Deeper Than A Lifetime

In response to “The Knife” by Keith Douglas

Keith Douglas describes his poems as “extrospective” meaning that they are focused on external impressions rather than inner emotions. I believe, “The Knife” does not fall into that category and thus intrigues me the most out of all his poems. I would describe “The Knife” as a love poem; a love poem written in the midst of war at the point where dead was most evident. Hence, I believe it is one of the most sincere love poems that could be written. Although it is a love poem, its title is a word associated with danger, hurt and death for which I believe the poem was written for Ying Cheng. Ying Cheng also known as Betty Sze was an elegant Chinese lady who dated Keith during his university days. Unfortunately, her love for Keith was not as deep as his and thus the refusal of his proposal which lead to her being the unrequited love in Keith’s life. “Deeper than a Lifetime” aims to give Keith a second chance at a love that seemed so pure, to tell Betty all the things he wished he did and how differently he would have done things.

 

Dear Betty,

To turn back time and make my choices again,

I wish I could say that I would do everything exactly the same,

But unrequited love is only less painful when compared to once-requited love.

I wouldn’t have loved you as hard.

I wouldn’t have dived into the deep end of the pool just like that.

I would have tried much harder, with more suave to make you fall at your knees for me and my love.

I would have made you shed the sophisticated coat you wore whenever you met me,

The one I knew you wore to mask your true form.

I would not have hid the romantic that I was.

I would not have pretended not to be the simple guy who just wanted you to love him, who took this to be more than just a fling.

I would have took you to feel the breeze in your hair more often and to take long walks in the parks arm in arm, so that you understood the small yet important things in life.

I would have brought you to rooftops to watch the sunsets and sunrises that although were beautiful, weren’t as beautiful as you.

I would have brought you to water bodies to swim so that you could wash away all the uncertainties that you carried on your shoulders, so that you stopped calculating every move before you made them.

I would have ensured that you knew that time stopped when I looked at you, when I was with you.

I would have made sure that my ‘I love you’  s were loud and seductive but could only be heard in the wind as your long black waterfalls danced to its melody.

I would have made sure you thought of me every day without fail, the same way that not thinking of you each day felt like a bad day.

I would have made sure you understood that such selfless, aching love only came once in a lifetime and try to make you more courageous to follow the tune of your beating heart.

I would have made sure that you cried when I had gone to the army and that you sent letters, letters that would have been a small form of remedy and a reminder that you hadn’t forgotten me.

I would have made sure that the next time I saw you, would be as I, with you boldly held in my arms.

I would have made sure that I hadn’t die in a war when I had much more I wanted to say to you, to scream at you, to show you as Keith Douglas.

Don’t say that I am full of regret, because I am not.

It would be easier to forget you entirely,

But I guess I can’t.

My love for you runs deeper than just a lifetime and I can’t

Say goodbye until I have achieved what I truly believe is

Worth living for.

Pen VS Arrow

A timely piece with all the political and military tension all over the world. 

In response to Sidney Keyes’s “War Poet”

“War Poet” is a simple poem which I believe Sidney Keyes used to show that he did not fit in on the battle field and that it was against his decision to be there in the first place. I believe it is also his interpretation of what happens when War and Poetry mix together- the risk of insanity and thus his wasted potential. “Pen VS Arrow” plays with the two possible decisions Sidney could have made along with the difficulties of both decisions hence hoping to bring to light the difficulty of war.

All my life, my pen has been my protector.

I wasn’t one who knew how to really use anything else.

I never believed that anything could defend me better than words –which I used as armor.

So, imagine the confusion I was faced with when I found out some had used a pen to uproot the lives of others and forgone it as a protector.

Trust upon me was the decision to be like all men my age and dawn on courage for the sake of my country, the future of its people and ultimately peace.

Trust upon me was the fact that such a decision could lead to my death and hence the death of a man for a cause he did not wholeheartedly believe in or better still in which its solution, he did not wholeheartedly believe in.

Trust upon me was years of rehabilitation, the possibility of insanity and thus lost potential.

Yet on the other side,

Present was the decision to abandon my country when she and my people needed me most and the weight of the guilt.

Present was also the opportunity to grow as a writer but also the threat of insanity due to the guilt that would scratch my doors.

Will my pen help me see to the end of this problem?

Only the dead have seen the end of war.

~PLATO