Owl of Minerva

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Owl of Minerva

Postby marwood » Wed Jun 02, 2010 6:52 pm

Carefully pushing aside the stinging nettles,
with the worn scuffed toes, of your old gardening brogues,
you send cabbage whites fluttering through your wild grey hair;

then, reaching forward, trying to avoid the vicious
bayonets of the bramble bush, you retrieve
the cricket ball; with hardly a scratch you cast it back.

We watch as the shining, spinning, bright red orb, soars
higher and higher
into the cloudless sky.

I am thinking of you now, as I stand outside
this city centre bar. In the crystal night the
full Moon has the company of Mars, a tremulous ruby.

I raise my glass of whisky to the heavens,
and through the warm, golden liquid, a summer's day
a lifetime ago.

( For D. M. Wood. Eighty seven years of age,
still the wisest, kindest soul, I am blessed to know)
Last edited by marwood on Wed Jun 12, 2013 11:22 am, edited 4 times in total.
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen.
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Re: Owl of Minerva

Postby Saturn » Wed Jun 02, 2010 8:37 pm

Wonderful stuff Marwood, poignant, evocative and warm-hearted. Thanks for sharing it with us.
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Re: Owl of Minerva

Postby moonflower » Fri Jun 04, 2010 3:46 pm

I like how the red cricket ball is linked to the ruby Mars.
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Re: Owl of Minerva

Postby steffen » Sat Jun 12, 2010 12:10 pm

Hello Marwood.
Quite a poem you've written here: subtle, haunting, intringuingly quiet and understated, so full of a mysteriously contained overpowering energy. To say nothing of the "Cabbage whites"
(---a reference to Haegel's phrase,"warmed up cabbage" or simply a British expression, unfamiliar to an American ear ?---), the "viscious bayonets of the bramble bush" "the shining, spinning, bright red orb of the cricket ball", and Mars-- a tremulous ruby in the company of a full moon.

A pocket-biography, gently told, of your much-loved 87-year-old friend, who has been through it all, and in spite of every hurdle has managed to escape clean as a whistle and unscathed, at least up to now: He towers over all the rest, symbolizing an ordered world, and of all that is good and admirable in our society, our civilization: But he himself, like our civilization, is mortal and the end will soon, and inevitably, close in on him.

Your little poem attains something akin to grandeur: it stands alone, a masterpiece all its own.

P.S. The title of your poem, Owl of Minerva, is a very telling inference, as is the expression, "cabbage whites". These subtly inserted references apppear to me as empathetic links to Haegel's famous Philosophy of Right Preface (1820):

"They (the new philosophers) think that their WARMED UP CABBAGE contains new truths. .....that the spiritual universe is looked upon as abandoned by God, and given over as prey to accident and chance. As in this way the divine is eliminated from the ethical world, truth must be sought outside of it. . . . Thus truth is reduced to mere speculation."

Elsewhere, Haegel expresses in so many words, not vebatim but yes, emphatically, that Reason is Truth, and Truth Reason. I mention this only as a curious coincidence given that the Preface was written in 1820: The three supreme odes, "Ode to a Grecian Urn" along with "To a Nightingale" and "On Melancholy", were all written between January and late May of 1819. This is not to say that Haegel had actually read Keats. Haegel placed philosophical truth at the pinnacle of his pyramid, followed by Religion, Art (beauty). . ., whereas Keats placed Beauty as the very definition of Truth, and vice versa. Be that as it may,this sticky question may have been in those times a common topic of conversation and dispute among the educated throughout 18th and 19th century Europe, and, for that matter, even up to our own days.

Further on in the Preface, after careful refleclion on this idea, Haegel concludes with a dramatic, apocalyptic metaphor taken from Greek mythology, which, as the title of your poem would seem to nail down, albeit intangibly so, as its central theme. Haegel, the guardian of reason as supreme truth, places it as the very bulwark of our civilization although in danger of being supplanted by irresponsible philosophical speculation, and ominously quotes the ancient adage:

"THE OWL OF MINERVA TAKES ITS FLIGHT ONLY WHEN THE SHADES OF NIGHT ARE GATHERING."

