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Knight of Cups

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  • Knight of Cups

    He saw, as he rode,

    in foundries,
    what looted and flew;
    of empire,
    what wouldn't be fed;

    of rivers,
    what solved and mirrored;
    in rubble,
    what counsel upheld.

    Peck-mad, sky-derided
    knight, unshielded from blows,
    no guile among knowers,
    his thimble fate spat out,
    and the cutting scurry
    grinned an escutcheon sun.

    Sinking, he to a glint
    ingathered, bones to mote,
    to blow free of the fields
    that sow their dead in towns,
    dim housed, forever bound
    in hopes of the living.

    Solve et coagula.
    Orpheus piecemeal.
    Orpheus pied.

    Surveil, oculus.
    jake baddeley squaring the circle.jpg
    Last edited by grant hayes; 05-21-2017, 05:25 PM.

  • #2
    Grant I had to read this several times and digest its mystery, the all too human struggles with self, sorrowful events beyond our control and acceptance. I wish I could write like you that takes us through the bowels of hell into questioning life, struggles, beliefs. Wonderful writ.


    • grant hayes
      grant hayes commented
      Editing a comment
      Thank you so much, Alexandra. Yes, it is a mystery, and one I have constructed quite carefully. I don't expect it to be deciphered, rather, that it carry the reader along with its music. The impressions it has made on you are authentic.

  • #3
    This is an interesting piece. If I understand it, the poet is both part of the cycle, and yet observing it as outside himself. Being both part of and apart from in simultaneous fashion. I think it requires a few more readings, but on the whole it makes me sad. It seems there is little cause for joy in this worldview.


    • grant hayes
      grant hayes commented
      Editing a comment
      No cause for joy is no obstacle for a poet, and therein lies hope, at least.

      If may help interpretation to think of this - on one level - as the journey of a seed of grain to the mill and beyond. Unless a seed dies, it won't sprout forth. Now where have I heard that notion before?

    • RhymeLovingWriter
      RhymeLovingWriter commented
      Editing a comment
      You're playing in my sandbox now, for sure! I did get that too - I must admit. And what good is an unexamined life?

  • #4
    I found this lexically brilliant, as was to be expected, and not as mysterious.

    We bring something of ourselves to interpreting poetry, and I suppose that bias has effected my reading of this.

    I took the poem to mean, that we begin with great hopes and expectations, sometimes our reality proves an illusion of grandeur, which reality cures.

    In the end, we have a brief hour to make our mark, before we bow to time.

    In the end, we become that fertile dust from which new life springs.
    Last edited by DWAYNE; 04-12-2017, 06:38 AM.


    • grant hayes
      grant hayes commented
      Editing a comment
      You are right, Dwayne; one brings oneself to the hermeneutic task, inevitably. Your interpretation is surefooted.

      Signs arranged this way do not tell us anything new; they sharpen the focus on what we already know. A mirror plus .....

  • #5
    a mirror plus! we may know, but the beauty of your words adds to the knowledge and to the mystery.
    from Borges (maybe you shared the same muse):

    iNSCRIPTION ON ANY TOMB Let not the rash marble risk
    garrulous breaches of oblivion’s omnipotence, in many words recalling
    name, renown, events, birthplace.
    All those glass jewels are best left in the dark. Let not the marble say what men do not. The essentials of the dead man’s life— the trembling hope,
    the implacable miracle of pain, the wonder of sensual
    will abide forever.
    Blindly the willful soul asks for length of days when its survival is assured by the lives of others, when you yourself are the embodied continuance of those who did not live into your time
    and others will be (and are) your immortality on earth.
    [W. S. Merwin]


    • grant hayes
      grant hayes commented
      Editing a comment
      True enough, lunar glide. As for Borges, the only thing I have in common with that titan is the -es on the end of my surname.

      I'd inflect Borges' 'abide forever' with Roy Batty:

      "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe.
      Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
      I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.
      All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.
      Time to die."

  • #6
    Some notes for those that may be interested:

    The two stanzas after the one-line opening each comprise lines with the syllable count 3-5-3-5, i.e. two couplets of 8 syllables each. The combined line count of these two stanzas is also 8. Along with the first line of the poem, these comprise a 1+8 unit, which, according to Egyptian number symbolism, represents movement from primeval potential order (8) to completion and fullness (9). The conceptual irony here, is that the 9 lines in question describe a kind of undoing. Thematically, these stanzas chart a descent through the anciently conceived four elements, from uppermost to lowest:
    foundries - fire
    empire - air
    rivers - water
    rubble - earth
    Each of these elements carries its own insight or lesson for the rider.

    Stanzas 4th and 5th are both numerically 6 squared: 6 lines of 6 syllables. Obviously, they describe a process of struggle for the protagonist - now revealed as a 'knight' - culminating in a kind of transcendence or escape via reduction.

    The 6th stanza contains 16 syllables, and refers to Orpheus, who entered the underworld to rescue his love, only to lose her again, and was ultimately torn to pieces by the devotees of Dionysus. The Latin line 'Solve et coagula' is an alchemical motto that signifies being broken down in order to be made whole.

    The 7th and last stanza, only two words, enjoins an 'oculus' - a round aperture that admits light - to 'surveil', i.e. to watch, keep an eye on. The stanza contains 5 syllables, which, with the 6th stanza, makes for 21 syllables in this final section - 21 (three sevens) being the number of gates in the underworld according to a spell in the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

    The Knight of Cups of the title is, of course, a reference to a card in the minor arcana of the Tarot. He represents the idealist in love, the one who quests for the beloved.
    Last edited by grant hayes; 04-10-2017, 08:19 PM.


