Water

Here is the my complete “Heroic Crown” sonnet cycle, Water.  A Heroic Crown of sonnets works like this:  The final line of each sonnet becomes the first line of the next until the 14th sonnet.  The final line of the 14th sonnet is the first line of the first sonnet…bringing the series “full circle”.  The cycle is then “crowned” with a 15th sonnet that contains the first lines, in order, or the preceding 14 pieces.

PART I – CALM

The calm hides a constant motion and change
and we tend to forget that there is more
than what appears within visual range
from our limited vantage on the shore
Below the surface is where things get real
from ocean’s depth to the shallowest pool
the king on one day may soon be a meal
where eat or be eaten’s the only rule
We look at the surface but do not get
that there is so much that we don’t perceive
perhaps we know things in theory, but yet
sometimes it can be so hard to believe
That deep below, minnows are chased by bass
when the water’s surface seems smooth as glass

PART II – GLASS

When the water’s surface seems smooth as glass
and the sunlight glints off in such a way
that it does a shifting dance on marsh grass
the very movement of light will betray
that the surface isn’t nearly as still
as we were, at first, tempted to believe.
There are many things in this world that will
appear one way but may actually deceive…
or surprise if we take a closer glance.
So open your eyes and look if you dare
it may be worth it if you take the chance!
But then again, we might get a scare.
So we close our eyes…but in the exchange
We miss so much of what’s wondrous and strange

PART III – WONDROUS AND STRANGE

We miss so much of what’s wondrous and strange.
Sometimes because we don’t know where to look
but often, by our own choice we arrange
to see what we wish, and to let the brook
carry us in its current, unconcerned
about where we’ve been or where we head
and in our aimless drifting, we have learned
nothing of lasting value, but instead
squander the experience of the trip
never content to observe as we go.
Therefore many opportunities slip
us by before we choose to see them. So
Think of all the things we miss as we pass
hidden in the water and the marsh grass

PART IV – HIDDEN

Hidden in the water and the marsh grass,
seemingly safe in its secluded spot
is a nest that we could easily pass
by and never realize is there if not
for a careful observation of where
a couple of mallards come from and go.
The mother sits on ten eggs, and soon there
will be some ducklings swimming to and fro
…at least, as long as that nest is not found
by some creature that has an appetite
for eggs…like a water snake that is bound
to steal those orbs like a thief in the night.
Nothing is for certain, because in life
beneath the surface there is hidden strife

PART V – STRIFE

Beneath the surface there is hidden strife.
In a game that is millenia old
a fish cuts through the water like a knife
in pursuit of fleeing prey. She is cold-
blooded by nature and biology
and feels no guilt for the lives that she takes
as she merely does what’s needed to be
still alive at the day’s end…but she makes
one error, and predator becomes prey
Her gelatinous eggs, all that is left
of her, glued to some reeds. This is the way
the cycle continues. She’s not bereft
And thus, in this manner is played the game
struggle to survive is the highest aim

PART VI – HIGHEST AIM

Struggle to survive is the highest aim
in the wild. Whether woods, meadow, or pond
this fight for life is a constant. The same
desire resides in all creatures. Beyond
the basic drive to seek out food and drink,
shelter and companionship is the need
to be alive. I doubt that fish can think
of what’s beyond life, but they would all plead,
if they could, to hang on to it. To thrive
and continue, unending ’til time’s end.
Too many, though, of one fish would deprive
the rest. This problem, only death can mend.
It may seem strange, but there’s a place for strife
Some are destroyed that others can have life.

PART VII – SOME/OTHERS

Some are destroyed that others can have life.
The fish that are bigger and faster seem
to have the advantage. The pond if rife
with examples of “might makes right.” This theme
repeats, though, with the smaller picking on
the smaller still, ’til microscopic consume
what dies on its own. This is how it’s gone
since The Beginning. Changing this would doom
this ecosystem, causing stagnancy.
Therefore, it is safe for us to assume
that death is part of how life needs to be.
Whether big or small, it is all the same
The victors and victims play the same game.

PART VIII – THE GAME

The victors and victims play the same game
of hide and seek, chase and flee. Every fish
is seeking out prey while at the same
time trying not to be some other’s dish.
On a calm, cloudless day, though, as we gaze
at the serene surface, we miss the chase
that is happening deep below the blaze
of the sun. Nor are we willing to face
the fact that such a placid looking spot
could be so turbulent down at the core.
Take the time to observe that things are not
always what they seem, but there may be more.
Although the peace might try to have you conned,
Don’t be fooled by the silent seeming pond.

