Michael Shepherd

Rookie (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)

Seeking Metaphor

Poem by Michael Shepherd

Metaphor’s the soul of poetry:
this incongruous instrument of speech
with which we say one thing,
when we mean quite another:

I wish that Shakespeare, its greatest English user,
had coined a truly English word for it –
or perhaps, those blunt and foursquare Anglo-Saxons
who came before; their words as hand-hewn as are spades –

the word comes from the Greek, and means a transference;
‘My lord, your transference is apt and shrewd…’
no, even that’s but transferred to a Latin stem,
‘carrying across’. Too late to seek some native word –
a ‘thoughtshift’ or a ‘mindmatch’ then?

We wear it down, and make it less
by thoughtless grabbing at the candy-jars
upon the shelves of sweetshops of our speech,
as if to mimic poetry that we haven't earned..

but at its height, a metaphor shines like new light;
bringing together, two images so disparate
and making of their neighbouring, a moment magical in memory
as if we’d never seen the world so brilliant
or so revealing; moments when the mind’s a god,
and life itself a metaphor; a glimpse
that somewhere, two things mentioned meet
under the astonished, single gaze of eternity itself..

Metaphor’s a holy sacrament: one should never dare
to use it without some faint echo, of a moment clear recalled
when that which one refers to, came dazzling bright into the mind
as life transfigured to another world,
time lifted to the timeless;
the radiance of the world’s first day,
Creation, in itself, one glorious godly metaphor..
and nothing ever less than one.

Comments about Seeking Metaphor by Michael Shepherd

  • Tara very irritated with PH injustice (4/25/2007 10:26:00 AM)

    What a gracefully flowing, packed piece M. I'm in love with the last stanza, in particular: I find it wonderfully inspiring and memorable. Thank you for this. It is a true piece of artistry. t x(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
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  • Amanda Lukas (4/25/2007 9:45:00 AM)

    Quite thoughtful. All this talk about metaphors leaves me craving more poetry, more metaphors.(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
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  • Scarlett Treat (4/25/2007 9:19:00 AM)

    Leave it to Danny to find the 'play on words' that he does so well...but as for myself, I love that one line...'time lifted to the timeless.' That, to me, contains the relevance of our writing..to take time and lift it into something for the ages...
    yes, a 'thoughtshift.' Perfect wording, IMHO. Scarlett(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
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  • Archie Langford (4/25/2007 9:18:00 AM)

    When I was in engineeringI was often asked 'What do you want that
    metalfor'? a.l(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • David Taylor (4/25/2007 9:06:00 AM)

    Metaphor is not comparison it is revealing the same oneness in all. A metaphor is a lifting of a veil that said there was ever any difference there at all!(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Danny Reynolds (4/25/2007 8:17:00 AM)

    In Glezga, its a stranger. Sumbiddy ye've never metaphor.(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Poem Edited: Thursday, February 17, 2011