On the Quest for Freedom, Revisited

If seeing is believing, then
The flicker has my faith obscured:
Though beaming is its light to men,
To dazzle too its gloom’s inured.
Shall then the flame be doused again—
As though the dark can blindness cure
And answers to the mystery pen?

And when the torch my raised arm sears
To cause the handgrip insecure,
And when the fumes eclipse my tears
To taint the visions pleading pure,
And when my call unto deaf ears
Is raised whilst dismally immured,
Will I prevail o’er bleeding fears?

 

Colin Lee

colin-lee-small

In continuation to my previous musing, On the Quest for Freedom, I endeavoured to match the quadrille with a second stanza, using this week’s 44-word quota and prompt word “fear”, as given out by Victoria at dVerse’s Quadrille #37–Be Not Afraid – coinciding with Tisha B’Av.

Photo Courtesy: alphacoders.com
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41 thoughts on “On the Quest for Freedom, Revisited

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  1. The image, the words….and most especially the second stanza…very powerful. The idea of the handgrip insecure….that in and of itself is metaphorical for the tears that must be falling, threatening the hopes this statue of liberty has meant for so many including my great grandfather.

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    1. Thank you, Lillian. Always a pleasure to read your comments. It’s quite distressing to think that we, the younger lot in the developed world, are in general ignorant of wars and oppression, and of the fears derived from these ills and evils. While we conveniently sympathise with the oppressed and intellectually criticise the unjust, we’re nevertheless only too entitled to our freedom that we’ve run out of appreciation for its presence and value — even to the point of estrangement. No matter how lasting a society’s peace and prosperity seem, history tells us they’ll somehow, at some point, pop like soap bubbles. I don’t think I’m ready at all for such a time, save asking myself these questions.

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      1. It already did! I read an intriguing story when I went searching the history of those words. A story about, in 700 BC, cho using woodcutters to lure the soldiers in to an ambush. It amazes me how people were so brilliant, thousands of years ago.

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  2. Ah, how could I forget “as though the dark can blindness cure”? I’m glad you continued this and I like the continuation of the blindness theme in these strong lines: “And when the fumes eclipse my tears
    To taint the visions pleading pure.” Great work!

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    1. Thank you, my friend. I’m glad you picked that up. Similar metaphors, but different applications. The first stanza’s pondering pointed out the absence of freedom (darkness) and the ignorance of freedom (blindness) weren’t related, thus the phrase “as though”. The second stanza however went beyond the philosophical and postulated upon the breakdown of freedom, and subsequently my will to regain/defend it. What I then crammed into those two lines could be read in a couple of ways: “fumes” might be read either as exhaust of liberty’s torch or as symbol of wars and conflicts; as for “tears”, loss or obscurity. Well, it’s some sort of a musing, not some crystal-clear conclusion … hope it still makes sense. 🙂

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    1. Is it the self here asking, or is it the self in the loss of freedom asking? Well, I’m afraid Zen is a Chinese word which is quite foreign to Chinese. I’d better take Zen Master Paul’s beating. 🙂

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      1. I like the question you ponder here. Is it the self asking? Is there a witness to that self asking? Forgive me. My mind does this in the constant search for that ‘who’. I also find it curious that Zen has no meaning in Chinese. No beatings. No master.

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  3. I like how you combined these quadrilles together. I might try that if I can think of a more global theme. The last line about prevailing over bleeding fears makes me think if someone is bleeding, fear will be hard to overcome. Of course it could be the fears that are “bleeding” in some way maybe infecting others which I think fear does.

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    1. Thanks, Frank. I’m glad I planted that bit of ambiguity to tease out how readers like you take it. In a way, fears can be visualised as wounds that continuously drain the life force and courage out of me. This made them hard to overcome (like you said) and the chances to overcome them hard to predict (I won’t know if I’ll still have what it takes in me). But if you take “bleeding” as a colloquial emphasis like “bloody”, then you’ll be reading an expression of disdain towards fears.

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  4. Finally. First off, it is impressive that you fit all 44 words in a rhyming and rather structured stanza. I think it takes considerable skill to do that.

    How is it that freedom seems to be the enemy of freedom itself? Is it the free, and almost unbridled, exercise of it that strains freedom itself? Or is it the principles/policies regarding freedom and its exercise that limits it. I think even freedom should have boundaries. Liberty or freedom is not there for its own sake, or we will have anarchy. Ever, it looks towards a goal loftier than our individual desires.

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    1. Thank you for the comment, Imelda. To start with, I’m all for the Lockean logic. Boundaries aren’t necessarily antithetical to freedom, as much as the rules, lines and goal posts serve to define, not nullify, the game of football by protecting the players and fairness of their play. Liberty isn’t an end in itself; but to ponder on how much loftier that collective goal is upon individuals would then be the Kantian problem philosophically and the struggle between liberalism and conservatism practically, which are far beyond the ambition of my little poem. I named my piece as a “quest” as I believe liberty is not a product but a process with constant re-balancing and re-defining in accordance to the stage of social progress. That’s the up side to my thinking, which isn’t the main focus of my intent. I’m afraid it’s a time the world is about to turn backwards, where strongmen (and some mad men) are unhesitatingly seizing the reins of power and rocket launchers. As a poet and a father, and one not especially optimistic, instead of revisiting philosophical ponderings over established democratic traditions, I feel I have good reasons to worry about our potential struggles before a gloomy tomorrow (and if I’ll have what it takes to retain my integrity and faith).

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      1. I did not mean to challenge your position. These days, though, freedom seems to be taken as a license to do everything that an individual wants without regard to the greater good. Individual freedom rules. Or perhaps, it is my jaded thinking that sees it that way.

        I agree with you that it is scary how freedom is being exercised these days. Sometimes, it makes me lose sleep at night and makes me worried about the world my children will have in the future. Then, I calm myself (with a few prayers) and the thought that no matter how extreme the pendulum swings, it will stop at a middle ground. And if the world of tomorrow is far too different from what we have now (as ours is so unlike the world our parents had), our children who inherits the world will learn to cope as we learned to live in ours.

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      2. Charlottesville was quite a case in point. Politics is meant to be a swinging pendulum, given its gravitated and stablised by rationality. A people unmindful of the reasons and value of their freedom will ultimately lose it. I’m afraid I feel as worried as you regarding our children’s future — but then, why do I keep having kids? (My little Christy was born 4 days ago.)

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