I know that I know nothing more than you,
for neither of us know a single thing
of relevance; I opt not to accrue
vast knowledge as the price is danger’s sting.
All blissful days are built on ignorance,
so I forego the chance to grow aware,
maintaining vacant-brained indifference,
for insight is a blight—a twit’s nightmare!
I breeze through bonehead days spent in a haze;
I’m blessed with less ‘cause less is always more.
It’s here our kindred witlessness parts ways;
your faculties are governed by a flaw.

I know that I know nothing and rejoice;
your knuckleheaded days aren’t blessed with choice.

A Half-Baked Rondeau Redoublé

I’m far from young enough to know it all.
With age my inner sage has paled and died.
My dimmer, dumber cerebellum’s fall
leaves ever-clever youth aloof and snide.

My egghead days and ways have flipped and fried,
and I’ll admit my wit has hit a wall.
The taunt of truth is loath to be denied—
I’m far from young enough to know it all.

My teenage mind was keen to wage a brawl
with bores I deemed to be unqualified
to comment on my canny wherewithal.
With age my inner sage has paled and died.

I burned to learn from each scholastic guide.
At twenty there was plenty to enthrall.
Elitist cheaters twisted trust and lied—
my dimmer, dumber cerebellum’s fall.

My noggin’s often slogging to recall
when acts and pacts and facts were bona fide.
My sprawling view, now shrunk to minuscule,
leaves ever-clever youth aloof and snide.

I ponder times when life was amplified
with certainty my dreams would never stall—
that joyride of a green and prideful tide,
denied because I do not know it all;
I’m far from young enough.

Susan Jarvis Bryant is a church secretary and poet whose homeland is Kent, England.  She is now an American citizen living on the coastal plains of Texas.  Susan has poetry published in the UK webzine, Lighten Up On Line, The Daily Mail, and Openings (anthologies of poems by Open University Poets).

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18 Responses

  1. Sally Cook

    Very sagacious comments from
    Susan, about the witless dumb
    Who know it all. I am with you
    Ignoring those who, in a stew,
    Think to advise ad infinitum
    That we should be a lot more like ’em.

    Good work, Mrs. Self-defining Male Human!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Sally, I love your spot-on poetic comment. The ‘ad infinitum/ a lot more like ‘em” touch is a hilarious stroke of genius. You’ve cheered my morning!
      With much gratitude from Mrs. Self-defining Male Human LOL

  2. Joe Tessitore

    How brilliant, insightful and funny is all of this, with so many remarkable lines and rhymes?
    A true tour de force!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      I’m thrilled you enjoyed my poems and thoroughly appreciate your positive feedback. Thank you, Mr. Tessitore.

  3. Mike Bryant

    Both of these poems are beautifully wrought, thought provoking and utterly hilarious. I especially love the technical mastery you display in the rondeau redoublé. I believe it must be said that any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Your biggest fan.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much for your beautiful observations and humorous disclaimer, biggest fan. You inspire me!

  4. Joseph S. Salemi

    The rondeau redouble is the best I’ve read since Dorothy Parker’s one in her book “Enough Rope.”

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      I am over the moon with this comparison. Thank you very much, Mr. Salemi.

  5. Margaret Coats

    As a collector of rondeaux redoubles, I am delighted to find this one. There are fewer than twenty that I’ve considered really worth collecting! You use the form well, and your distinction here is to combine a serious theme with a light touch. In that, I’m willing to compare your poem to one of the three or four best rondeaux redoubles in English, namely Louis Untermeyer’s “The Passionate Asthete to His Love,” subtitled “Andrew Lang and Oscar Wilde turn a nursery rhyme into a rondeau redouble.”

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you very much for reading and commenting on my poem, Margaret. I did a little online research and found the rondeau redoublé you mentioned – it is very impressive.

      I have huge admiration for the works of Oscar Wilde and Louis Untermeyer has managed to capture the essence of one of my literary heroes, together with Andrew Lang, perfectly. Your inspirational comment is a gift that fills me with joy. For that I am grateful.

