View Full Version : A Timeless Lament

William Haskins
11-12-2015, 06:11 AM
The End of Days
has passed us by.

History is
mere curiosity,
a fading picture
of faces
we no longer love,
of lessons
we no longer learn.

We stopped keeping time and
now measure our moments
by how quickly we can
forget them.

11-12-2015, 03:31 PM
This captures an unspeakably bleak quality of the times. I've been thinking of Yeats' Second Coming, that the Rough Beast has come and gone. Now what? is the feeling.

The rhythm in the final stanza is like a wind-up toy running down. It stops.

William, the place you write from shines through and it never fails to speak to its counterpart in me. Thank you for that.

11-12-2015, 04:35 PM
Seconding Kylabelle, you perfectly nailed something I observe in myself and society more and more. Preciousness fades as does poignancy, and personally I feel like we just mindlessly shuffle along as we dismiss moments while we only have each one once.

William Haskins
11-12-2015, 06:25 PM
thank you both for reading and commenting.

on a side note, it's good to see you in the poetry room, ravioli.

thanks again.

11-12-2015, 07:02 PM
thank you both for reading and commenting.

on a side note, it's good to see you in the poetry room, ravioli.

thanks again.
I suck at giving meaningful comments and the shorter something is, the more I struggle... But I do enjoy poetry :) Actually had some published in indie press upon winning a competition :hooray:

11-13-2015, 03:33 AM
That's where I feel the pangs of loss: documenting the experience we could have had, if only we hadn't been so busy proving we were there. Once we've finished recording, we have nothing to remember. It's not just history that's dead: now is pretty much gone as well.

I get the idea that this idea rankled particularly with you, William: I think it's the directness of the presentation. There's a sort of artless art to it: none of the internal rhyme we hear from you, but there is the alliteration of L's - the repetition of which might serve to hammer home a sense of longing and loss.

*sigh* I need to go sit on a park bench for a while.

11-13-2015, 04:26 AM
After a couple reads, I found myself wanting an ironic twist tag-line (after I'd been kicked off a park bench by a strange, face-out-of-the-rain-strange guy, I don't remember his name). Agree with poet that the directness and flow blunt the lethal edge of this and thanks, for keeping me "in good poetry" company - keep on postin' on!!

William Haskins
11-13-2015, 06:27 AM
i appreciate the comments, rob and mag.

11-14-2015, 12:44 AM
This resonated with me in the same way Rob was struck, with the feeling that something is lost in the way we enjoy and remember life now. Just this week, I was showing my youngest actual print photos of when I was growing up and he asked, "Where are my pictures?" There's something in the quantity and availability of digital memories that cheapens the thing. And I think you captured that nicely... here in this digital poem.

11-14-2015, 06:59 AM
I had a different take. I think the title of the poem is the key to its interpretation.

The poem does not lament merely the bleakness and ennui of the current day -- the shallowness of today's culture of twitter and instagram, our selfishness and ignorance, and our general disregard for atrocities and tragedies, past and present, that don't directly affect us. Rather, the title reflects that this bleak state and the lament of it are nothing new – they are “timeless.” They have always been with us.

The larger number of people have always been disinclined (or unable) to be curious about much outside their immediate wants or to ponder the lessons of the past. As a species, we have generally had a tendency towards brutishness (and indeed many past times and cultures were arguably even more brutish, less compassionate, less loving, and less mindful of history than our own).

Yet despite this persistent bleakness and brutality, throughout recorded history, people have always been lamenting the depravity of the present age and looking back longingly on some past allegedly golden age.

Moreover, the pining for some sort of future paradise -- and/or an anticipation of a vast catastrophe -- has been with us since biblical times at least. And yet here we still are lamenting. Hence, the poem’s opening statement that “the End of Times has passed us by” -- any idea of a future paradise is as much of a delusion as the mythical golden past. All humanity can likely anticipate is more of the same. (Though, looking on the bright side, I personally think we can still hold out hope for a vast catastrophe.)

As a side note, I initially had an inclination to quibble with William on a point or two -- i.e., most individuals seem to me depressingly incurious about history (and so, alas, their interest doesn't even rise to the level of "mere curiosity"), and less interested in forgetting their time than they are in squandering it.

But after sleeping on it, I found myself agreeing that history does have its meager interest -- as a tourist attraction. We snap a selfie in front of the relics and then go for a beer. And after we are done squandering our time, human experience, historical as well as individual, goes right down the memory hole.

Which, of course, is why we are condemned to repeat it.

11-14-2015, 07:49 AM
I find that it can also be applied to the personal microcosm, where "us" and "we" are a far smaller number. That interpretation stings in an alltogether different place.

11-14-2015, 08:09 AM
I find that it can also be applied to the personal microcosm, where "us" and "we" are a far smaller number. That interpretation stings in an alltogether different place.
yes, I also spent some time playing with it on the level of a relationship gone sour. That take appealed to me in some ways, but I decided to go global with my take for a couple of reasons -- e.g., because of it being "faces" we no longer love -- you might no longer love the other person, but would you no longer love many people? and then I kept returning to the timeless thing in the title -- was the relationship always like this?


heh. besides, I have a bad habit of interpreting all poems in a personal microcosm sort of way, and i'm trying valiantly to break myself of it.

11-14-2015, 08:20 AM
I don't know that there's anything more timeless than individuals losing their personal all. Just like a company of ten employees can claim a hundred years of experience between them collectively, the count of "man-hours" spent by people losing their own history is much greater than the time the planet has spent zooming around the sun.

I'm not at all suggesting that's what William meant in this piece. It just struck me that it works that way, too.

11-14-2015, 08:26 AM
Good point. Timeless could be taken a couple of ways. It could be timeless in the sense that countless people have been through the same thing. Or it could seem as though the situation had lasted eternally.

Eta: damn it, Jamie -- you have me personal microcosming again.

11-14-2015, 08:33 AM
Eta: damn it, Jamie -- you have me personal microcosming again.I have yet to expand anyone's world. I ruin everything.

11-14-2015, 08:40 AM
Yes, same here. And we'll probably continue to ruin everything, if William's poem is correct.

11-14-2015, 09:25 PM
Delightful commentary, Perks & Cass - Thank You!

11-15-2015, 05:08 AM
This is a smart read. 'we' so commonly implies the wider, general scope, but in the context of this poem, it's personal; the 'we' is a space shared by the poet and intended reader, but broad enough to invite those outside of the immediate 'we' to share in it. I enjoy it when I'm treated as an equal, when not everything is watered down, my meat hasnt been pre-chewed. I dont have to agree 100% to experience the message and the wording here, though departed from your usual style and register, allows me to entertain your concept/thought process regardless of my own personal views... thanks for posting.