Photo of Falun Gong practitioners imprisoned in China (NTDTV)‘Two Laws’ and Other Poetry by Philip Keefe The Society August 6, 2019 Beauty, Culture, Poetry 9 Comments Two Laws In this imperfect world who suffers less: A good man wrongly jailed with conscience clear? Another whose low deeds he can’t confess Though from man’s laws he nothing has to fear? The first may sleep quite soundly in his cell, With physical discomfort he can live; The miscreant cannot his guilt dispel, Nor deep down in himself his sins forgive. For actions can be wrong yet lawful still And harming others bears this mental price: That prisons without walls these sinners fill Who morals and their conscience sacrifice. __Two sets of laws pertain upon this earth, __One man’s, but moral law much more is worth. The Sentimental Builder Who’ll live here now ‘long with my mem’ries What stranger walk these floors I laid Who’ll trust the walls to keep out enemies When lashed by storms sit unafraid? Who’ll peer through windows I assembled In thoughtful times my ceiling scan Climb these stairs that never trembled Crafted by this working man? Though deed will say he is freeholder, This place in spirit I still claim For I bent arm and back and shoulder; Yet none will ever know my name. Do I begrudge an owner’s leisure In this house I labored on? No, I’ll take hammer, saw and measure, Draw my pay and I’ll be gone. The Cost of Free Money When man is given everything he needs The motivation for his labor ends; Sufficiency to idle living leads, As want upon deficiency depends. While soporific thoughts pervade his mind Remaining diligence will be the cost And when he’s by his indolence defined, From others and himself, respect is lost. Less favored man must work an honest day Before he can enjoy some hours of rest; Yet his reward’s much greater than his pay, Of dignity and pride he is possessed. __Perhaps it’s there a golden lesson lies: __It’s not a life of ease that satisfies. Philip Keefe was born in Wales and educated in England. A sometime carpenter, sailor and song lyricist he is now a naturalized American citizen retired and living in Rockledge, Florida. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 9 Responses Martin Rizley August 6, 2019 Very enjoyable and insightful reflections on perennial themes: the nature of liberty, the value of work and the danger of idleness. A good deal of practical wisdom here, presented in a poetically pleasing way. Well done! Reply Philip Keefe August 7, 2019 Martin Thank you for your comment. I am very glad you enjoyed the poems and their content. Reply C.B. Anderson August 6, 2019 Martin is correct. These poems were well wrought. And having written that, I think that you will not be offended by a bit of technical criticism. In the next-to-last line of the first poem, I think that “obtain” would be better than “pertain.” The poem is, of course, a discussion about conscience, something that everyone except sociopaths must deal with. In the second poem, I think you are shy a few commas or other marks of punctuation, which would have made the thrust of your narrative much clearer. And (in the first stanza) “memories” (without the apostrophe) is a much better slant rhyme for “enemies.” I like this poem especially for its bearing on the value of honest work done well. The third poem, to me, pretty much explains the moral depravity of the modern Welfare State and, for that matter, indolent trust-fund children. Your work is rather good, Philip. Keep it going. Reply Peter Hartley August 7, 2019 Philip – three well-constructed poems with a theme perhaps not so popular today as hitherto, the giving of moral guidance (which can sometimes preface the horror of being judgmental). The praise of honest toil is well handled. Reply Philip Keefe August 7, 2019 Peter Thank you for your positive comments. You are right about the tendency to be judgmental and some might say that it is a failing of mine to be so but writing on a moral theme I do keep asking myself how does it apply or how has it applied to me, and the answer can be very unsettling looking back on a long life! Philip Keefe August 7, 2019 I have read many of your comments on this site and because I respect your opinions I have to say that I am very appreciative of your kind words about my poems. I think your suggestion of “obtain” as a substitute for “pertain” is an interesting one though having checked an online dictionary they seem to be quite interchangeable in meaning in this context. Thank you very much for your encouragement. Reply C.B. Anderson August 7, 2019 The definition of “obtain” that pertains here is: to be established, accepted, or customary. Philip Keefe August 7, 2019 C.B. Below is one definition of “pertain” which gives “obtain” as a synonym. “Obtain” would be a perfectly good substitute though so I guess we’re both right. per·tain synonyms: exist, be the order of the day, obtain, be in effect, be the case, be prevalent, prevail, be current, be established “salaries which are much lower than those that pertain in Western Europe” Reply C.B. Anderson August 7, 2019 Though I have never heard or read “pertain” being used in any of the senses you cited (“pertain” usually meaning in relation to), I suppose we are arguing about the prefixes “ob-” and “per-” as to how they affect the meaning of the root-word “-tain” from a Latin word that means “to hold.” It’s just not worth it. Your poems were good, and I hope to read more of them in the fullness of time. 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