    • RhymeLovingWriter
      RhymeLovingWriter commented
      Editing a comment
      As if I wasn't impressed enough with the poem (and I was), your explanation is like a second wave, bowling me over with the intricacies of your writing. Your meticulous attention coupled with wealth of knowledge meld very nicely. Add another layer...I should know by now that with you, it's never just the words. Or rather, it's always the words, finely honed. Bravo!

  • #7
    ^ I decided to add a picture that I think fits the poem's tone and subject perfectly. It's 'Squaring the Circle', by Jake Baddeley.


    • #8
      edge of supersurrealism. reminds me of bukowski, the poem ends with ... "A ghost town / where only the graves / are real." I love that one. nicely done with rhythm, and this shift in the middle.

      I like the flat ending; who needs a jump off point when it ends equal.

      in Arabic the writers use a technique wherein to replace forcefully every word with a Verb allows one to get a better grip on content and rhythmic control; the words of soundlessness watched into streams w/ reflect of water? anything does, I guess, if it moves. right? it moved, it moves, that is all I know we can see: the outward display. I've been writing a book, so far pretty Auto-Didactic, and its good to see the arcane ministerings here, and the quality of readership, and response. thanx...


      • #9
        Edge of supersurrealism sounds like a fruitful space to cultivate, amenOra, beginning with a cutting from the Hesperidean tree.

        A book has been writing me for years, it pains me to say.

        I like verbs, even when they're not in Arabic; that Arabic trick with them has given me new ideas- thank you for raising it.

        Motion and rest.


        • #10
          A fabulous Write! Grant here displaying all of his poetic virtues - clipped and unusual phrasing, arcane mystery and depth rarely seen, the obscurantism of Poe, the need for hermeneutics well displayed, metaphors that are far-reaching. We must thank him for his detailed and accompanying gloss and and analysis, and the picture when coupled with the poem, makes me think of medieval manuscripts.

          I must applaud all of the poets who have commented and interacted with Grant and this poem; I am dumbfounded by the level of intelligence, insight and commentary displayed here by fellow RhymeZone poets. This level of erudition is way beyond my faltering faculties.

          Man is mortal. That may be; but let us die resisting, and if our lot is complete annihilation,
          let us not behave in such a way that it seems justice! -
          Obermann, Letter 90

          Poetry and love are the only tools in our arsenal against oblivion.


          • grant hayes
            grant hayes commented
            Editing a comment
            Thank you, Tanner. Our arsenal against oblivion, indeed. As I write, I see that you have 2222 posts to your name, which appeals to my sense of numeric pattern. As ever, the need for glossing is the sign of too tight a weave, but I do enjoy the responses, which have a life of their own quite distinct from the catalysing poem. I salute your erudition, which is, in fact, profuse.

        • #11
          i'll say--
          poetry + the zodiac.

          it is a great poem, much depth. I learned a lot, too, rereading and from the comments.

          I'm working on Aetiology and Ontos And Balkanization of Epistemology. half,mcKennaisms. or something. you mentioned the word hermeneutics, tanner. the picture reminded me of Hermes, whom I expect was atleast a peripheria in the drawing.

          more on that picture, great choice. I wonder if its cgi or paint. of course it looks like paint but yes, thats the supersurrealism. im hyper. btw, I started writing also this part on Critical Analytic, a method. trying to not rip off Dali or the Dioscuric twins... we shall see.

          good luck w. your book, grant! .x


          • grant hayes
            grant hayes commented
            Editing a comment
            You ought rather to wish the book good luck with me, amenOra; it is an unpromising subject.

            Aetiology, Ontos and Balkanization of Ontology sounds truly magisterial, and I would hope I might attain to the comprehension of such an august topic! I salute!

        • #12
          I've had to come back to this incredible piece several times, because even though I absolutely loved it, I felt that my words were too paltry to add to the laudation of such a masterpiece.
          You have left me dumbfounded again, Mr. Hayes. So much thought, time, and wit went into writing this piece - I love how every line is crafted to perfection. Thank you!


          • grant hayes
            grant hayes commented
            Editing a comment
            Thank YOU, N Y Sonnet. This is the sort of work that is utterly at odds with the current poetic Zeitgeist. I feel impelled to crank out such material, but whether from perversity or inability, I cannot tell. I appreciate your appreciation.
            Last edited by grant hayes; 04-18-2017, 06:44 PM.

        • #13
          Grant How dare you? When I have little time you go and write something I feel compelled to keep returninng to.


          • grant hayes
            grant hayes commented
            Editing a comment
            Yes, it is quite irritating, I am sure, Parkinsonspoet!

        • #14
          21 underworld gates
          49 tibetan underworld days
          52 mayan nights.

          what else


          • grant hayes
            grant hayes commented
            Editing a comment
            2520 days in a span of fat years and of lean ones. That's the lowest number divisible by all the numbers from 1 to 10.

        • #15
          I like this more every time I read it.


          • grant hayes
            grant hayes commented
            Editing a comment
            That is interesting, Rhymist. I like it less. After some reflection, I have taken it out of my best-of collection. I am oddly unsatisfied with it.