Out of the crooked timber laid by man,
No straight foundation may ever be built.
While Reason clinkers on across the span,
The tunes of Sin jaunt forward with a lilt.
To lie, to steal, to feel in ill no guilt,
To follow Peter’s thrice denial there
Before the day of blood through treason spilt;
That is the nat’ral state of man’s affairs.

But Reason also leads us off from err,
For through our wit we find morality.
Despite the bent of man toward disrepair,
We can still choose to live in sanctity.

Emotions burked, let this be understood:
There is no better aim than to be good.


Connor Rosemond is an eighteen-year-old poet from North Carolina.

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20 Responses

  1. Amy Foreman

    Well done, Connor! At age 18, you are writing meaty, metaphysical poetry with good form, and I say, “bravo!” I think you could change “to’ard” to “t’ward,” but otherwise, I believe it’s perfect!

    • Connor Rosemond

      I debated long over how to abbreviate “toward”, but ultimately decided that it didn’t matter too much as long as the reader understood my intention. Thank you very much for the compliments; this is my first published poem. Cheers!

      • Beau Lecsi Werd

        What I sometimes do is knock out two letters with an apostrophe, t’ord, as it is perhaps most frequently spoken as one syllable in this era; but Ms. Foreman’s recommendation is the more common.

  2. James Sale

    Yes, really enjoyed this poem – a marvellous achievement. It has a freshness and beauty about it. And, to be good? Yes, if only …

    • Connor Rosemond

      Thank you for the compliments! I’m glad to evoked such an emotional response.

  3. Joseph Tessitore

    How is it that an eighteen-year-old has an old fool like me looking up words?
    “burked” indeed!
    Congratulations on this being your first – I know it won’t be your last!

  4. William Krusch

    As a fellow young North Carolinian poet (nearly twenty years), I congratulate you on your work. I am pleased to find that there exists another serious young poet of merit in this state, which too often lets its poetic scene get carried away with logorrhea merely reminiscing over cicadas in the humid nights. I digress, however…

    Any work which takes on a metaphysical topic instantly gains a loftier position in the pantheon of artistic endeavors, for art is but the search for unlocking the secrets of immortality and all that lies beyond our material world. You have done a fine job elucidating the struggle between humanity’s tendency to err through base materialism and the soul’s desiring for a nobler state. However, I am unsure of your word choice in several places, not because of any lack of semantic clarity, but rather your philosophical intent. For instance, “Emotions burked” seems to negate half of the existence of man; perhaps this is the Romantic in me speaking, but I do think that the denial of emotion is not in accord with what is truly Good. Reason leads the soul to a higher outlook from which it can apprehend wisdom; this apprehension leads to a state of ecstatic enrapture where the soul desires nothing more than to be reunited with the One. Ergo, I think treating all emotion as a base impediment to Reason is inaccurate, but I see what you are suggesting – letting emotions dominate Reason leads to logical errors, which prohibit the apprehension of the Truth, therefore disallowing the transpiration of a sublime, ecstatic state of higher Emotion. Also, on a more minor note, I think “wit” has perhaps too much of a whimsical connotation to it to be employed as a precedent to moral philosophy, but that is a mere matter of opinion. After writing this whole spiel, I have remembered that this work is indeed entitled “Kant,” and so I suppose I must restrain my commentary to judging what Kant himself would have said; as for that – well done.

    Overall, this is a fine sonnet; do continue your artistic pursuits, and congratulations on reading Kant (there are certainly more concise and lucid philosophers to read).

    One final comment – “burked” makes a fine pun for Edmund Burke, should you find the need to write a sonnet about him at a later time…

    • Connor Rosemond

      Yes: the poem is meant to portray the philosophy of Kant, and not necessarily my own moral philosophy (though there is significant overlap). I would agree, to an extent, with your opinions regarding the shunting of emotion. Thank you for the kind words!

  5. Connor Rosemond

    Thank you, Leo — your poem on Kant is quite good as well! I’ll keep your advice regarding abbreviations to mind. Cheers!

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      Leo Yankevich is correct — the word “toward” today is a natural monosyllable in standard English speech. There’s no need for any apostrophe.

      My only cavil is your use of “err” in the ninth line as if it were a noun. “To err” is a verb.

  6. E. V.

    Excellent, Connor! I loved the poem’s meaning and how you expressed it. It’ll be a treat to see more of your work.

  7. C.B. Anderson


    I thank you for reminding us all, once again, of the categorical imperative.

  8. David Gosselin

    Hey Connor,

    Nice effort my friend. I would definitely recommend you look at Friedrich Schiller, who refuted Kant’s whole approach to morality through what he called an aesthetical education. For Kant, man is essentially treated as a rational animal, but ultimately still an animal with all its irrational passions and desires. What to do? Well, in Kant’s thinking that means we need a good rule book, which we can just consult every time we’re not sure what we should be doing. But the question is, is that true freedom? Is a man who needs to consult a rule book to know how to behave really free? Remember what Saint Paul said, “the power of sin is the laws” – a seldom understood passage. Man is not a rational animal, man is a human being. Schiller makes the point that it is not by training man to follow a set of rules that he becomes free, it’s by taking joy in doing one’s duty, through the development of what he calls the beautiful soul, where man’s natural instincts becomes to do the Good, rather than the formalist fetish of following formulas, no matter how well conceived.
    It is the same with poetry and creativity. Think of those who attempt to craft their poems in order for all the lines and numbers to tally, vs. one driven by true passion. What difference!
    The Kantian cannot trust his instincts, and therefore he needs rules. And for that reason, he will never know the true meaning of beauty, or of poetry, or freedom, which springs not from following “rules”, but from its own innate necessity, from the joy of true creativity. It is a subtle point, but the results are unmistakable in writing and demeanour.


    Otherwise, here is one on Keats’ battle against the “Enlightment” and Augustan school. I think you’ll appreciate these.


  9. David Watt

    Hello Connor,

    Your first published poem combines form and beauty. This indicates a bright future for you as a poet. I look forward to reading more of your work.

  10. J. Simon Harris

    This is a very well written poem, especially for an eighteen year old. The rhymes are nice, the meter done well, and you deftly handle your subject. I agree with Mr. Yankevich that you should not abbreviate the words “toward” and “natural”… let people pronounce them as they will (and most people pronounce them as you have abbreviated them, not as they are spelled). Otherwise, nicely done! I hope we see more from you in the future.

  11. Leo Yankevich

    “But Reason also leads us off from err,”

    Could be changed to:

    “However, reason helps us not to err”

    or more elegantly:

    “conversely, reason helps us not to err”

  12. Paul Gray

    All aims at being good will lead to nout
    The shadows on the cave wont lead us out;
    The best of all great aims is “live in doubt”
    Whilst doubting that same aim, being without
    Faith or certainty to soothe ones pain
    Still in such doubt I dare you to remain.

  13. Paul Gray

    I worked extremely hard at being good
    Pulled down prideful erections as I should
    My better nature’s king I’ve royal blood
    I now can see the trees
    But not the wood.


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