  6. David Watt

    Susan, your rondeau redouble is very skillfully written, as well as being meaningful and funny. The inclusion of internal rhymes is an added bonus.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      David, thank you very much for your appreciation. I’ve grown to love the challenge and discipline of this form and I’m thrilled the end result has paid off.

  7. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    For anyone who is a fan of the rondeau redoublé, I think this one by Wendy Cope (a huge talent in the U.K.) is a real treat.

    Rondeau Redouble

    There are so many kinds of awful men —
    One can’t avoid them all. She often said
    She’d never make the same mistake again:
    She always made a new mistake instead.

    The chinless type who made her feel ill-bred;
    The practised charmer, less than charming when
    He talked about the wife and kids and fled —
    There are so many kinds of awful men.

    The half-crazed hippy, deeply into Zen,
    Whose cryptic homilies she came to dread;
    The fervent youth who worshipped Tony Benn —
    ‘One can’t avoid them all,’ she often said.

    The ageing banker, rich and overfed,
    Who held forth on the dollar and the yen —
    Though there were many more mistakes ahead,
    She’d never make the same mistake again.

    The budding poet, scribbling in his den
    Odes not to her but to his pussy, Fred;
    The drunk who fell asleep at nine or ten —
    She always made a new mistake instead.

    And so the gambler was at least unwed
    And didn’t preach or sneer or wield a pen
    Or hoard his wealth or take the Scotch to bed.
    She’d lived and learned and lived and learned but then
    There are so many kinds.

  8. Monty

    As I’ve already said on another page, I consider ‘Foolosophy’ to be my own personal biography. The knowledge to be gained from academia is generally only of use to the majority; but there’s always a providential minority for whom such knowledge can be a hindrance to their true purpose in life. Once they realise this, they eventually self-educate themselves about things which REALLY matter to them. Wilde touched upon this when he advised: ‘It seems to me that education is an admirable thing; but it’s worth remembering from time to time that nothing that’s worth knowing can be taught’.

    Regarding the half-baked ron-red . . how well and how naturally you’ve pulled it off, Susan; it must be the most difficult form of poetry to write without leaving any of the diction seeming forced. And how easily it can be compared to Cope’s piece in the way it takes its subject – its philosophy – and gradually expands upon it; which, by the end of the poem, leaves the reader able to better relate to its philosophy: or even to be in accordance with it.

    Talking of Cope: she happens to be in my cluster of favourite female poets (along with Stevie Smith, Selima Hill, Dorothy Parker, Patience Agbabi (hard-core), Carole Ann Duffy, Fleur Adcock, Sylvia Plath), and the form of her above poem fascinated me for years until I joined the SCP and learnt of the form ‘rondeau redoublé’ – and it’s accompanying rules. Until then, I always thought it was a form she’d composed herself! Foolosophy indeed.

    Are you aware of her book from which the above poem came: ‘Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis’? It’s full of the same wit and sarcasm prevalent in many of your poems (one such is called ‘Engineer’s Corner’ which, I feel, would be right up your street).

  9. Rod Walford

    Thank you Susan – I really enjoyed both of these!
    I greatly admire your skill with semantics – I confess I am not a poet who knows many technical terms ( Rondeau Redouble ( sorry I can’t do the acute accent on this keyboard 🙂 is completely new to me but your piece and the comments that followed have helped me understand. Come to think of it I’m sure I have written one without knowing it! Great work – silky, smooth and above all – very true!

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Thank you, Rod! I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. I’m glad you enjoyed them. I hope you find and post your rondeau redoublé – it’s fast becoming one of my favorite forms.

  10. Leland James

    Congratulations on your win. The poem was great fun. I’m pasting one of mine, a cousin poem as it were.–Leland James

    A Warm Spring Brain

    There’s a pea-size place
    in the human brain
    that measures hot and cold.

    Temperature, it’s said
    (those who ought to know)
    can make us kind, cranky, or bold.

    Waiters get more tips
    on summer days
    —tips get slow at two below.

    In springtime’s glow,
    love fills the air
    and wedding gowns get sold.

    I think therefore I am, but only by degrees.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Leland, thank you very much for your kind words and thank you for “A Warm Spring Brain” – it’s witty, wonderful and I love it! With much gratitude… keep those poems coming!


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