Sunday, April 17, 2011

A picture should extend beyond its frame

Since April is Mathematics Awareness Month -- with theme "Unraveling Complex Systems" -- this blogger has been seeking out poems that embrace "complexity."  Today we have a selection by British poet, novelist, and critic John Fuller from his Newdigate prize-winning poem of 1960, "A Dialogue between Caliban and Ariel.". 

from:     A Dialogue between Caliban and Ariel   by John Fuller

Cal. Have you no feelings that you cannot tame?

Ar. My target’s everything, and in my aim,
         Achievement, while another,
            Lesser lusts may drive:
         Legs hate their lazy brother
            Who saps your precious Five  
            To keep alive.

Cal. Have you no visions that you cannot name?

Ar. A picture should extend beyond its frame,  
         There being no limitation
            To bright reality:
         For all their declaration
            And complexity,
            Words cannot see.

Cal. Are not the object and the word the same?

Ar. Words are but counters in a childish game;  
         Each move you make is token
            Only of the rules:
         Any rule may be broken
            By the boy from a clever school
            Or a bored fool.

Cal. How is it, then, that words can hurt and maim?

Ar. If words do that, you are already lame, 
         Bowed down by words like firewood,
            Clenched with words like ice:
         Language is for the coward
            Who thinks a rule is nice
            At any price.

Fuller's complete poem is found at The Poetry Foundation website.  It also appears in Collected poems (London : Chatto & Windus, 1996) .

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