Sunday, July 24, 2016

Looking for meaning

It's something we all do, all of us,
look for the meaning of things,
seek out the 'truth', delve for 'purpose'.

And come up, from all that,
more often than not,
empty-handed and disappointed.

I have a book from college,
decades and decades ago now,
by John Ciardi, a literary critic,
How does a poem mean?

It's the only book I still have
from those idyllic, innocent
years of my late teens
and early twenties.
The only one I kept,
though I had a multitude
of books those days.

I was looking at it earlier tonight.
It does have some of my favorite
poetry between its covers--
but what drew me to it this day
was that remarkable title.

Not "What does a poem mean?"
But "How", not "what".

Maybe I am looking in all
the wrong places
for the very wrong thing.

Maybe I shouldn't be asking,
over and over, non-stop,
ad infinitum, "What?"
"What?" "What?" "What?"
"What does it mean???"

Thank you Professor Ciardi,
for the question I need:
not "what?" but "How?"
is meaning found.

"How?" is easier to sit with,
because you can sit with it.
"What?" sends you coursing off
down dead-ends,
blind alleys,
labyrinths of confusion.

"How does it mean?"

Now there's a place to sit and think,
and wonder and ponder,
and invite being perplexed.

Where is obvious.
When can be placed in time.
Who is often undeniable.
What, as always, is difficult.
How, though, there's something
to sit with and wonder about
and ponder till the cows come home,
whenever cows come home.

How does life mean?

Well worth a ponder or two....

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About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.