Learning to Flourish
for Dan DeNicola

Are we humans half empty or half full?
A race of oxymorons, we’re wise fools
Or doltish sages, subject to the pull
Of appetite and passion, flouting rules
Of reason and decorum on a whim,
The urgings of perverse or selfish drives
That make the light of righteousness go dim,
Without which nothing wondrous ever thrives.
For human beings to flourish as we ought
We need to cultivate the wisdom in
Our hearts that may be either taught or caught,
Since wisdom is the way beyond our sin.
For only when we fully realize
Our sapience will Homo saps grow wise.


Wondrous Us

However did we come into our being?
If we can’t answer that, we know enough
To say that beyond all of what we’re seeing
There’s something underlying cosmic stuff.
Call that a spirit or intelligence,
An ordering principle or guiding force
That, peering inward, we may deeply sense:
It is a marvelous and mysterious source.
And yet, of all the wonders that we see,
Though probing to the universal verge
Or spying energy from mass emerge,
There’s none we find more wondrous than we.
And that we’re here to think and wonder so
Is evidence of what we cannot know.



Though other creatures ask What, Where and How,
the solely human question posed is Why,
to which the universe will not reply
until we learn the wisdom of the Tao.

It’s only when we enter in the flow
and meet all that assails us gracefully
by bending, turning, yielding can we free
ourselves from bafflement and truly know.

Yet what we learn so arduously is what
those other creatures come by naturally:
no headway comes from heads; it’s from the gut
we get our best instructions how to be.

The Why we ask is answered by the way
that universal Law all must obey.


Sacred Ground

On what ground may we stand unanimous
On universal principles prescribed
By ageless sages for each one of us,
Who by our kind compliance are allied?

The ground of our humanity is found
In loving kindness, wherein we all are kin,
Whereby gentility and care abound,
As through such practice we’re absolved of sin.


for Duane Elgin

The Cosmos is the universe conceived
As orderly, coherent and alive,
Which is a concept formerly believed
That some today are aiming to revive.

Despite materialists who apprehend
A world reduced to mass and energy,
Inspired cosmologists will yet contend
That Spirit gives it all vivacity,

That consciousness comes first, intelligence
Informing all that manifests as real,
For how could merely matter summon sense
Or all this vital panoply reveal?

Though Newton taught us how to calculate,
There’s more displayed to those who meditate.


Alan Nordstrom is a Professor of English at Rollins College in Winter Park, FL.

These poems are among the entries for the Society of Classical Poets’ 2012 Poetry Competition.

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The Society of Classical Poets does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or commentary.

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3 Responses

  1. Helen H. Gordon

    congratulations, Alan Nordstrom. Your poetry is refreshingly lyrical and skillful in the use of traditional forms while also dealing with timeless and contemporary themes.
    Best wishes,
    Helen Gordon

  2. NealD

    Thank you for the skillful offerings, bright of countenance and brisk with music


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