"Diogenes" by Jean-Léon Gérôme‘A Reply to the Inner Self’ and Other Poetry by Douglas Thornton The Society January 12, 2017 Culture, Poetry 4 Comments A Reply to the Inner Self If, as you say, man but holds in his mind The limits only body can extend: How with Art do we our existence find, But in common words the thought always end? How may one journey on a cup of rice Further than the man who has been well-fed? How can one man live in full paradise When he has neither a house nor a bed? How is it he stays with love satisfied When he seeks no divergence in pleasure? Or how from the depths his feelings reside Unperturbed, when he has no more leisure? Small merits the man his life to consume These fortunes of mind, not letting them bloom. Grass Piper ‘Grass Piper,’ they recalled, And as they said his name A tear built in their eyes With laughter or with shame. ‘Grass Piper,’ they called out, And picking up their pace, Some of them with anger And others with a grace Familiar to the heart, In silent witness viewed The leaves and hills around With thought-provoking mood. That small forgotten land, Shaded with surrounding Trees, and the morning sun Of fairest day, peeking Over the hill, by him With troubled looks appeased Now joy, now thoughtfulness, With wonders, though short-lived, Or journeys fresh of mind, Or heartless thoughts to lay Amongst the drying grass Disguised and pass away. Hid he here, Grass Piper, Breathless still, as their call And their steps subsiding, Reverberating fall Upon his ear in mild Content, and liberty Perceiving, from eerie Shelter soon rambles free. ‘Upon that branch small birds Will sit,’ he said, ‘higher Up will perch the falcon; Mornings will the moisture ‘Shed from the fluffy banks Of that fountain; flowers From the meadow afar, Greatest are their powers, ‘When upward rays of sun Will shine that filled the night With showers; to that rock Will swarming flies alight, ‘Gentle be they to touch, When weakened by the cold At night, come there fluids Forth to suck. Neither wild ‘Nor overgrown, but smooth And neat, does this hidden Habitation lie, where Of old forgotten men ‘Of new migrations spoke, Or with their buried dead They gathered round and left Their bones; but now is fed ‘The velvet-antlered deer, Sometimes the turkey plays, Or autumn-setting sun Its fading light arrays. ‘But what untold interests, Even from stranger found, Is the dark, unknowing Remnant of wistful sound ‘Those men bring over here, Turning upon their sighs With honest intention, Or yet rolling their eyes, ‘That if I could pretend With shadow-gazing swoon To be an awful beast, Now must I raise a tune ‘To ease their growing fears In fancy ever found, That keep them from this grove And mock the hills around.’ Then lifting up his flute He played into the breeze A song ever potent, It passed with greater ease Among the many rocks Where drops of water fell And long condensation Made ancient mosses swell. And as his song kept on And echoed through the ways The mind will often search Wherewith to pass its days, The notes came flowing back And pulled his lips apart; Then leaned he out to hear The sound their steps impart. Figures born to nature Had they strayed–of those least Aware who think to see Their solitude released, And through consolation Find in lonely heart, joy And unobtrusive care, Condemning his employ: And he to search what calm Desire fill a dreaming Voice, without word or phrase, To send them on the wing Of memory’s conceit; And like the rain to fall, But with misty shadow, Upon the thing it call– Wherefore, what seldom-made Amusements led them still Through far, unimportant Retreats, their calls to fill With lassitude and faint Misgivings as his flute Would pray them to repose Their whims in his pursuit, Unsteady through the rows Of dangling leaf and air, Now drags them from the rocks To drink the water there. The leaves and hills around, What disconcerting place, To leave what far behind No path can now retrace! They pebbles lightly kick, Or throw them then refrain, And listening to the sound, Take up their path again: ‘Grass Piper,’ they recall, And as they say his name, A tear builds in his eye With laughter or with shame. ‘Grass Piper,’ they call out, Befitting to the place, Sometimes where an anger, And others where a grace Familiar to the heart, In silent witness drew The leaves and hill around And carried them from view. Douglas Thornton is a poet and English teacher living in France. Please visit his blog at www.douglasthornton.blogspot.com or visit the forum on The Society’s website entitled: A Poet’s Calendar. Related Post Ode to the Confederate Dead by Cause Bewilder for Joshua Philipp Grave statue after statue falls with strict impunity. Memorials and monuments yield to community. The wind wh... Tell the world:FacebookTwitterTumblrPinterestRedditLinkedInEmail 4 Responses Yolanda January 15, 2017 Love this, so descriptive, I see nature blossoming in an unforgettable scene. My favorite Reply Douglas Thornton January 16, 2017 Thank you for reading, Yolanda. I appreciate your kind words and patience. Reply Debbie Johnson January 17, 2017 Excellent poetry with strong imagery and metaphor, especially in the second one which reminded me of my dad who passed away many years ago. Good use of rhyme/proximate rhyme. Repetition of the first stanza later in the poem is effective and a powerful stanza in both places~Debbie Reply Douglas Thornton January 18, 2017 Thank you, Debbie. Your analysis has pleased me and I’m glad my poem was able to bring you a memory of your father. Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.