Wednesday, 8 August 2012


Socrates stands silent, without the house.
He sways to and fro;
though there is no breeze.
His daemon speaks,
in words of tantalising uncertainty;
warning of danger, urging on with cue.

Within, the revellers laugh,
intent to entertain
themselves with wine and song and jest.
They miss his presence,
await his profile at the door.
Hopeful of his words, yet fearful too.

The seer breaks his pose;
returning to this world of doubt.
Regaining his will and purpose,
he looks about.
He shrugs and enters into its flimsy reality.
It is most unsatisfactory,
but will have to do.

His eyes peer into shadows
which lie all about him.
They reveal their remote origins
to his mind
as they obscure their immediate
intentions from his eyes.
He knows at last his will,
with doubt he’s through.

He wishes to advance;
move forward in this place;
join his friends within;
enjoy their fellowship.
He wishes much more.
To pass beyond this place
to enter into a richness
which few subdue.

Socrates bows his head
and enters the festive hall.
His presence fills the room,
the party song falls silent.
Let us speak of love,
dear friends, he says.
Let us praise the source
of all life new.

Account is made of Eros, ancient of days;
wisest and most beneficent,
yet maddener of men;
neither spirit nor matter
– but interlocutor between –
carrying precious gifts
reconciliation to pursue.

Socrates is silent. Then he frowns
and shakes his head.
What truth was spoke
was not spoke true enough;
weighed down by quest for earthly ease.
Such phantasms, he knows,
he must eschew.
He recalls an aged seeress,
Diotima she was named.
She once instructed him in love;
when he was young
and brash and wilful
and fully self-assured.
She cut him down a peg:
her words he will review.

Love is desire for beauty
with good outcome;
life leading to life and on to eternity.
Beauty is next to Good,
and supplies the defect
of sight to restore
what wisdom once knew.

The end of love is fellowship of being;
union with the source of life and hope,
attainment of clear sight
and understanding
sure knowledge of beauty
and justice true.

All love and beauty
in this world is perilous;
an intimation of
what lies beyond the veil,
an incentive to kindness
and spur to courage
but also a nagging distraction
from these two.

Then in storms Alcibiades,
apple of the sage’s eye;
yet rotten to the core.
Traitor both to tutor and to State.
Sure of himself, overflowing with hubris,
ravishing in countenance and thew.

He berates his erstwhile lover,
speaking of deceit,
how he promised much, but gave nothing;
not tenderness, nor comfort of embrace,
but by cultured neglect all passion slew.

He accuses the silent Socrates
of inhumanity,
of spiritual conceit and direst pride
being impossible to live with or without:
his friendship he does most sorely rue!

A tear wells in the seer’s face;
but he turns away
from what he has loved,
and always will love,
in this world: knowing that the warning,
once heard, he can never misconstrue.

This spoiled man, he knows,
exemplifies full well
(but without spark of intent
or glimmer of awareness)
the power of love to pervert and corrupt,
when divorced from its object due.

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