Opposites and Equivocations

Just when you’re ready to declare that you have had a defining experience, another experience comes along to blur that definition.  How do you know what you think you know?  Epistemology is enough to explode my brain, I fear.  I have to be very careful venturing into that discipline.  Taking an open, artistic approach spares me from the pressure to get off the fence.  The poetry prompt from today’s NaPoWriMo post helpfully supports that position.  They invited me to take a poem that already exists and re-write it so that each line is the opposite from the original.  I assume that the fruit of this labor is to see that both are valid in some way. 

Does this drive you crazy?  Are some of us driven to be dogmatic, the ones who enjoy boxing things up and nailing them down and painting them in black and white?  Is this a fear-based activity, presided over by the threat that there is a right and a wrong and you could be Wrong? Is life written in either/or, both/and, neither/nor or without the slash mark altogether?  How many school teachers asked you to “compare and contrast” and then told you that you did it incorrectly?  

Life is diverse.  You could say it is “un-like”.  It just is.  “Are you, like, for real?”  No.  I am real.  Real isn’t “like”, it is.

Original poem by Emily Dickinson, “Wild Nights — Wild Nights!”.   Opposite poem by me:

Dull Morns – Dull Morns!

While I miss Thee

Dull Morns have come

Familiarly.

 

Priceless – the Calm

to a Soul at sea –

Tossed by my longing –

Thrown to the lee!

 

Exiled from Heaven –

Oh! with thee

Might I but soar – today –

Full free!

 

Juxtaposition: somewhere near Lancaster, Wisconsin

 

7 thoughts on “Opposites and Equivocations

  1. Selected Poems by Emily Dickinson or me

    I never saw a moor,
    I never saw the sea;
    Yet know I how the heather looks,
    And what a wave must be.

    I never spoke with God,
    Nor visited in heaven;
    Yet certain am I of the spot
    As if the chart were given.

    OR

    I often walk upon the moor
    my eyes turned toward the sea
    Yet oft I wonder at each leaf
    and what a wave could be.

    I always speak to God
    when in Her heaven I stand
    Yet have no faith in Paradise
    mapped by a human hand

  2. When I entered college as a freshman, I took an English placement test. The essay question was: “When Cristo plastic-wrapped the coastline of Australia, was it art? Explain.” Everyone I asked who said it was not art placed out of English 1. Everyone who said it was art had to read Paradise Lost. Certainly, my sample was small, but I inferred that the question had been asked more for the purpose of indoctrination than as a writing test. Until I found out that the college had just hosted Cristo as an artist in residence. Then I decided that the college wanted any student who cared enough to write from the soul to be able to do it with rigorous clarity.

    Maybe that’s not the same as incorrectly comparing & contrasting, but that’s what came to mind.

      • I dunno. I suppose it depends on whether or not you tried to make an argument that intentional littering is art because it engages the senses in a statement about man’s relationship to his environment.

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