I say all this on the basis of the symbolic ramifications of the final toast at the cafe under the starry heavens and a full moon on the horizon in the company of the blood-red planet Mars at nighfall --- the lunacy motif of the rising full moon escorted by the sinister planet-god of war ominously portends nothing less than the slow but relentless disintegration of our civilization.

"El SUEÑO DE LA RAZÓN CREA MONSTRUOS" (The sleep of reason creates monsters) Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes, 1746-1828

P.P.S. I trust you will not think that this post is an attempt on my part to capsulize, box in or limit in any way your poem. It outstreches mere meaning. It is greater than the sum of its parts, an entity unto itself, with a separate interior life of its own, an off-shoot stemming from the deep roots of your soul; an unknowable mystery.
Last edited by steffen on Sun Aug 01, 2010 8:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Owl of Minerva

Postby marwood » Sat Jun 26, 2010 9:50 am

Thank you so much for your gracious comments.
Best wishes, take care.
Marwood.
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen.
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Re: Owl of Minerva

Postby steffen » Sat Oct 30, 2010 11:00 am

The Owl of Minerva---- Minerva and now Amekhania, the spirit of the weak and helpless. Hubris - Hamartia, but no catharthis here. Metaphors of impending destruction. Gog and Magog. (Apocalyspse: 20, 2-12).

Powerfully spoken, but subtle, tenuous, inimitably understated.
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Re: Owl of Minerva

Postby titian dj » Wed Feb 02, 2011 2:06 pm

Wonderful stuff, Marwood

I thoroughly enjoyed this beautiful evocation of friendship and admiration. The language and imagery are top drawer as you make reference to so many memories.

I was wondering about some of the punctuation. I'm forever changing my commas, semis, full stops etc etc. So, my suggestions merely reflect a thought or two.

S1 Fine

S2L3 Maybe replace the comma with a semi

S3 Fine

S4 I'm a tad confused with L's 2 & 3. Is the speaker standing in the bar in the crystal night or does the full moon have the company of Mars in the crystal night? Perhaps a full stop or a semi after 'bar' or 'night' would help. See what you think anyway.

S5 Fine

A fine poem and one your friend would be proud of methinks. Thank you.

Best,

Bri


marwood wrote:Carefully pushing aside the stinging nettles,
with the grass flecked toe of your old gardening brogues,
sending cabbage whites fluttering through your wild grey hair;

then, reaching forward, trying to avoid the vicious
bayonets of the bramble bush, you retrieve
the cricket ball, with hardly a scratch you cast it back.

We watch as the shining, spinning, bright red orb, soars
higher and higher
into the cloudless sky.

I am thinking of you now, as I stand outside
this city centre bar, in the crystal night, the
full Moon has the company of Mars, a tremulous ruby.

I raise my glass of whisky to the heavens,
and through the warm, golden liquid, a summer's day
a lifetime ago.

( For D. M. Wood. Eighty seven years of age,
still the wisest, kindest soul, I am blessed to know)
titian dj
 
Posts: 42
Joined: Tue Mar 03, 2009 1:01 pm

Re: Owl of Minerva

Postby marwood » Fri Feb 04, 2011 4:34 pm

Thank you for your comments and suggestion's.
I have made a couple of changes and hope it flows better.

These memories came to me when I was outside a bar in Birmingham.
It was a cold frosty night with a clear sky and a beautiful full moon.
To the left of the moon there was a bright star, which I found out later was the planet Mars.

Thanks again for your comments.
Best wishes.
Marwood.
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen.
marwood
At Parnassus' foot
 
Posts: 121
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2009 3:22 pm
Location: Birmingham England


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