ysabetwordsmith: Sheba with parrot wings (fledgling grace)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem came out of the June 3, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] chanter_greenie, [personal profile] mdlbear, and [personal profile] corvi. It also fills the "high and low" square in my 5-18-15 card for the [community profile] origfic_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. It belongs to the series Fledgling Grace.


"Shades of Morality"


There are white dove wings
and gray gull wings and
black bat wings.

There are good people
and ordinary people
and evil people.

There are angels high in heaven
and mortals on Earth
and demons below in Hell.

None of this means anything
to the atheist who walks the streets
at dusk and at dawn.

Avani does not believe
in angels or demons,
only in people.

She does not believe in castes either;
she speaks to the Brahmins and
touches the Untouchables.

She deals equally with the Hindus
and the Christians and
the Muslims.

It is all the same to her --
she believes that morality
is something we make.

Avani alone has no wings
or tail, no vanes of fur
or of feathers.

The possibility is always there,
hanging in the air, a fingertip
beyond her reach.

It is the intensity of
her belief which holds
the Fledging at bay.

There is but one question
and her answer to it
is always no.

Avani is not even tempted;
mystical enlightenment
holds no appeal for her.

She believes only in people,
and human beings,
do not bestow wings.

She raises her eyes
to the distant glint
of an airplane.

People do not need
the wings of birds or bats
in order to fly.

* * *

Notes:

The caste system in India is old and complex.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caste_system_in_India

Humanism and atheism are belief systems based on mortal rather than divine foundations. Their principles include morality without reference to gods or demons.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-04 11:16 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] lone_cat
"There angels high in heaven" -- looks like it should be "There are angels...".

"believe in casts" >> "believe in castes"

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2015-06-05 03:51 pm (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
I noticed an extraneous comma, possibly from revising the line at some point:
and human beings,
do not bestow wings.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-05 01:05 am (UTC)
capri0mni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
From: [personal profile] capri0mni
There's also Epicureanism, which was a philosophical movement founded by Epicurus. Taking up Democritus' atomic theory, Epicureanism taught/teaches that the universe came about and exists without interference from any god or demon, and that our minds and souls are a direct property of our physical bodies, and when we die (When our atoms disperse), we cease to exist.

Therefore, we need to live a good life in the here-and-now, and to help others live good lives, and to avoid suffering (Carpe diem is from an Epicurean poem). And what causes the greatest suffering is to fear the gods and to fear death.

Epicureans were/are not atheists, but rather believe that since the gods are both immortal and blessed, they're not going to bother picking fights with each other, punishing sinners, or attacking another god's pet humans (gods don't pick favorites among humans, either, anyway, so...)

Re: Wow!

Date: 2015-06-05 12:26 pm (UTC)
capri0mni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
From: [personal profile] capri0mni
What makes my eyes well up with happy!tears when I think of the teachings of Epicurus, is that, on the surface, he started from a point very close to Nietzsche (that morals emerge from human culture, rather than being handed down by Godly edicts), but ended up with an entirely opposite conclusion.

Nietzsche espoused a master-slave spectrum of morality, with Master morality (valuing pride and exercising power at the expense of humility or sympathy) to be the "Better" choice. But a manuscript of ancient sayings rediscovered in the Vatican has these fragments from Epicurus:

"While we are on the journey of life, we must try to make what is before us better than what is past; but when we come to the journey’s end, we must be content and calm."

"Friendship dances through the world bidding us all to awaken to the recognition of happiness."

And:

"The noble man is chiefly concerned with wisdom and friendship; of these, the former is good for a lifetime, and the latter is good for all time."

(or: "Whoever dies with the most friends, wins.")
Edited (cut redundant word) Date: 2015-06-05 12:27 pm (UTC)

Re: Wow!

Date: 2015-06-05 09:08 pm (UTC)
capri0mni: A black field crossed by five parallel lighting bolts in blue, gold, green, red, and purple (Default)
From: [personal profile] capri0mni
>>I suspect that Terramagne is far fonder of Epicurean rather than Stoic philosophy<<

I suspect so. Epicurus's teachings were maligned during his own time, and certainly after the rise of Christianity, as selfish, blind Hedonism. But I think that's because, if you put energy into ignoring fear-mongering propaganda, and keep your attention on the fact that the world, despite enormous odds, turned out to be pretty amazingly beautiful, and enjoying that fact, you're just about impossible to control:

"God is on our side! Join my army and Fight for Good!"
"Lol! No. God's not on our side..."
"Well, God hates THEM! They must be destroyed!"
"No, He doesn't..."
"I'm your God-Appointed King! If you don't do as I say, you'll be tormented for eternity after death!"
"Can't torment someone who doesn't exist..."
"But They have gold, and jewels! Think of all the plunder you could take home, when we win."
"Don't need it. Look, Dude -- I'm mortal. I don't have time for this... I'm going for a walk to smell the roses. Want to come with?"
"I hate you!"
"You'll just give yourself an ulcer. ... See ya 'round, right? ...Bye!"

Edited (fixed grammar) Date: 2015-06-05 09:10 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-05 02:48 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
When you say "Avani alone has no wings" -- does that mean alone among the people she lives with/among, or alone in the world? Because if it's the latter, that makes a statement about atheism which is uncomfortably close to what the Christianists accuse us of.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-05 05:09 am (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
Thank you!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-05 01:46 am (UTC)
ext_12246: (Pow Wow cat)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
Interesting! I wasn't expecting there to be any alternatives.

• There ^ angels high in heaven
^ are

• She does not believe in casts either;
→ castes

Thank you!

Date: 2015-06-05 02:58 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-05 12:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] janetmiles.livejournal.com
Ooh, this is intriguing. I'm going to try to remember to ask for more about Avani. (I don't guarantee that I'll remember, but I'll try.)

Yay!

Date: 2015-06-05 07:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I'm glad you liked it. Further requests are welcome.

Profile

ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
ysabetwordsmith

February 2019

S M T W T F S
      1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17181920212223
2425262728  

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags