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Well Dressed

by Zettel 

Posted: 11 June 2018
Word Count: 182

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Well Dressed
We are woven into the warp and weft of life
Time and space run over under, under over
Now here, now there, now and then, then and now
Choice looms, action threads
We know the single length and width of every yarn
Relish some, others hide; and struggle with the rest
The pattern they create may deviate from intent
In the shuttle back and forth of event, repetition rules
The fabric of our lives the outcome of desire
The cloth resulting from our willful hand
May differ from what we planned.
This piece of cloth once made, awaits design
The nips and tucks of experience
Fashion the unique cut and style of self
Colour: muted, safe; daring bold;
Textured by need, desire the necessity of choice
The sacrifice of what to have; what to hold
The love released, set free; hopes left behind
Doubts stilled, not resolved or shed;
The truth of accepting pain; not to mind
Pockets here and there of memory: times present, moments past
Imperfect crooked seams of life
that love and loyalty nonetheless hold fast

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Comments by other Members

joanie at 23:49 on 11 June 2018  Report this post
HI Zettel,

I love the the sentiments in this.   The opening line is beautifully true.  I like the sustained metaphor of cloth, clothes, textures, sewing, etc.

l love repetition;   lines 2 and 3 are wonderful, with a real feel of a weaving shed's rhythm.

I thoroughly enjoyed this.  I keep returning.  Excellent read, Z!


Zettel at 02:02 on 12 June 2018  Report this post
Thanks Joan. Glad you liked it. I wonndered whether I'd overdone the metaphor: so pleased it worked for you.




James Graham at 21:31 on 12 June 2018  Report this post
Hello Zettel – This is quite a remarkable realisation of a metaphor of life as a weaving of cloth. It could even be called variations on a theme. (I don't think you overdo the metaphor at all; there seems to be something new at every stage.) As the group is getting busy again I will give you my first ‘take’ on the poem, and then later perhaps have more to say.
First we contemplate the ‘threads’ of time and space, which seem to form a pattern, but a complex one:
Time and space run over under, under over
Now here, now there, now and then, then and now
Space-time theories are in the background here, but also our more immediate awareness of time. ‘Now and then, then and now’ suggest to me the way in which moments in the past can seem ‘like yesterday’; we pick up those threads, as it were, and weave them into the present. I don’t mean simply that we learn from experience, making a better decision now because we made a worse one then; I mean an unforgettable time in the past can seem so much a part of now that it changes our perspective on the present.
This opening idea is picked up towards the end of the poem:
                                  not to mind
Pockets here and there of memory: times present, moments past
There’s a ‘variation’ here, in that we learn ‘not to mind’ those persistent memories; we learn not to allow the more regrettable ones to colour our present lives.
Then, in the rest of the first stanza, something very true:
The cloth resulting from our willful hand
May differ from what we planned.
I like the way you evoke the actual work of weaving – hand-loom weaving in the old-fashioned way. We are not very good at it. The ‘pattern’ we create by our life choices is in the end rather a haphazard one. But perhaps it doesn’t have to be perfectly symmetrical in order to be pleasing?
I’m sure there is more to say, but in the meantime I would be interested in your own thoughts on the poem.

Zettel at 00:21 on 13 June 2018  Report this post
Thanks James

Sometimes a poem is prompted by a single idea: often in my case a philosophical idea than can be seen to resonate in our everyday lives in a way that sadly much higly technical contemporary academic philosophy does not. Also Wittgenstein spent most of his life questioning traditional philosophical ways of thinking and arguing by appealing to the 'ordinary' language of our everyday lives: and finding much philosophical depth there.

So with Russion Doll it was simply the idea of 'knowing' another mind which is a very dry somewhat analytic debate in Philosophy: but a fascinatiing one in our mental emotional lives. Interestingly, if one tries to run with the emotional, personal relationship issues one finds that that in trun circles back to distinctly philosophical questions much more interesting than those posed by taking the logical analytic approach from the start. So I like to think that while it is clear that my philosophy affects my poetry; my poetry also affects my philosophy.

However, sometimes; as in this case I will just be attracted to a word, or more often a phrase which seems to resonate beyond the context in which it cane up: In this case I just warmed to the expression  'warp and weft' and discovering what this actually meant in weaving, its power as a poetic metaphor intrigued me. The rest was just to explore  the metaphor and see if it widened out interstingly; or as sometimes is the case; it has less poetic 'juice' than initially it appeared.  This one seemd to keep working as the parallels between the weaving fabric case and our selves and our lives seemed apt.  Ideas like the fact that a single thread gies you nothing: only when creatively brought together does a pattern emerge. I liked especially the idea that the processs of weaving is precise, physically definitive, rule-gioverned ie requiring 'obededience' and precise repetition etc. And yet from these finite, precise rules of process; creative imagination and even surprising outcomes can occur. So the more I examined the process the more aptly metaphorical it seemd to become. The rest was a matter to vacabulary and trying to get the rhythms right. I very nearly tried to write the poem conforming entirely to the distinctive rhythm of  the weaving loom but I quickly concluded that while this could be interesting it would emphasise 'form' at the expense of content: and it was the content that attracted me most.

I don't know whether this adds anything to one's appreciation of the poem. I did abandon an effort at a third stanza: as it seemed to me to become repetitive in a bad way and to literally stretch the metaphor too far.

We understimate the richness of repetition: it is central to a child;s acquisition of language and even the beautiful fractal images of madlebrot sets etc (found in the natural world in the patterned shapes of ferms and coastlines etc etc) can be generated by programming a computer to simply reproduce endless repetitions and iterations of the simplest of steps. Another way this has been put is that 'if you would command Nature, first you must obey her (sailboat)..

I'm rambling. Simply: words and phrases sometimes act like 'pebbles' in the mind. And it's fun to follow where the ripples lead.



James Graham at 21:36 on 14 June 2018  Report this post
Thank you for this interesting account of how you took up the metaphor of weaving. Starting with the key words ‘warp and weft’, the metaphor certainly does develop interestingly; the parallels are apt right to the end of the poem. You were probably right not to attempt a third stanza, as the central idea of the poem seems complete as it is.
Previously I didn’t say much about the second stanza, but it works well too. On first reading I did think it was losing the metaphor, but one reading of a good poem is never enough, and now I don’t think it loses the metaphor at all. Though the middle lines don’t explicitly mention the actual work of weaving, all that has been well established in the first stanza, and so when we come to love, hope, doubts, pain, memory, all those vital, central elements in all our lives, we realise: they are ‘woven’ too. Anyway, the metaphor is sustained at the beginning of the stanza, including the very telling words ‘Colour’ and ‘textured’, and in the last two lines. So I have no reservations about your successful realisation of this metaphor.
My eagle eye noticed what may be a punctuation error: should there be a semicolon after ‘Doubts stilled’? It seems to read better as
Doubts stilled, not resolved or shed;
Thank you for this poem. It has been very interesting and rewarding to read and think about.

Zettel at 00:26 on 16 June 2018  Report this post
Thanks again James. You're right of course on punctuation - duly altered.



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