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Life Arts    H4'ed 11/7/21

The riddle (a poem from a dream) followed by a possible interpretation

Message Gary Lindorff
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"The forest fecund
Sad a second time."

I woke speaking
These exact lines.

There was a dream too.
I don't remember the dream

But I sense that these words
Are not what they seem.

I think that they are encoding
The entire dream

That I couldn't recall.


I wonder if that's what life is like
I mean life recalled after it's over:

Waking with a few numinous words
On my tongue --

The only remnants
Of the evaporated dream of life!

I wonder what the words would be!
Something like "The forest fecund;

Sad a second Time"?


I don't think I could bear being sad
A third or fourth time.

Or maybe I could.
It's a moot question.

But I'll tell you what I am thinking,
Since I assume that, if

You have read this far,
You might give me a few more

Minutes of your time.


Given that we are close
to destroying the planet-as-we-know-it

(Let's agree to agree
With that assumption.)

I think the forests
Are still capable

Of regenerating the life force,
To reverse what we have done

During just a few lifetimes.


The forest is still "fecund".
(Just for example,

I have read that we
Have only studied 3 or 4 percent

Of the varieties of fungi
That exist in nature.)

"Fecund" means fruitful, abundant
The way a mother is fruitful,

The way her womb is fruitful;
Procreative but, more than that,

The word also expresses
The miracle of giving birth.

But fecund goes beyond birthing.
The suffix of the oldest form of the word

Means "to suckle", also to produce
Happy, "auspicious", offspring.

Not sad.
So the forest fecund

Is the the great mother and
She is capable of regenerating,

Birthing and suckling
Another great cycle of life . . .

But "Sad a second time" stumps me.


If the great mother, the forest,
Is capable of producing happy offspring

Then sadness
Must be of human origin.

It would be sad to think
That we already experienced

Sadness as a species a first time
And that we didn't learn

From that first sad time / cycle,
And that, because of us,

We will have to endure
A second cycle of sadness

Or maybe we are in it!
That would account for why,

For me, sadness
Is the lowest chord,

Even when I am happiest,
Because we are destroying

The forest fecund, the mother
Who still has the power

To suckle us, her sad offspring.
She still has the power

To make us happy!
But only if we choose

Not to destroy her.


We often think that changing our fate
Means doing something

But I think it means
Not doing something!

Just loving our forests.
Oh, and that includes

The forests of the sea . . .


My poems are usually mostly intuitive. I often don't know exactly what they mean myself. This one is a rare exception. Because it begins with a riddle that I am trying to understand, there is an equal investment of intuition and logic in its writing. As an intuitive-thinker (based on Jung's typology), I decided to interpret my own poem since it seems to be calling for that, and, anyway, no one else is likely to do it.

1st stanza: This first stanza notches up the significance of the words that I woke up saying.

I think it is significant in itself that I am the one saying the words, even though I do not myself understand them. Here are two levels of mystery before the poem even gets started.

2nd stanza: Now I / the poet is drawing an analogy between waking in the morning and passing out of the dream of life into the afterlife, comparing life to an "evaporated dream". Very few people recall their dreams in any detail. Often what we are left with in the morning is a dim recall of the last dream of the night. So, we are already not very good at remembering our dream-life. Why should we be any better at remembering our waking life when we pass on from it. The second stanza backlights the mysterious phrase that initiates the poem.

3rd stanza: Solicits patience from the reader, hinting at some kind of solution to the riddle, or at least the poet will let the reader into his process.

4th stanza: The poet is asking for a sympathetic reading. First he asks for the reader's patience and then for the reader's agreement as a condition for continuing together.

5th stanza: The poet unpacks the nuances of the word "fecund" in reference to the procreative planet, depicting Earth as the great mother, who is still capable, not only of reversing the damage wrought by us, but she is even capable of healing the sadness that seems to be baked into our DNA. But the poet admits that he is "stumped" by the intimation that the human race has experienced two great sadnesses.

Stanza 6: What if the main purpose of creation is ecstatic? That viewpoint is not a stretch if we accept the dream-notion of the forest-fecund, or the forest as good-mother. The good mother-Earth would only have our happiness at heart, so our sadness must come from something deep within our collective soul. So what is the answer, as we seem to be bent on destroying the mother along with our chance to find happiness. We seem to be caught in a downward spiral of our own creation.

Stanza 7, this shortest stanza ends with ellipses. The message is, we can't help ourselves by doing anything, we just have to take all the energy of our compulsive, one might say frenetic "doing" and convert it into "loving our forests" . . . the "forest fecund", the mother that gave birth to us. Is loving passive? Not really. There are very active forms and expressions of love. I think the point of this poem is to challenge us to stop trying to manipulate, engineer and control, much less exploit, nature, but allow ourselves to love her. If we do, she will respond, returning our love exponentially.

(Article changed on Nov 07, 2021 at 12:36 PM EST)

(Article changed on Nov 08, 2021 at 10:12 AM EST)

(Article changed on Nov 08, 2021 at 10:35 AM EST)

(Article changed on Nov 08, 2021 at 10:47 AM EST)

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Gary Lindorff is a poet, writer, blogger and author of five nonfiction books, three collections of poetry, "Children to the Mountain", "The Last recurrent Dream" (Two Plum Press), "Conversations with Poetry (coauthored with Tom Cowan), and (more...)

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