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. 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-:)🙏🙏🙏🌷

  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.

      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.

  3. 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.

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