Poem: ‘So Listen Now’

      So listen now to what the prophet saith, 
          He teaches anything, he gladly learns, 
             He follows scientists and what they say, 
             And now, Philosophy of DNA. 
           Regard the spiral of it as it turns, 
      And listen now to what the prophet saith: 
  The two as one, entwining intercourse, 
Then separate from toes to very head, 
And, separated, seek another bed, 
  Their separation procreation’s cause. 
      So listen now to what the prophet saith— 
           And this the canniballed male spider learns, 
                Eaten by her, as her he’d try to lay, 
                Who procreates in separation’s day— 
           No spark of love or life or hate there burns, 
      But, listen now to what the prophet saith, 
      Only a life of procreating death. 

Another of my early poems: I wrote this when I was 17, in my last year at school. DNA was still a newish concept to the general public, and it appealed to my nihilistic teenage state of mind. My opinions decades later are still pretty similar, though my attitudes are much more relaxed and happy.

I had been thoroughly immersed in iambic pentameter by then, studying several of the Canterbury Tales, several of Shakespeare’s plays, and a whole slew (or slough) of poets from Donne and Milton to Cummings and Frost–learn enough poetry by heart, and you become very comfortable writing in the forms you know. I developed the rhyme scheme to allow the indentation-by-rhyme to reflect as best I could the spiral of the subject: ABCCBADEEDABCCBAA, the rhymes winding back and forth across the much-repeated central line, ending with a couplet to round it out at 17 lines.

The poem was originally published in Metverse Muse, an Indian periodical that champions traditional verse.

Photo: “DNA rendering” by ynse is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

2 thoughts on “Poem: ‘So Listen Now’

  1. Michael Burch

    Another interesting form. If you email me this poem with your notes, I can publish the two early poems together. I have an early poem on the theme of listening to a prophet, probably written around the same age, 17 or 18. I wrote mine being very unhappy with the idea that human beings could go to “hell” for guessing wrong about which earthly religion to believe. What about mercy and justice?

    Listen
    by Michael R. Burch
    also published as Immanuel A. Michael

    Listen to me now and heed my voice;
    I am a madman, alone, screaming in the wilderness,
    but listen now.

    Listen to me now, and if I say
    that black is black, and white is white, and in between lies gray,
    I have no choice.

    Does a madman choose his words? They come to him,
    the moon’s illuminations, intimations of the wind,
    and he must speak.

    But listen to me now, and if you hear
    the tolling of the judgment bell, and if its tone is clear,
    then do not tarry,

    but listen, or cut off your ears, for I Am weary.

    Published by Penny Dreadful, The HyperTexts, the Anthologise Committee and Nonsuch High School for Girls (Surrey, England)

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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