Posts Tagged ‘path’

empty negative

is there a journey,
a path and a traveller?
— am I the changing
landscape? — the next footstep is
always another question

This poem is based on a dream last night where I was passenger in a car. The driver and I, between us, were trying to find our way through a countryside of rolling Mediterranean hills — with eventual success — arriving where the road came to a dead end in a market. Very picturesque. It set me off thinking, awake, about the metaphors ‘path’, ‘journey’, ‘way’, etc — as for instance in the word TaoTao surely the most profound symbol ever discovered by any religion (and so down to earth as well). Somehow, very swiftly, I found myself questioning the terms of the ‘journey’ metaphor. Am ‘I’ the traveller, or the path, or the journey? Somewhere at the back of my mind I had a memory of having heard about a Buddhist proof that the ‘I’ does not exist, which works by analysing a chariot into its component parts. I’ve tracked this down as a Wikipedia article here. So that’s roughly how I arrived at the title of my poem.



Moses ascends Mount
Sinai and all around him
the desert whispers
futility — oh Moses,
if only you had listened!

The poem took futility as its starting point. Same old, same old: futility, defeat, inadequacy. These are the emotions I feel, faced with the task of extracting meaning from a dream into a poem. The poem began to germinate with the idea that the futility is something positive. It’s an opportunity for seeing beyond the obvious. In my dream, I saw a photo of a rock-strewn path up a mountain, which I knew to be Mount Sinai. I recognised it from when I climbed Mount Sinai in 1984. Awake, I thought of Moses, and also of Heraclitus who pointed out that the way up a mountain is the same as the way down (thus demonstrating the unity of opposites). Comparing Moses and Heraclitus, it struck me that Moses could really have learned something from Heraclitus. I suppose my poem ends up finally as being all about patriarchy and purposefulness. The undermining of purpose by futility is a good thing, if it makes us stop and discover a more nuanced outlook. There’s nothing very nuanced about the Ten Commandments.


together we walk
the same path — without knowing
why, whence or whither

Oddly enough I was being unfaithful in last night’s dream. And oddly enough I am not married, though have been engaged for over ten years.

Monday 12 May

the old Christian
paths convey only so much
traffic of meaning
before their edges begin
to crumble and turn pagan