Daniel Brick

Gold Star - 85,390 Points (June 10,1947 / St. Paul MN)

On The Human Condition - Poem by Daniel Brick

"Wanderer, there is no path. There is only the walking."
(Inscription on a monastery wall in Toledo, Spain.)

"Wanderer... " (The Body)

Wanderer, tell me where
you have been, and I will
know who you are. Tell me
where you are going,
and you will be a mystery
to me. What will you say?
Does the past hang over
your path like a broad-brimmed
hat, blocking your sight
of immediate things?
You must practice leaning
backward stretching your neck,
craning your eyes. These gestures
will make the world visible,
even as darkness drops
from the sky, slips through cloud
banks, gets entangled
in the leafless trees
of this low country
and spreads across
the rough ground
like a stalking beast.
I see you are a man
of high country habits:
you move too fast for this clime.
You will arrive too soon
at your destinations, people
won't be ready for you, they
will struggle to find conversation
which suits you. They will spill
precious beverages trying
to serve you. And the premature wine
will lack flavor... But somewhere
on our crowd of citizens, you will find
one dazed denizen who speaks
your language, even with your accents.
It will be a homecoming of sorts
as you share favorite poems
each of you has learned by heart.
When you retire for the night
in a makeshift bed even the blankets
will remind you of your lost homeland.
And the grief you have carried
for days and nights past counting
will fall into the deepest abyss
of sleeping and vanish.

"... There is no path.... "(The Mind)

Knowledge plays tricks
on us: it pretends to be
universal, when it is only
local. It promises happiness
to those who strive to learn,
but its pursuit brings loads
of sorrows the learner must
carry - for how long? But
the mind is cavernous, its
sorrowload is scattered over
the floors of thought, and
the burden lightens over time.
Two types of learners contend
to make their knowledge swell
in relevance: some sit in chairs
or walk under arbored lanes
as they contemplate in silence
the nature of things. Others sit
at desks and in a frenzy of writing
produce page after page of erudite
speculation or dazzling fantasy.
Which is the worthier occupation?
I myself, a mere dilettante beset
on both sides by these passionate
advocates, have sampled both. I conclude:
on odd days writing trumps contemplation.
On even days - Oh, take your pick!
When the South Wind breezes through
our campus on its passage to the sea,
then the writers breathe in its dense
energy, and write passages of amazing
and incandescent wonder. Meanwhile,
those in contemplation breathe the same
charged air, and their thoughts, still
and focused, permeate space and lodge
in minds like mine and we sense
a heightened awareness render us
still and focused. When this mood
of mind fades, we will read
the writers' frenzied words, words, words.

"... There is only the walking."(The Soul)

I am the third speaker. It is my time
to turn time into purpose and purpose
into triumph! Have your heard of this
philosophy? It goes by various names
but its essence never changes. It tells us:
you can do what you will, but first
you must prepare that god within, your s-o-u-l,
to receive its truth from itself. That is
the abundance within that continually
pours its power into body and mind and
MAKES YOU WHOLE... The only sin is
laziness. So stand up, brush the crumbs
from your shirt, grab your cane, and take
the first big step into your future.
And the steps will almost magically
follow one after another, and your body
will assume a gait in sync with the currents
of your mind, energized by the power
of your soul, in the fullness of your being.
And your mantra evermore will be: There is only the walking.

Topic(s) of this poem: fable, soul

Comments about On The Human Condition by Daniel Brick

  • (11/4/2017 1:20:00 PM)

    I enjoy your philosophical writings and the argument about what makes us human is the body, the mind, and the spirit....is a pervasive one...but I gather that perhaps this isn't really what the speaker(s) are saying at all is it? Taking all of these aspects and rolling them into a story, a fable that ends with the quote inscribed on a monastery wall, There is only the walking, reminds me that despite everything (including religion) there is only the walking, the filling of the time that we have on this earth with no specific path. I loved that opening line...tell me where you have been and I will know you or tell me where you're going and you will be a mystery to me. It isn't about where we may end up, it's about where we are right now and where we have been. But then you write (beautifully I might add...love the brim image) about how the past is like a broad-brimmed hat that blocks one's vision of what is in front of them now...that one needs to lean back and get a broader perspective beyond the only one they've known. And then the comment that the speaker makes to the wanderer...You arrive too soon at your destinations....a man before his time. Liked that....And then there is the mind and the contemplations....a worthy endeavor...but even more satisfying when the contemplations can form into words, words, words.....And now for the third speaker....the soul....who can turn time into purpose and purpose into triumph! This triumph, the speaker asserts, is becoming ONE WHOLE BEING....not body, nor mind, nor spirit, just ONE being that can put one foot in front of the other and experience the world, and himself fully within it. At this point, we've reached a state of peace and happiness and oneness with everything. At this point there is no path, no human, there is just the walking, the being. To me, this is a state of heaven....though there is no heaven, there is only the walking. Beautifully written. (Report)Reply

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  • Glen Kappy (11/1/2017 8:44:00 AM)


    this poem strikes me as ambitious (in a good sense—it's the word that comes readily to mind) . ambitious because of what you undertake in it. but what is characteristic of your writing, it doesn't feel like you labored long in the writing—it flows.

    you probably know the overall title for my poetry is while passing through. the title, as i recall, just came to me. and, of course, it recalls the idea of us as sojourners, and for me specifically that sojourner abraham (father of arabs and jews, and many peoples—a hebrew but not a jew, not a christian or a muslim, a man who was just a man that heard a call and went) .

    i'm not sure i get all you're saying here. this is a time i wish we could sit across a table from one another, and i could ask you questions. but here are standout lines for me:

    Does the past hang over
    your path like a broad-brimmed
    hat, blocking your sight
    of immediate things?
    (great image and question!)

    the mind is cavernous, its
    sorrowload is scattered over
    the floors of thought

    I conclude:
    on odd days writing trumps contemplation.
    On even days - Oh, take your pick!
    (something in us impels us to create, yes? but what would there be worthy of creation if not preceded by contemplation?)

    There is only the walking.
    (this because it's the perfect conclusion. when we think we're finished walking, we're closed and finished to awe, to vibrant living.) one small technical thing on this, daniel, i wonder why you didn't make this the last line by itself instead of the extra-long line it shares now?

    good stuff! it's why i visit your poems.


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  • Bill Cantrell (10/30/2017 2:33:00 PM)

    Ah, the point of reference is perspective, walking, motion either in thoughts, hopes or worth, a fascinating piece of work Daniel! ! I wil have to read this a few times more (Report)Reply

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  • Rini Shibu (10/30/2017 10:54:00 AM)

    You can do what you will but first you must prepare the soul to receive the truth which pours its power into body and mind and makes you whole.. There is only walking. A philosophical write, enjoyed reading Daniel (Report)Reply

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Poem Submitted: Monday, October 30, 2017

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