short History of Nearly Everything (Doubleday 2003), these laws are sometimes expressed jocularly by physicists as follows: (1) you can't win, (2) you can't break even, and (3) you can't get out of the game. This struck me as a sound summation for the human condition, never mind thermodynamics!
Time is the Cruel River
Time is the cruel river,
The never ending stream,
The taker and the giver,
A nightmare and a dream.
Its waters never waver,
No bargain can be struck;
Its cruelty or favour
Depend alone on luck.
Its current unencumbered
By pity or by pride,
Its denizens outnumbered
Within a deadly tide.
Our lives hang by a sliver
From the hour we are born:
Time is the cruel river,
And we are but its spawn.
'We are not who we think we are...'
We are not who we think we are,
Our lives slide slant as blood runs true,
Lost estuaries from near and far,
Debris of me, the silt of you.
We are not what the wise have said,
Our words the stolen scrawl of scribes,
The alphabets of gods long dead,
The coded scrolls of vanished tribes.
We are not where we thought to be -
Nor ever stood in Eden's shade,
Memory gilds the stricken tree,
And decks with bloom a barren glade.
[start of notes]
I recently read much of a copy of Island of Dreams by Felix Dennis. The book is subtitled "99 Poems from Mustique". I photographed several pages and transcribed them later.
Some details from the first few pages:
- Copyright © Felix Dennis 2007
- First published by Noctua Press 2007
1) 'True coin - the finest armour...' appeared on page 61.
2) House Rules appeared on page 92.
3) Time is the Cruel River appeared on page 180.
4) 'We are not who we think we are...' appeared on page 193.
Changes from the original text:
- In the following poems, every second line was originally indented by two spaces:
-- 'True coin - the finest armour...'
-- Time is the Cruel River
-- 'We are not who we think we are...'
- I have substituted a hyphen with a space either side of it ( - ) for the em dash used in the original text.
- Any notes / explanations that appear after a poem were originally set in a smaller font size than the default.
- The dates were originally aligned right and set in a smaller font size than the default.
[end of notes]