I Doubt I Shall Ever See…
Of all the compliments and insults I’ve received as “The Flyosopher” only the ones about my skills as a writer do I really care about. As you may have noticed, I publish all the comments and criticisms this blog receives (with the exception of the 30 billion spam posts that come each day – if you ever got caught by that filter I apologize but it’s truly daunting how much junk email we get each day.) I even published a comment from the only woman ever to break the Flyosopher’s heart – although she was obviously looking for me nearly 20 years later so that tells you something.
Many of the posts I’ve made I’m pretty proud of. Others have missed the mark – like the “Patience” one I did a very poor job of expressing what I wanted to express. A few others have been largely forgettable – that’s just life they can’t all be gems. The primary job of a writer of any writer is to move ideas from one mind to another. The ideas themselves are of some importance but ideas are the craft of thinkers (often but not always the same person.) Writers move ideas. If there is a misunderstanding, lack of clarity, or if the idea does not reach the reader the writer likely failed.
However, there is an art of writing called poetry. In which the ideas are delivered to the reader in their most natural and raw state. We all have ideas; some we truly iron out in our minds, others just flash about for a moment, and still others are full of holes and shadow. Our own mind is capable of creating unclear incomplete children born of misunderstanding. Not every thought in our head starts with a thesis statement and ends with a witty conclusion. A poet, a GOOD poet, is capable of moving ideas like these to other minds, so that other minds may enjoy their vagueness or share in their completion.
Flyosophy Fun Fact: If all the cash money the Flyosopher earned as a writer was in a pile and then divided based on the style of writing that earned it. The largest pile by far would be labeled “Poetry” – bet you didn’t see that coming.
If you have never read poetry, or if the last time you did it was minutes before your final for English class, you may want to start again. I’m not going to tell you that it will change your life or give you an insight (though it may) but the exercise will strengthen a part of your brain that you may not always use. Reason enough.
My advice would be to start with Robert Frost. He’s not the greatest poet but a damn good one. His themes are fairly simple, yet often hold deeper and deeper interpretations. You don’t need a lot of “outside info” to appreciate his works, may poets reference the Bible or Greek and Roman Mythology and are hard to fully appreciate without a strong foundation in the Classics (which is something else you should have but first things first.) Finally, Robert Frost is from New Hampshire and was once on the Simpsons. What else do you need?
Let’s take a look at one of Frost’s most famous poems – you should know this one even the barely educated Greasers did.
Nothing Gold Can Stay
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Robert Frost – 1923
I’m not going to hand hold you through this, and it is not a difficult poem. On the surface it is about the changing of the seasons, how nature whether the moments are beautiful or terrible, they are just moments, and they will change. So too, like the sands through the hourglass, are the days of our lives. The reason any moment is gold or precious is because it is just a moment. It is the temporary nature of everything that makes anything beautiful. Yes, I do have a soul try not to tell anyone and spoil my reputation.
But seriously, that’s an eight-line poem, far fewer words than the average “tweet” and it says – it says a LOT. The idea’s that Frost had nearly a century ago are now in your head, and this idea requires a bit of work on your part. Like a nut with a solid shell, but this mental workout, that’s part of the gift. Appreciate it, you don’t have to like it, but appreciating poetry will make you a more complete human being.
It will also give you some insight into how fish read our flies. How the idea of them is moved from their presence in the water to their wet little brains, because the language of nature, all nature, is poetry.
ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED!!!!!!
Flies are poems. They are a means of conveying an idea to another species. As is the case with all writing, sometimes leaving the details a bit fuzzy and not hammering your points home too much, you make a far more compelling and emotional connection than you can with far more exacting prose.
“Words are the source of misunderstandings.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry The Little Prince
This is why a few pieces of marabou, that give an inkling of life but not a clear picture of really anything, are often more successful than a far more rigid argument made by say one of those EZ body style patterns that look exactly like a baitfish but leave nothing to the fish’s imagination.
I stumbled upon this idea bonefishing. I found that when I was looking for something specific: fish, tails, nervous water – I saw nothing. When I allowed my eyes to relax, to just take in what was there, I saw changes. I saw that the water there was not the same as that water, this shadow was not moving like that shadow. In short by being in a softer state, looking for less, I saw a lot more. Not specifics but I received nature’s vague and incomplete ideas that my own mind was able to fill in the gaps for.
This poetry was a far more effective means of communication. We’ll take a look at a few more flies in the coming weeks that exemplify this. Until then enjoy one more poem by Frost…
Fire and Ice
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
Robert Frost 1923 Published in New Hampshire a book you should read