PART IX – DON’T BE FOOLED

Don’t be fooled by the silent seeming pond.
Were we to submerge ourselves down below
the calm surface so we could look beyond
what we usually see, we’d observe so
much more. Sight alone, however, only
tells us part of the whole story. How will
eyes show the miraculous mystery
of photosynthesis? Do we have skill
enough to see, with our unaided sight,
the mono-cellular life forms that make
up a critical part of the mix? Might
“seeing is believing” be a mistake?
It’s easy to be blinded by our sight
Remember that there’s more than greets the light!

PART X – LIGHT

Remember that there’s more than greets the light
of the sun with appreciation for
the gift of vision. For instance, we might
consider pond algae. For it, what more
is the sun than a tool that allows
carbon dioxide to be turned to food
(and merely as a wast-product, endows
the world with oxygen)? It may seem crude
to think of light reduced to less than it
is, but it’s a matter of point of view.
Is there more than we perceive? Are we fit
to claim wisdom, or are we “algae” too?
Of basing things on sight, we’re much too fond
Besides the things we see, there’s what’s beyond.

PART XI – BEYOND

Besides the things we see there’s what’s beyond
our faculty to know. We could study
for a lifetime, the creatures of the pond
and we would still get merely a muddy
glimpse of all there is to know. There’s always
more to learn, and there’s much that will never
be understood by us. Our knowledge stays
slight, despite our continued endeavor
to learn all that we can. It’s not too late
for us to understand: true wisdom starts
when we realize that no matter how great
our knowledge grows, we’ll know only in part.
Mere knowledge on its own won’t bring to light
the things that are not visible to sight.

PART XII – THINGS NOT VISIBLE

The things that are not visible to sight
have, perhaps, an even greater affect
on the pond than that which can be seen. Slight
changes in temperature may subject
the pond to too much algae, or may cause
an inhospitable environment
in some other way. Too long of a pause
in between rainfalls may also present
serious problems for the pond life. Rain
and sun, though, in just the right proportion
will let the pond prosper, and this domain
will continue to thrive beneath the sun.
For its creatures: from fish to single cell
The water has its stories fair and fell.

PART XIII – STORIES

The water has its stories.  Fair and fell
seeming creatures live and die, procreate
and destroy. From the smallest single cell
to the largest fish, don’t underestimate
the value of each resident being.
The pond’s healthiness will always depend
on each part playing its role. By freeing
it of any part, the balance would end.
Maybe with time, a balance might be made
again, but the pond would be weaker. Less
than what it was or should be. A poor trade
for this pond and all its bountifulness.
Beneath the surface, so many things dwell
with mysteries too numerous to tell.

PART XIV – MYSTERIES

With mysteries too numerous to tell,
water will always have something to teach
us, if we but choose to learn. Sit, a spell
by the water’s edge. Take your arm and reach
as deep down as you can. Savour the cool
feel of the water. Marvel at the thought
that each drop of water within this pool
contains life. The glass-like surface should not
cause you to believe that there’s nothing here
worth studying. On the contrary, as
the cover of a novel may appear
unlike the script, there’s more that water has!
So much is not within visual range
The calm hides a constant motion and change.

PART XV – MOTION AND CHANGE

The calm hides a constant motion and change
when the water’s surface seems smooth as glass.
We miss so much of what’s wondrous and strange
hidden in the water and the marsh grass.
Beneath the surface there is hidden strife;
struggle to survive is the highest aim.
Some are destroyed that others can have life:
The victors and victims play the same game.
Don’t be fooled by the silent seeming pond.
Remember that there’s more than greets the light.
Besides the things we see, there’s what’s beyond:
the things that are not visible to sight
The water has it’s stories, fair and fell
with mysteries too numerous to tell

7 thoughts on “Water

  1. sitting here to read your work on WATER fills me with much emotion as I experience what you write about /// hard to express but be assured I feel the depth in which you write!!

  2. this should be a “must read” for students entering & finishing high school &&a pre marital class 🙂 thanx for allowing me into your “room “of verse through “thought” !!

  3. So glad I read all of this, Bryan. I am almost speechless as far as comments as your obvious sonnet skills are beyond my expertise. I especially love the theme and where you took it…to so many thoughtful and insightful places. These lines from Part XI Beyond, really spoke to me….

    “true wisdom starts
    when we realize that no matter how great
    our knowledge grows, we’ll know only in part.
    Mere knowledge on its own won’t bring to light
    the things that are not visible to sight.”

    So true!

  4. Pingback: Song of Fire – Part V – As the Embers Fade and then Glow Anew | Quest for Whirled Peas

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