Jonathan ROBIN (22 September / London)
To a Poet a Thousand Years Hence, A response after 100 years to James Elroy Flecker and Rabindranath Tagore The Gardener
I who reply before one hundred years
have seen Time's flow accelerate life's song,
respond in kind to message which appears
as symbols on a screen, its sense still strong.
Though most still write and read, both hemispheres
have trouble meeting challenges which long
have worried man, illiteracy queers
the pitch when teaching what is right, what wrong.
The seas, the skies, are bridged, and satellites
project by day, by night, in hologram
both masonry and metal, though man's sights
seem set too low, scarce worth a hollow gram.
Few find sea sky blind cruel. Today's delights
no longer turn to palaces, here jam
tomorrow – Carpe Diem flights
of fancy seldom dare to plug Fate’s dam.
Most palaces, once castles in the air,
by 3D printing on demand may see
your fiction turn our fact though cupboards bare
and empty bellies plague unwashed majority.
Baseless fabric of collective vision's mocks
all but change for change sake, yet still pays
lip-service to stability as stocks
rise as recession bites the hand life plays
Few care a toss for basic human rights,
for poor who roleplay sacrificial lamb,
which to the rich mean little save slums’ sights
should stay unseen, s[t]ave blush from Uncle Sam.
Music and wine are plentiful, but made
to cater jaded tastes at lowest cost
while bright-eyed love's uncertain, temples greyed,
scorns 'they that sit above' who selves have lost.
Music's flow through copyright is played,
though artists' cheques seem scarce, so seldom crossed.
The Gods - who pomp and power once displayed -
crass ignorance into black hole has tossed
Our conquests now upon ourselves are sought,
as ozone levels sink and ice-caps melt,
our living standards are too dearly bought, -
depend upon marked cards blind Fortune dealt.
Our fancies now to starboard, now to port,
veer queer as advertizing (oft misspelt)
on television, world wide web, or sport,
filters subconscious thought through media pelt.
Most wars are fought by proxy. Seldom caught,
a privileged minority still rules.
Who's heard of Maeonides - who aught
but Milton blind could summon up his ghouls?
The Internet has altered ways of thought,
of social interaction, while the schools
recast curricula as they exhort
life-long learning's worth as earning's tools.
Voyagers have overstepped the bounds
of heliosphere, while Curiosity
Mars Mission underwrites, and yet Hell's hounds
pursue the poor with loss of dignity.
Extended span of years accelerates
knowledge accumulation but the use
to which it's put rarely anticipates
effects victims of corporate abuse.
O friend unseen, though read, thus partly known,
Poet whose questions ripple 'cross Time's tide,
whose message with the years has sweeter grown
despite the depth of digital divide,
what would you say, today still flesh and bone,
comparing with the past horizons wide
opened by decoding the genome
despite discrepancies which still abide?
What would you say, today still flesh and bone,
comparing hopes' horizons? Jekyll, Hyde
open Pandora's box, sequence genome
although increased discrepancies abide.
With Doctor Moreau see experiments
clone monkey, man, to ban constraints of time,
while pensions underfunded little sense
confer on cryo lifespans’ frozen rime.
Though none may ever greet you face to face,
or shake your hand, share online chat broadband,
perhaps these lines will slip through time and space
to greet you, who these words need understand.
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