Wordsworth wrote an endless poem in blank verse on” the growth of a poet’s mind.” I shall attempt a more modest feat for a more distracted age: a blog, “Things which a Lifetime of Trying to Be a Poet has Taught Me.”
Plato started a lot of conversations that he couldn’t finish. He was trying to find the universal and the absolute by looking in the wrong place. He sought well, but the final answer was beyond his grasp. But he sets the questions up better than anyone. What if there was someone who could come into Plato’s Cave from the outside world of the sun? What then?
REFLECTIONS FROM PLATO’S CAVE
The fleeting shadows flow across the wall;
That’s all we know. We think they may arise
Outside our minds, and bring before our eyes
Some glimpse of Truth–but by the time they fall
To us, a faint and hieroglyphic scrawl
Is all that’s left. We try to analyze,
Deduce from patterns what the shapes disguise–
They’re hard to catch and harder to recall.
We think reflections of Reality
Are cast by Sunlight shining–how we crave
To turn and look–but still we strive in vain.
No merely mortal man will ever see
Whether the Door behind us in the Cave
Is there, so firmly Fate has bound our chain.
So many years we strove against the chain
That gradually some gave up, and hope was dead.
“There is no Door; there is no Cave,” they said,
“No explanation, nothing to explain.
It’s just a game you play inside your brain:
All the poetry you’ve ever read
Makes chemical reactions in your head;
That’s all that Pleasure is, and also Pain.”
What of the Beautiful, the True, the Good?
“They’re all illusions; they are all the same,
Sounds upon the wind, an empty name,
And that is all that can be understood.”
But then the rule that says that nothing’s true
Must be applied to their denial too!
So hope could not completely be denied.
Yet still the shadows flicker on the wall,
And we’re not certain what they mean at all
In spite of every theory we have tried.
If only one of us could get outside
Into the Light that fills that vaster hall
And not go blind, but come back and recall
For us the land where the True Shapes abide!
If only–but the ancient Grecian knew
No way that it could be. It seemed absurd
To hope or to despair. So still the True
Was but in shadows seen, in echoes heard–
Until the birth of a barbaric Jew
Who was in the Beginning; was the Word.
Remember: for more poetry like this, go to https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/ and order Stars Through the Clouds! Also look for Inklings of Reality and Reflections from Plato’s Cave, Williams’ newest books from Lantern Hollow Press: Evangelical essays in pursuit of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. And look for Williams’ very latest book, Deeper Magic: The Theology behind the Writings of C. S. Lewis, from Square Halo Books!
Donald T. Williams, PhD