Man is Not Mind Alone

Much as a word cannot be merely
Vacant utterance of sound,
And as the tides must flow within
A residence of watery ground,

So must our thoughts which seem to dance
As spirits in some ether's space
Yet flow within our fleshly form
Too often by our words disgraced.

The string that weaves harmonious notes,
The poet who smithies out his lays,
The artist who engraves in stone
Or by the brush his worth displays:

These cannot make, save they are made
And may endure in earthly guise,
Nor can they sing or write or paint
If circumstance bids otherwise.

The string, to sound, must first be touched
By scraping bow or plucking hand.
The artist must be moved to art
By his travels on the land

Whether in fact or in the works
Of other artists long-since passed,
It's only through such wanderings
Creation's parts may be amassed

And fused with the insightful spark
Into those bright, enduring wholes
We call great art, but foolishly
Attribute to unbodied souls.

No beauty can be emancipated
From its substance any more
Than rigid statues can persist
When time dissolves their marble core.

The mind is like a symphony;
Our body forms the instruments.
Our lives and our fellows write the score;
Our thoughts are living monuments

To what is gone and what is here
And how well we have been loved
Both by ourselves and by our brothers;
And the way the flesh must move

Through youth and age, desire and dearth,
Disease and hunger, changing seasons.
We feel and strive and yearn forgetting
Circumstance begot our reasons.

But is this such a damning thing?
Does it make the mind less holy:
That it must breathe and, breathing, step
In patterned choreography

With all existence? It seems foolish
To denounce the mind for being
"A mere extension of the body".
In doing so, we are but fleeing

Nature's self-preserving sense
Which keeps us living on this earth
To love and work our wonders here:
Mind and flesh are one from birth!

Whichever part you hold most dear,
Consider the other as the same,
And care for both, if you would win
Such joy as might fall to your name.

George Chadderdon © 1996