once upon a time


an angel visited the Earth:
for many years he thought
everybody on Earth was mad
because he could not understand

what it was they were enjoying;
then he caught the Earth disease
and began to enjoy Negative Emotions
just as they had always done

and he could no longer see the madness;
when the heavenly adjudicator came down
to tell him he had failed the test
he got madder and madder…

failed the test and forgotten something
and must remain on Earth until he remembered
what it was and had disentangled himself
from all the curious delights

of indulging in negative emotions:
sinking into the bottomless swamp
of being gloomy or bad-tempered
self-pitying   tart or caustic

15 thoughts on “once upon a time

  1. Two voices, two notes, two forces clash together. Fairy Tales reflect something back to us as does this poem. I like the shift in voice that happens in the last stanza. The voice is harsh, judgemental.The adjudicator seems as trapped as the angel, the poem reminds me of how trapped we are by duality, likes, dislikes, our aesthetic tastes and so forth. The prepostion per is maybe better suited for a broader scope. This poem reminds me of Siddhartha by Hesse.How Siddhartha’s journey to enlightenment led him to see all our imagined constructs as energy, and all energy as a catalyst for transformation, and because this is all possible the energy was called love. Maybe the angel as forgotten how to feel the wind through the trees, and only a strong authoritarian voice can give the angel the neccessary shock to wake up. I see my own judgments at work! Sometimes in fairy tales the protagonist’s curiosity guides him or her into the dark woods, Siddhartha’s indulgences blinded him in ignorance. Like this poem, Thomas Merton reminds us that the light of the intellect when lacking can only lead to misery and madness.

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  2. Lovely analysis Patrick (lovely poem Colin!). I enjoy the parallels you make with Siddartha. Regarding Merton: is that lack a lack of feeling / doing? The sense that the intellect develops beyond the rest of one’s being?

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  3. I’m not sure Chris. What I’ve gathered from Merton is that his text seems to suggest that the word intellect is all inclusive. It is feeling/doing/thinking. Maybe I will search out something from him and post it.

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  4. Negative emotions suck, and apparently keep on sucking until they’ve sucked every drop of life out of us. Trying to stop them has become politically incorrect it seems.

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    1. Dear Priyanka

      The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask!

      I think the idea behind the poem is that even high-ups (angels, say)can be enticed into negativity. Don’t we all fall for it without realising it as we do so? Then it becomes a habit. There are some people we know who always look on the dark side of things. Not us, of course, we are never negative. 🙂

      So the angel is a metaphor for people who imagine that they are high and mighty, that being negative is beneath them. But as soon as they get into negative company they succumb and become just like all the rest. The angel couldn’t leave the earth because he was perversely attracted to negativity and then it just became a habit.

      For me, people who say, “Yes, but…” are the negative ones. “Yes, the world ought to be a nice place, but…” It’s just a bad habit that they’ve got into.

      Does that help?

      Colin

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      1. Ooohhh.. too deep.. Priyanka has a lot to learn!! (:
        Yes it helped… I think I should share it.. Can I reblog it? There are people around me who are stuck in similar situations of if’s and but’s .. it’s a must read for them!!
        Good day 🙂

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  5. Reblogged this on pinkatenchanted and commented:
    Please read the poem first… then come back later and read below to clear your doubst!!

    I had to ask him, the author (Colin)
    Why did that angel visit the earth, Colin? Why did s/he not go back when he thought everyone was mad?
    Can’t understand
    Stupid Priyanka :/

    He is so generous.. elaborated as follows:
    Dear Priyanka

    The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask!

    I think the idea behind the poem is that even high-ups (angels, say)can be enticed into negativity. Don’t we all fall for it without realising it as we do so? Then it becomes a habit. There are some people we know who always look on the dark side of things. Not us, of course, we are never negative.

    So the angel is a metaphor for people who imagine that they are high and mighty, that being negative is beneath them. But as soon as they get into negative company they succumb and become just like all the rest. The angel couldn’t leave the earth because he was perversely attracted to negativity and then it just became a habit.

    For me, people who say, “Yes, but…” are the negative ones. “Yes, the world ought to be a nice place, but…” It’s just a bad habit that they’ve got into.

    Does that help?

    Colin

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  6. Colin–beautiful poem! How easy it is for angels to become pernickety human beings. The reverse—well that like Scrooge is another matter altogether.

    I am tempted to put all my poems in a section in my blogspot! Inspired by you, of course!!

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