Friday, 23 September 2016

The Challenge


Some readers cannot access You Tube for one reason or another. One such reader has been in touch to ask me to post this poem/video on my blog, having seen it on You Tube at a friend’s house. (See bottom of the page for the video.) The reader asks why I bothered to film clouds; there a story behind it my fascination with them. Indeed, I have written several poems about the inspiring nature of clouds.

I wrote this poem in the early 1980’s. I was over the worst of a nervous breakdown resulting in several years of unemployment and struggling to recover a sense of ‘normality’ (whatever that is). I had started a new job, and although it would take a good few years yet before I felt really well, it was motivation enough to sustain me; this, along with my having begun writing again a couple of years earlier.

As regular readers know, writing has always been the best form of creative therapy for me, given that I am someone who has been prone to depression since childhood.

Cloud shapes (in good and bad weather) not only fascinate me, but have long been a source of inspiration for my poems, also my novels. [If interested in the latter, by the way, you will find them in serial form on my fiction blog apart from Blasphemy which I recently uploaded to Google Play.] All my novels and poetry collection are out of print and I hope to upload revised versions to Google Play over the next few years; that is to say, so long as the Grim Reaper doesn’t have other ideas as I will be 71 in December, and have already been living with prostate cancer for 5+ years.

Readers who can access You Tube may prefer to click on the link:


OR

Go to: http://www.youtube.com/rogerNtaber  and search under title.

Let's face it. Whoever and wherever we are, life itself is a challenge, the biggest any of us will ever face; we may win a battle here, lose a battle there, while the final victory lies with whomsoever discovers his or her innate humanity and is guided by it in the face of a sorry world's inhumanity on all sides. 

At my secondary school, some 50+ years ago, we were often asked to read poems aloud from an anthology. I well recall a boy in a 4th year class responding to a teacher's criticism of his reading aloud of a poem as 'lifeless'. "Sorry, sir," my classmate said, "but I don't like reading poetry. To be honest, I don't get poetry. "A challenge you have no interest in rising to, eh?" said Mr 'Jock' Rankin, our English teacher. The boy nodded. "All the more reason to rise to it," said Jock, "Life is all about rising to challenges. Think of the poem as an opportunity to shine. Better to rise to it than let it pass you by. You may well get shot down by your critics, but better that than shooting yourself in the foot for seeing someone else shine." The boy shrugged, said nothing, and was told to sit down. Another boy read the poem well, with feeling. On another occasion, months later, the first boy read a poem aloud so well, we all applauded...

THE CHALLENGE 

There is a bridge between clouds
where we pause
who ponder on the purpose
on living just to die,
where the spirit unfulfilled,
the heart strayed
across certain boundaries society
has imposed (conventions)
so much the better to disguise
its worst intentions

There is a bridge between clouds
where we pause
who ask why the world below
has let us down…or did we
let ourselves and each other down
in the end
for never ceasing to demand more
than our fair share
of whatever peace and love
to be found there?

There is a bridge between clouds
where we’ll wait
our turn to cross…or be left
wishing deeds undone,
words unsaid, lies left creeping
under the tongue,
never to see the cold light of a day
when we must answer
to all its invidious shadows
may have heard us say

We can but cross, we children of Earth,
rise to the challenge of life over death

Copyright R. N. Taber 1984; 2010; 2016



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