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October 30, 2007

Big things, Little things

So another of our delicious multitude of assignments this week was to write a poem about something really huge as if it was tiny, and something really tiny as if it was huge. I started writing "Very Little" first, under the title of "The Over-Human" - yes, that is a reference to Nietzsche. The idea of the Ubermensch in Nietzsche is (under some interpretations at least) of an entity with such an amazing force of moral will that they can reform reality to match its desire.

On the Nietzschean model, the fundamental substrate of reality is morality and will, so reshaping reality is a matter of getting people to accept your moral standard - the Ubermensch has the capacity to shatter the chains of moral law in which they are raised, and then reconstruct a new morality. The destruction is the act of the lion, the reconstruction is the act of the lamb. I thought, why not have a literal, physical ubermensch? 

Don't take "Very Little" as being an accurate representation of any Nietzschean thought - I just used the philosophy as a stepping stone.

In writing the poem, I came to the realisation that I was diminishing very large things by inflating the character of the speaker - by giving them a grotesquely huge ego, I was able to shrink enormous physical objects into diminuity. That helped me deal with the other poem of the pair, which I was struggling with at the time. I applied the reverse principle - give the speaker a tiny little voice. That was where "Big Thing" came from. I wanted to make it longer, but realised quite quickly that it had everything it needed. I like it a lot better than I like "Very Little" in fact.


Very Little

At the finish,
I will break Physics.
I will shake off the chains of her law
and stand a lion, a thousand lightyears tall: ignoring all
I will make the world mine.
I will hold it like an atom in my palm,
crush it like Gravity
will smash the final stars.
Her velvet glove will close on those specks
and make one last spatter of diamonds:
my fist will close on Earth and I will make coal.
I will breathe galaxies, look with contempt
on the works of Time, run Entropy to Death:
grind Ozymandias to dust, and Shelley.
I will trash everything.
There is no mercy in my heart;
its beat bursts suns and sends continents flying.
I am so grand,
and I ask not much:
to kill a universe is very little.

Big Thing

Oh big thing!
Oh, big big thing!
Scaly and rough, and
Barky and tough,
Oh, big thing!

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