Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Poem of the Day: “Epicurus in Spring” by James Frederick William Rowe, Frequent Contributor

Epicurus in Spring
James Frederick William Rowe

First flowers
And the final thaw
Spring emerged
And had at last bloomed
After many fitful starts
And air that would in Autumn
Herald the return of jackets
Of hats and scarves
Was accounted warm
Even as ice will melt
Though cold water runs over it   
With delicate fingers
A notable Epicure
Delighted himself
By plucking from a bowl
The choicest selection of cheeses
As he dined amidst the perfumes
Of blossom and wind
Upon a park bench
Whereupon his friend arrived
Coatless and short sleeved
And greeted him like warm weather

Said he to whom cheese
Was his chief delight, his sole indulgence:
"My friend, my friend
Do you not now see my point?
This weather proves me right
For what is Spring without Winter?
So too is evil paired with good
Indeed, were it not for evil
We should never be good at all
As goodness springs from evil
Just as this season from the last"

"That pleasures deprived"
Began the gourmet sage
"Are heightened indeed I shall concede
And that the glory of this weather
Is made all the more by the long
Dreary days we have passed in frost
But tell me, my friend
You who have abandoned your winter wear
That warmth mayn't be wearying
Would you retain your coat
If winter never came again?"

"There would be no need."
     "There would be no need."

Poet’s Notes: "Epicurus in Spring" owes its genesis to the wonderful relief of spring weather after a long, terrible winter (as we had this last winter in New York), and the fortunate correspondence this change in temperature had with my spring philosophy's course class on the Problem of Evil.  The character of Epicurus is based on the ancient Greek philosopher (pictured).  I imagined him sitting outside of Gramercy Park, or else in Madison Square Park, both near Baruch College where I work. The addition of his bowl of cheese is merely added relish to his inner peace and the inherent pleasantness of the day, whether in New York or back in ancient Greece from which he has mysteriously been summoned in my mind.

Editor’s Note:  The opening stanza would make a fine stand-alone poem with its beautiful imagery, peaceful mood, appeal to the senses, and nod to ancient Greece.  The following philosophical discussion has a playful banter to it, enhanced by the rhythm of the piece.  The moral lesson is thought provoking and as timely now as it was in the centuries before the Common Era.   "Epicurus in Spring" was a finalist in the 2016 Songs of Eretz Poetry Award Contest.  

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