What you do, or: Don’t do

‘The Art of Being Human’

a d’Verse poetics prompt


What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world. The paragon of animals. And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?

William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616), ‘Hamlet’
This being human is poetry ~

This being, human, is defined, defied ~ by lines imaginary;
knowing he doesn't know his worth ~ knowing leaves him weary;

This, being human, is, primarily ~ his greatest aspiration;
aspiring, perhaps, to believe he is ~ some greater being's creation;

This, being, Human, is merely what ~ has been bestowed upon you;
You're born, you die, and in between ~ being human's what we all do

The prompt

The above poem is my take on d’Verse’s ‘The Art of Being Human’ prompt.

The challenge is to write a metaphor poem that starts with the words ‘This being human is’, which comes to us from Rumi’s poem ‘The Guest House’, which you may read below.

In truth, my poem is not a metaphor, but this is what came to me. At first, I was thinking of writing something like ‘being human is a poem’ and then exploring the similarities between the two, but that’s simply not where my heart and mind wanted to go this morning.

‘The guest house’ by Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.​ 

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor. 

​Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

​Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

79 thoughts on “What you do, or: Don’t do”

  1. No?

    All three poets prove, this being human is poetry. The world, mankind would be lost with it.
    But I am firm with Rumi’s concluding
    He rises far above ruminating.

      1. The guesthouse as a metaphor, in its simplicity sparkles with brilliance in this context. He loves the humans he addresses.

      1. LOL I was looking at BFCW, not realizing it was me. 😀 I even googled it. Turns out it also stands for Bridgestone/Firestone Centennial Wilderness! The things you learn through failing to recognise your own initials.

  2. I disagree, David; your poem is indeed a metaphor, and it works really well! The well-chosen extract from Hamlet serves as a springboard into your poem, which plays with the prompt line so well, using punctuation to change the meaning and lead to the genius final line.

      1. It’s a complex, possibly reverse metaphor, a negation of your opening statement, nothing concrete but something imaginary, which then confirms that being human cannot be defined: ‘being human’s what we do.

  3. love where your morning took you with these David and your punctuation in between. loved the end, love Rumi and this poem of his… thanks for the reminder of this one. I’m going to read it when I teach Yoga tonight-:)🙏🙏🙏🌷

  4. I like your interpretation here! Now, I think poetry like yours here, raw and oddly punctuated, is not a bad metaphor for what being human is… I like the quote from Hamlet, if definitely leads in well to your work! 😊

  5. I love where you went with this challenge, Ben. “Being human is what we all do” and along the way choices are placed before us. Those choices and accepting responsibility for them have much to do with out journey. Good write, Ben!

  6. This is brilliantly rendered 😀 I resonate with; “This being, human, is defined, defied ~ by lines imaginary.”💝💝

  7. David–
    Impeccably constructed; you went deep. My sense is that you had a bubble of tranquility around you as you wrote. It feels like it came from some other place. Human as temporary do-be do-be do. Set it to music! Can you tell I like it?

  8. The first line followed by a standalone “No” was an abrupt stop and an unexpected direction, and perfect. Poetry is a gift given by some humans, not a common state of being. 😉 The remaining lines present deep thoughts by a deep-thinking poet. 🤔 😀

  9. Awesome poem David. Also, that is one of my favourite poems of Rumi. When I first came across it a couple of years back, someone close was dying, and there were some difficult things going on. That poem brought me comfort, among others of Rumi that I read around the same time. Love your take on impermanence, and your own journey toward faith/believing in an eternal flame, if I interpret it correctly. xoxo

  10. If a fact on being human was ever wrought out as a poem. Not flattery. I identify with your take that being human is all we do… Our deeds define our person.

    1. Yeah – you know, Lucky, I think I tend to overcomplicate a lot of things so I like the most straightforward answers because they help me cope with the world around me – I can process them without getting flustered.


  11. “The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
    meet them at the door laughing,
    and invite them in.” Reading this line lightens my heart with peace. So much wisdom in so less words..💛

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