Sunday, September 24, 2006

Honesty and Pride

How hard it is to be honest
and think well of myself,
hard to decide which ornament
to show off on the shelf.

One owns the virtue of diamond
cut to make it shine.
The other, fired earthenware,
is a vase I may call mine.

Men chase the value of the stone
in action and in word.
They embrace the other in love’s bed
or in the silent ward.

And I, much too poor to be proud,
much too weak to be good,
must leave the old shelf empty,
standing where it has stood.

2 comments:

Rob Mackenzie said...

Jee, I really like most of this, but S2 left me puzzled. I can't see how it fits with the logic of the poem. If the speaker can call the earthenware "mine", how come the shelf must be empty by the end?

I do like S3-4 and (as I understand the poem) you've captured something of the difficulty of embracing the other and giving oneself to someone else.

Jee Leong Koh said...

Thanks, Rob, for leaving a comment on this. The vase is what I may call mine, but I don't have a completed vase.

Jee Leong