I was once a rather quiet sceptic.
Tolerant of others’ cherished illusions,
(even those that seemed rather septic)
and unwilling to provoke confusion.
Why should I dampen their enthusiasm
with awkward questions and doubts
that might perhaps reveal the chasm
between what their faith made them shout
and what, meanwhile, I quietly thought.
But it always seemed that their credulity
was far too easily bought.
And having once let faith make a fool of me,
I know that faith that’s blind is no harmless charm
and I’ve heard too often of beliefs having effects that are fatal.
(If you doubt that belief can do active harm
Consider Nicaragua’s mortality rates – maternal and pre-natal).
So I find I must, politely but firmly, refuse
to tolerate sermonising in dissenting silence
(however good may appear the sermon’s news)
And so, without resorting to violence
I now ensure my doubts get said.
I try not to let dogma thrive uninterrupted,
or tacitly permit narrow-mindedness to spread.
And though it can sometimes seem disruptive,
I won’t believe someone’s words just because
they claim that they have seen the light.
When someone preaches fanatically about the wonders of Oz
I’d rather mention their emerald specs than be dishonestly polite!
Doubt and fear
Even when my eyes were damp with tears
You wouldn’t hold me close. Left me lonely.
I, the sceptic who wanted to believe in you.
For you feared my doubts would interfere
With the strange things you needed to believe.
You, who told me I was afraid of what was true.
But it was not my awkward doubts, but your tearing fears
That in the end were fatal to our love. How we grieved!
We, who had not imagined the pain our love could turn into.
And so you rejected me, and disappeared
To chase your illusions uninterrupted. With only
They who would not challenge your strange world view.
Mere differences of opinion can’t tear friends or lovers apart
It is only fear that has the power to choke the loving heart.
These two poems were written for the Friday Five at Poefusion – to write a poem including the words sceptic, awkward, uninterrupted, fatal, damp.
The first one is roughly clerihewish – deliberately using clumsy or eccentric rhymes and odd line lengths, which seemed to support the idea of awkwardness. The reference to Nicaragua was inspired by this article.
The second poem is more or less a sonnet – though the rhyme scheme (ABC ADC ADC ABC EE) isn’t typical. And I’ve thrown in a pronoun pattern too. I did wonder whether it would be better to use just the first twelve lines without the “moral” at the end – what do you think?
Though they may seem very different in mood, there is a definite connection between the events in the second poem and the attitude expressed in the first.