It is in changing that things find repose.
Between this breath and another
is that atoms' dance that abides forever
intrinsic parity, growing in declension
and likewise myself constant in tension
now new now dying change and remain
endlessly negated perpetually created
ocean sunned, a steam of water meeting flame.
Restless blue remakes the river drop by drop;
time's dry file rasps on vanity's hide
as friction cooks the soul to snakes of smoke.
All things set free their savor in a smolder
of the sum to nothing, intangible but plain;
we're brought to know each essence
by the brazier and the flame.
Rosehips and lemon wet on my lips
only kindle the dancing blaze, a salamander
that cleans itself with coals, whose breath turns anything
to a wild wisped arabesque of incense,
the airgrace and deathgift of fire the same
from a pinched wick as from a burning slum,
all rising from the identical artist’s flame.
So these lips, only tasted now by time, kissed
only by citrus, salt and hips of roses,
exhale their essence; between this breath
and another, spirit dies and comes again
as it did before the world moved on and does
once more, sweet as any smoke of mutable flame
that finds repose in what is born to change.
Charles Miller of Metanoetic Poetics is hosting at the pub tonight, and his theme is the exploration of philosophy through poetry. Come join us. Link in is live till Sunday Midnight.
"If all existing things were smoke, it is by smell that we would distinguish them."
You can find these and more of the words of Heraclitus which influenced this poem here at wikisource.
Image: Heraclitus, Detail of Rafaello Santi's "The School of Athens" (1510)