The irony of elemental questions

Water flows where bid, willingly;
fire warms all, indiscriminately;
stone endures, patiently;
but this is not me, consistently.
And you?

There it is again in force,
that despite all this, it is us ‘we’ they say
who are the worthiest of reflections.
Yet gifts beg choices, as well we know—
how does the old trope go?
What a piece of work are we?
Close enough.

This poem pairs five elements with five virtues but more importantly notes that the elements are more worthy of their nature because they remain true to it.

Intended as an homage to, and to explore the nature of one of my favorite quotes, The irony of elemental questions is really only a pale and poor imitation of that original quote which is, truthfully, far more perfect than anything I could ever write:

They should conduct themselves in such manner that the earth upon which they tread may never be allowed to address to them such words as these: “I am to be preferred above you. For witness, how patient I am in bearing the burden which the husbandman layeth upon me. I am the instrument that continually imparteth unto all beings the blessings with which He Who is the Source of all grace hath entrusted me. Notwithstanding the honor conferred upon me, and the unnumbered evidences of my wealth—a wealth that supplieth the needs of all creation—behold the measure of my humility, witness with what absolute submissiveness I allow myself to be trodden beneath the feet of men….” —Bahá’u’lláh

Thank you for reading The irony of elemental questions. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.


PS: forgive the mangled quote from Shakespeare. I really can’t help myself.

© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge,


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2 responses to “The irony of elemental questions

  1. I suppose humility is the key.