Monday, February 20, 2006

Duke Altum's Poem of the Week #25

The toys may have changed over the years, but the spirit is exactly the same... for the 25th poem of the series, I present a personal tribute to my sons. Robert Louis Stevenson's classic poem reminds me so much of what I am blessed to see every day on the floors and tabletops of our family home... may the raging fires of your imaginations never be extinguished, boys! Daddy loves all three of you more than he can say...


Block City

What are you able to build with your blocks?
Castles and palaces, temples and docks.
Rain may keep raining, and others go roam,
But I can be happy and building at home.

Let the sofa be mountains, the carpet be sea,
There I'll establish a city for me:
A kirk and a mill and a palace beside,
And a harbour as well where my vessels may ride.

Great is the palace with pillar and wall,
A sort of a tower on the top of it all,
And steps coming down in an orderly way
To where my toy vessels lie safe in the bay.

This one is sailing and that one is moored:
Hark to the song of the sailors aboard!
And see, on the steps of my palace, the kings
Coming and going with presents and things!

Now I have done with it, down let it go!
All in a moment the town is laid low.
Block upon block lying scattered and free,
What is there left of my town by the sea?

Yet as I saw it, I see it again,
The kirk and the palace, the ships and the men,
And as long as I live and where'er I may be,
I'll always remember my town by the sea.


Mutt Ploughman said...

Duke's POTW Series Beats With a Father's Heart

Best POTW yet from Duke Altum, and I can tell you that those three sons of his merit the tribute. While this may not be the best poem aesthetically that he has posted, it comes from the right place, and draws attention to the right things. The question remains for all who want to create art: 'What are you able to build with your blocks'? If you're Duke's sons, you can build a whole lot, those guys never stop.......not that I get to see 'em enough! Spirited, heartfelt post from the poetry source for The Thread. Recommended for further reading: 'Worry', 'Truck Boy'

Duke Altum said...

O Mighty Mutt, Faithful Reader of the POTW Series!

I appreciate your compliments both on the selection AND on my "wee wanes"... Good point too re: the question "What are you able to build...?" One thing I like about this poem is the tacit acknowledgement of the link between innocence and wonder, which is our rightful and proper orientation to the world... and how that wonder often expresses itself in creativity, which is a sort of human participation in the work of the Divine. RLS' poem doesn't touch on all that, but it does remind me of those truths... but then that's the point of a lot of what is posted on this blog. It may not explicitly point to God, but it does lead you to Him eventually... a "secret thread" shows us the way.

I Am Not What I Am said...

The most beautiful aspect of that poem is that its transcendat. While I don't have boys (as you know), it immediately made me think of one moment from the past summer where my oldest daughter and I had concerts on her bedroom floor with all her stuffed animals on her floor (every night) for over a month. A really beautiful reminder that when you have kids, every room becomes chock full of memories.

Mutt Ploughman said...

Great comment by 'I Am Not'....who truly does put in the time to share memories with his kids......Duke, solid dialogue generated here by your POTW series!!

Duke Altum said...

I too really appreciated IANWIA's comment... I can see in my mind's eye he & G. sitting on the floor, making memories like that... it's exactly the same principle. It is one of the amazing gifts that comes with parenthood, that we are given a chance to see the world again (sort of) through the wise eyes of innocence... this thread (no pun intended) reminds me of that great, profound passage from Mr. G. K. Chesterton (in 'Orthodoxy'), a man who truly understood such things:

"...A child kicks its legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, 'Do it again'; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough... It is possible that God says every morning, 'Do it again,' to the sun; and every evening, 'Do it again,' to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike: it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we."