If I Could Explain My Loneliness As, Say The Pacific, Vast And Deep Poem by Dennis Ryan

If I Could Explain My Loneliness As, Say The Pacific, Vast And Deep

Rating: 5.0

April 29,2005

'I understand what Carolin [Emcke] meant about victims of violence and trauma experiencing solitude.'
- Svetlana Alexievich during an interview on Book tv, C-Span 2, recorded April 25,2005

'Man is the measure of all things.'
- a Classical maxim; a Renaissance motto

If I could explain my loneliness—if say, I chose a vehicle, and said,
vast, deep, as the Pacific, you could measure the distance and plumb
the depths as if conducting research, a study unlike Leonardo's on proportion.
As if.And if, say, I said again, extended the metaphor in this way—
My loneliness is as vast and deep as the Pacific when Vasco de Balboa
beheld it for a second time from the Isthmus; picture him facing the Pacific
to feel how he must have felt, this lone individual, this time-bereft explorer
now bereft of companions, this thin, black, slightly crooked line of a man
thin as a twig facing this endless blue expanse, the ocean roaring in his head,
his amazement gone, replaced instead by this vast blue turmoil he stands before,
sensing the gulf, the immensity over his right shoulder separating him
from king, country, family, lover, friends—Spain now a world away—
then, if you have travelled through time and space, accompanied me
and this Spaniard of five hundred years ago, touched his shoulder
as he faced the great Pacific, alone, you will have approached me,
my tenor, felt my solitude, and my depths will have shallowed,
my vastnesses shrunken to meet yours in due measure and true
proportion on this boundless blue Pacific.

The speaker of the poem imagines his feelings of solitude as being on a par with those of Vasco de Balboa, the Spanish explorer who was the first European to view the Pacific Ocean from the American continent.
Dennis Ryan 08 March 2019

Finally, your and my way of expressing solitude, etc. may be different, yet they are equally valid, as far as I can see, as responses to our subjective, individual experiences, many of which you and I share. Thanks for reading the poem, and for your post. Dennis

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Dennis Ryan 08 March 2019

This elaborate metaphor or conceit may seem hyperbolic, but it is not in terms of how I have felt at times. It would take a lot of explaining here to explain why I created this metaphor, but a short answer lies in the two epigraphs to the poem: i.e. " man (and woman) as the measure of all things" , and yet the incredible cruelty that some people are capable of shows their measure.

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Dennis Ryan 08 March 2019

Lorraine, yes, as if Vasco de Balboa, standing on a promontory overlooking the Pacific, looked back over his right shoulder, in the direction of the Atlantic Ocean, sensing the immense distance between where he stood on the Isthmus of Panama and his homeland of Spain as an immense loneliness.

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Lorraine Colon 07 March 2019

Anyone who has experienced loneliness - the bewilderment of not sensing any presence around even though being in a crowded room - will understand your poem. I imagine there are different degrees of loneliness. But the kind you describe here could only be told in the manner you have chosen. Not having the literary skills you do, I would simply say it feels like being the last person left on Earth. But I enjoyed your word-painting so much more.

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Dennis Ryan

Dennis Ryan

Wellsville, New York
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