Lamplight in the early years of England
Shone around the artist and his hardened works,
Illuminating lands no one had heard of
He mapped the way across the universe.
With nature just ahead for his companion
The traveler used his wits to gather clues.
A mirror of nature beneath a field of clouds
The artist reflected in that motionless pool.
Upon return the nomad turned out traces
To teach the path to pleasure through and through.
The words of knowledge at his bright disposal
The only obstacle was to pursue.
Dispelling indignations of the fathers
Rewriting maps in correct and legible light,
Brass tools, compass, and quill; the lessons he distilled
Elevate us still from morn until night.
Then the pupil took his reservations
Filled a raincloud covering all the land
To dim the light from other wandering lamp-posts
He stood alone, a solitary man.
Once again he travelled through the garden
Of hopes, affections, loss, and happiness,
Though brave in his unaccompanied voyage
His expression was a cloak of man, depressed.
Our drifter, muted in the vales of England,
Though admittedly in contact through the crown,
Still suffers strong connections with his fathers
Yet, now he’s only left to map the towns.
The natural artist tucked back in his town-flat
Must make a match to find his own clear light
And quench the thirst of solitary masses,
To fuel the fire of each individual light.
Synopsis: I gathered the idea for this poem from the “four major artistic orientations” of the “rhetorical triangle,” as illustrated in M.H. Abrams' The Mirror and the Lamp (1953). The four points being mimetic (universal), pragmatic (audience), expressive (romantic), and objective (work). Each stanza is meant to reflect one of the orientations and is set to follow the timeline in which they occurred historically. Think Johnson, Blake, Wordsworth, then Elliot. The form is blank verse, though I have an affinity for rhyme that I’ve not been able to shake yet, try as I might.