Poetry Study: Phantom Limbs

How amazing my person-ality is

As it becomes world

Boiling with anger

Frozen with fear

World/Self-mirroring metaphor made possible

As information translates from one sensory part of the brain to the other and back again

Where does it all go in a car crash, me still vegetatively there

But no longer there

Or does the injured body/mind also create,

Like the phantom hand the mind creates for the recent amputee

It’s as amazing as my upset stomach

Which causes the tv to go from appearing pleasantly to presencing irritatingly

So that I must go lie down in the dark and shut out the world

So simple it is to see that

As a body creates an immaterial phantom hand out of nothing

that it creates an immaterial mind as well

And as from dust to dust goes the brain

So too the mind

**** Adapted for kids in part from “Dead as a Doornail Souls, Brains, and Survival by Matt McCormick” in The Myth of an Afterlife: The Case against Life After Death. eds MICHAEL MARTIN AND KEITH AUGUSTINE

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Why doesn’t this poem rhyme? There is certainly a rhythm to it, but not a rhyming one. John Milton first published his seminal epic poem, Paradise Lost, in 1667. A “Revised and Augmented” version, which is the one read more widely today, was published in 1674, with this following introduction. In it, Milton explains why he has chosen to compose his long poem in English heroic verse without the use of rhyme, following the models of Homer and Virgil. Milton argues that rhyme is particularly unnecessary in longer poems, and that its unquestioned use by his peers, “carried away by Custom, but much to their own vexation, hindrance, and constraint to express many things otherwise, and for the most part worst than they would have exprest them.” Milton sees an inflexible application of rhyme and meter as in danger of becoming rote and mathematical, and he defends the liberty he found in releasing his poem from rhyme’s limitations. see: Introduction To Paradise Lost: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/articles/69378/introduction-to-paradise-lost

Poem Word Study:

Vegetative: Still alive but mostly or completely unresponsive, personality and awareness gone due to brain injury. Question, if everything of the personality and self can be destroyed, but the person is still alive, what would the characteristics of an eternal soul be?

Phantom Hand: An amputee still experiences their hand even though it is no longer there.

Presencing: the verbal appearing of something instead of the fixed characteristics of something. So, the beautiful person may seem like they are beauty incarnate, as though divine Beauty itself is shining through a person, even though the next person may not experience them as beautiful at all. There isn’t a divine goddess beauty that is incarnate in the person, it’s just a way of describing the experience. This is how the Greeks conceived it. Today we might say of the mansion “now this is a house!” it is exemplary of house-ness, though the next person may experience it as gawdy.