I thought and thought of pride and pride
began to grow and over-ride
my common sense until I thought
the thought itself was what I sought—
nor could I sense the meaningful
sense that I, a common fool
were trapped in blindness of the self
(it’s not a road to mental health);
and when I thought about my soul
in pride I thought my self were whole.
It took me years to realize
a prideful self is never wise—
a hard truth to conceptualize
when it’s right before your eyes.



Elwin Wirkala was in the Peace Corps in his early twenties and subsequently spent two plus decades in South America, gaining near native fluency in Portuguese and Spanish. He has translated Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz’s sonnets and the great Primer Sueño, on which he is writing a book.

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10 Responses

  1. Joe Tessitore

    A very good read!

    A grammar point – the word “were” appears twice in the poem and should be “was”.

    • C.B. Anderson


      “Were” used in this way denotes the subjunctive mood, as in a clause such as “If I were rich,” though the first instance (“were trapped in blindness of the self”) should probably use the indicative mood “was.”

      • Joe Tessitore

        Thanks, C.B.
        I’ve never been good (or comfortable) with those.
        My apology to Mr. Wirkala.

  2. Wilude Scabere

    In cadence, tone and punning, Mr. Wirkala’s “On Pride” is reminiscent of Launcelot Gobbo.

  3. Elwin Wirkala

    Thanks for these comments, friends. Joe, I guess I’m obsessed with the subjunctive. I spent years speaking mostly Portuguese and Spanish so maybe got contaminated that way. No need to apologize! This is the first time I’ve been e-published. It’s really nice to get comments, even if I get gobbosmacked. If any of you would like to critique my translation of ‘Primero Sueño’, please let me know, and if Mr. Mayrink would like to change my ‘weres’ to ‘wases’, fine with me! I’d like to place some translations (from Sor Juana mostly) so will have to figure out how. Warm greetings to all.

  4. Monty

    I like this, Elwin. It’s a fresh and unusual subject for a poem; well-written (in a diction and grammar sense); and with strong rhymes. I also like the clever wordplay with “thought and thought”: “pride and pride”: “thought the thought”: “sense the . . sense”: they’re quite imaginative.

    I must remark upon a couple of things:

    In L6, “a common fool” is an interjection separated from the rest of the sentence, hence there should be a comma not only after “I” (which you’ve done), but also after the word “fool”.

    In L7, I agree with Joe that the “were” should be a “was”. The use of ‘were’ for ‘was’ is generally only used colloquially in the north of England. For example, in south and central England, we’d say: “It was him, not me” . . but in the north, many still say: “It were ‘im, not me”.

    In L10, I’d replace the word “were” with ‘as’; so it reads: ‘I thought myself as (being) whole’.

    In L14, I’d add the word ‘there’ just to maintain the meter: ‘When it’s right there before your eyes’.

    But they are only minor quibbles. This is a good poem; and you’ve got a good poetic sense about you. You also write with a light touch.

    Well played . . and good luck with your book.

  5. Elwin Wirkala

    Such a nice post, Monty, I really enjoyed it. I agree with all your suggestions. I’d like to read something of yours also. Now that I’m old words just emerge from the other side somehow. Maybe I cleared away some of the pride blockage, but one can never be sure, so…fingers crossed. Thank you!
    ewirkala@gmail.com (I don’t mind people writing to me if that’s permitted.


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