21 thoughts on “July Challenge – Anathema Couplet

  1. Since I don’t fully understand the form (yet), I will need to think on this one…. Curious about Colin’s take on it.
    Let’s see… the Kingfisher dives with a flash, showing that they do not know the happiness of the fish… wait, that’s not it. I still, as an English teacher, go back to the essential word ‘whosoever’ – the first line says ‘the one that would know the happiness of the fish…’, but with the placement of the comma, you pull the bird into the first sentence… This makes my head hurt. I’ll be back after coffee tomorrow. (I think it was Charley who also used a comma and that messed with Colin since there are no commas in Chinese.)


    1. Yes, my head hurts too. I’m still working out all the ramifications. Is it a statement? A question? Both? About the kingfishers? About the narrator? About the fish? Just who or whom is ignorant of what exactly? LOL!

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  2. The joy of the fish is in evading that flashy, splashy diver, who shows his ignorance in going for that evasive fish. Did I catch your intent?
    The dash helped, along with coffee. Love the title, by the way!

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    1. OK, I was hoping for – a trifecta! First, the fish, regardless of their state/capability of happiness are ignorant of the kingfishers, e.g. their impending death. Are they still happy while being eaten? Second, the kingfishers are ignorant of the question entirely, and don’t really care whether the fish are happy, or that we know whether the fish are happy. The kingfishers just do what they do. Third, we as observers are shown to be ignorant in our questions, as nature is larger and unconcerned with what we think about happiness, in fish or otherwise. Lastly, the fish are dead now, so the question of their specific happiness is settled, at least temporally!

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      1. Wow. Mr Brett (or Randall?), that’s a truly thought-provoking “trifecta” scenario you painted with this one-line poetry. Sorry it took me a while to respond — ’twas a jam-packed weekend with family.

        Joy seems unknowable (to all) at the face of death … and, as you put it, perhaps “temporarily settled”. This reckoning tickles me with a near-mathematical fascination as it closes on a QED over this perhaps unprovable pondering at a condition where real-life experiences render the metaphysical meaning powerless (perhaps temporarily). Thanks for sharing your interesting multifaceted idea!

        p.s. For the record, modern Chinese do use commas … just less comatosingly! 🙂

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        1. Yes! Yes! Which I think in the end is why it is anathema, not just antithesis. In a sense it steps away and denies the first couplet. So glad you liked it! BTW, “Randall” is fine. Really appreciate this tough, compact problem.

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          1. Cheers, Randall. And thank you for spawning your philosophical eggs up and down our little river. Took me a while to read all your savvy comments made over the weekend! (And certainly a few re-readings to “try” to understand them.)


  3. The philosophy is so well packed into a single couplet; sorry I missed it. I went stratight for logic, as I tend to do, at the sentence level. Sorry if I misread an earlier remark about the commas, but I admit I like the workings of the dash in this. 🙂

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    1. Thanks, I like the dash better too. FWIW I had no expectation that anyone would unpack all that! I certainly didn’t have the wherewithal to plan it either. I stumbled upon it, as is my standard procedure, LOL!

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      1. The Id takes over and we are shocked! I had a conversation last night with a favorite poet (between those 2 cabs) about the accidental quality of poetry. A bunch of us stumbling around with pen and paper. 🙂

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        1. Yes, and I had it wrong for very many years. I thought I was supposed to have some big idea, some bright and shining image that would propel my writing forward. And maybe that exists for certain poets. But so much more interesting to stumble around not knowing, and having the words (and my Id, as you note) tell me about things. I’m much happier, and write way more. Although being a happy poet is probably Anathema. 😃

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  4. Ogden Nash, Lewis Carrol… Edgar Allen Poe — no, wait! … um, Shel Silverstein. The guys who write limericks in barroom stalls! Aren’t they all products of happy (yes, and in some cases inebriated) poetry?

    You and Jilly going back and forth has been a head-spinning discussion. Add in Colin’s lines, and I’m having to grab paper and pencil to diagram, make graphic organizers, and doodle when I’m totally over my head.

    I really enjoyed your take on the couplet!

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