Merton Lee (1969 / Singapore)
On Reading Wordsworth's Daffodils (New Version 2014)
“Why are you not joining the Humanoid Race?
Why are you not joining the Money-Glazed World?
Are these penniless-bleak winds eating you alive?
Are these cryptic quiet and calm making you mindless?
Why are you wasting time reading Wordsworth?
This is a Globalized, Money-Making, Humanoid World!
We don’t need outdated things like poetry!
We only need money-glazed business knowledge and science.”
A stout, six-feet-tall man, in mid-twenties,
in refined tie and coat, carrying a suitcase and a laptop,
suddenly shouted at me,
as he sat down beside me that morning.
He glared at me with round, red-streaked, insomniac eyes,
like two burning hazel nuts that sank inside pale sockets.
His broad forehead gleamed with beads of sweat.
His eye-brows aggressively thick were frowning,
like two well-practiced, inward-slanting, artistic dashes
of dark ink from a classical Chinese portrait.
They sat on a squarish, muscles-taut face,
almond-shaped, with biscuit-thin ears,
short, spiky, crow-black hair at the crown,
a stiff, elongated, handsome nose,
and pale-pink, saliva-moistened, flat lips
with the shape of a platypus’ beak.
They undulated like a mini earthquake when he shouted,
like he had been holding back a wall of emotions a long time,
all suppressed within a well-sculpted, humanoid-smooth,
It gave me the impression he might have been over-strained
by a tough body-building regime.
He continued to bellow:
'Why are you shabbily dressed, bony, under-nourished?
Why do you appear contented but unwanted,
sitting on this bench in a city park?
Why aren't you busy making money?
It's sinful to be contented in the modern world.
You must be driven by desires.
Don't waste your time reading Wordsworth.
Don't ever look contented.
Go, quickly learn how to become indispensable.
Commodify your thinking and mindset.
Better still, commodify your soul and consciousness.
Become a highly marketable product.
Polish, market, promote yourself
to your bosses, clients, potential clients.
Ensure you are a highly value-add asset
that keeps adding profit.
No, that won't be enough.
You must keep sharpening your knives
Character-assassinate your rivals
in unseen, soundless ways.
Win the favor of your bosses
in artful, thick-skinned ways.
Upgrade yourself, enroll in courses
on winning workplace strategies and tactics.
If not, we don’t need you.
We don’t need an escapist reader of poems.
Now get out of my sight! '
Slowly I replied, “Please bear with me
if my presence irritated you in some way.
I am too common, too small, too human,
with few wishes and simple joy.
Hope to discover the Timeless in Wordsworth’s lines.
Hope to discover inner balance in this morning calm.
I can only live one day at a time in the strength of God.
I can only contribute in small, poetic ways.
I can only do small things with love.
My idol is Mother Teresa.
I’ll walk away now, less promptly,
due to ailment as I reach forty-five,
due to encroaching-oldness in my knees and legs.
Please bear with me and please do not over-strain yourself.
God loves you. We are all His children.
We are never unwanted.
We are always employed by Him.
If I appear useless and unwanted to you,
I am also a tool used by Him
to develop faith, compassion and love in you.
In that Higher sense, we are always useful to Him.
Nothing can separate us from His love.
We will return Home someday.'
I walked away slowly.
I sensed that his venting lightened his heart.
I could empathize with his sadness.
I encountered a fair share of difficult bosses when young.
Perhaps I have become a kind of quaint, old-fashioned vessel,
lessening his anger and passing moods.
Perhaps I have become a kind of inward eye
that sees humanly cheerful daffodils,
born from reading Wordsworth.
A Whisper came:
“Today, you have passed.”
Comments about this poem (On Reading Wordsworth's Daffodils (New Version 2014) by Merton Lee )
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