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. 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

  2. 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. 🤔 😀

  3. 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?

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

  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. 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! 😊

Leave a Reply to ben Alexander Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s