The Wise Fool


You can forgive a fool for being a fool,
But not a wise man.
A wise man should have known better.
That is, after all, what makes him wise.
So, ineluctably, a wise man who errs
Is no longer a wise man, but a fool,
And an unforgivable fool at that.
He deserves to carry his regrets to the grave,
But not before he has served
His donkey´s worth of penance;
Worn the preposterous ears;
Had the tail pinned on him by spiteful children;
Been followed by chuckles, winks and rumours.

Most amusement is afforded by the fool for love,
Being of a gentle sort, and unlikely to importune
With indignant protestations.
Here is one, presumed wise,
Who hid his lamp beneath the bushel of his heart,
And upon producing it
Discovered himself to be utterly mistaken.
And lo, now his beard is alight,
And he is in need of timely dousing.
Ever now a singed and timely fool.
The rightful butt of all.
To be thrust forward
Wheresoe´er a fool be needed,
For popular merriment.


It is arrogance,
Arrogance, plain and simple,
That has bought him to this low fool´s place.
With each sunrise, across the turning globe,
Men and women, throughout the day,
Fail in their millions of contests,
For power or labour, love or even life itself.
Would be workers are rejected.
Would be lovers are disdained.
Of those who vie for power,
The most will always lose.
But of all these, though perhaps dejected,
How few will fall into spiralling months
Of hermitic nightmare and black decay?
How very few?
Mostly, they will wrap their hurts in indignation,
Accepting failure as the common pattern of the World.
They will turn their lives to face another path,
And, from mischance, make of them something different.

But he,
Who has received already far too much by far,
Must have it all, or if not,
Will inflict, on life in general, a petulant withdrawal,
From the goodness of the days.
Like a child, he spites himself to spite the all,
Though he knows that Earth
Will ne´er disturb her dreaming slumbers,
To play such infant blackmail games.


Music has departed that once virile mind.
Its vibrant electricity has been dampened to a jaded hum.
The bright resounding cavern has become a muffled flue.
Notes that rang now fall with leaden thump,
And sparks flicker but desultorily ´twixt its ravaged dendrites.
Distrustful thoughts scuttle in the under-gloom,
Avoiding firm conclusions.
Imagination has cooled and settled to a slab of frigid irony.

It knows itself for mere machine.
That Soul has gone, and will not return, this life around,
Unless some special thing is done.
A thing most likely not within its power.

Thought sky trembles.
A bubble to be pricked.

Copyright © John Ferngrove 2009