For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Friday, 6 April 2012

Deep Blue

You may beat me at chess
But can you write a poem?


Can you stare into the sun’s eye


Until you see cantaloupe?
Or rock the sailboat of the moon
Adrift in a diamond sea of stars?






I think I hear you say
(Binarily in bits and bytes)
That it is so passé,


So bloody nineteenth century,


So Keatsian to scatter fruit and jewels


Like cosmic litter from a lichened


Cornucopia of clichés,


Romantic and redundant metaphors.






Agreed, my artificial friend.



But it is harder than you think
(If indeed you do think) to compose


The way things are
And the ideas within them
And what you feel



In words direct as sunlight,


Subtle as moonbeams
And real as seeds and stones.


You will always win at chess, my friend.
And today I will write a different kind of poem,
Deeper than the deepest blue you will ever know.


(Deep Blue was the chess-playing computer which beat world chess champion Garry Kasparov in a match in 1997.)


7 comments:

Danish dog said...

I approve, Robert! I like the way you blast much of modern poetry along with Deep Blue.

One of my favourite poems has this title too. It is by Kate Clanchy, in her collection, Samarkand, from 1999. It's an elegy for a school chum who died at the age of 26 or 27, apparently in a rather bizarre accident. Death is "personified" (or rather "automised") as a chess player who always wins.

Susan Scheid said...

. . . But it is harder than you think
(If indeed you do think) to compose


The way things are
And the ideas within them
And what you feel


In words direct as sunlight,


Subtle as moonbeams
And real as seeds and stones.


I love the beautiful plainsong feel of this. Great poem.

Goat said...

Looking forward to that poem!

Whatever happened to that ugly hunk of rationalist scrap metal anyway?

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, Duncan! I think I'm just satirising pseudo-romantic poetry in an unromantic age, really — and satirising myself in the process!

Susan, I'm so glad you highlighted this. Yes, it was meant to be the plainer ancient/modern part, in contrast to the alliteratively démodé bit.

Well, I was rather hoping this poem was it, Goat ;-)
Re. Deep Blue, I'm afraid the scrap has been recycled into even more frightening metallic monsters according to a recent TV prog. on Artificial Intelligence.

Danish dog said...

Satirising oneself is a noble occupation, and many truths come out of it. For me the beauty of Zen is laughter directed at oneself. I think it's the ultimate truth, and it keeps us sane in trying circumstances.

Danish dog said...

My chess hero is Tal, who would often make a material sacrifice for some kind of intuitive positional gain. Moves that the computer would reject because they involve an element of risk.

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, I think the poem is a meta-poem, DD, and is a poem about myself writing poem about writing a poem. And at the same time it considers the way it's written and the language it's written in. In the form of a dialogue between the purely rational, logical and linear left brain, and the imaginative, creative and laterally-inclined right brain. Perhaps!

Thanks for your extra comments.