Pious Beauty - Dela Bobobee

Beauty’s true constituents lie
beyond the limits of aesthetics
and far above defined symmetry
it takes its originality from virtue
that is peerless and above pettiness

show me what is truly beautiful
and I will show you a pious beauty
distilled in an African pot of honey
tanned in tasseled primordial kiln
on the shores where the sun shines

true beauty is in the deepest recess
of the prehistoric arboreal canopy
that is wild, unseen and untainted
by man’s restless fingers that sour
hives nurtured by nature in secret

once I saw a pious beauty laid waste
on the banks of an old swallow creek
where in a flurry orchids crisscross lilies
O! my skin may be too proud to blush
but my heart bled for a mangled goddess

when will our insane prodding fingers
cease to wither buds before they bloom?
pluck hatchlings from nature’s nursery
before they plum and learn to fly free?
detoxify the atmosphere before we choke?

perhaps until we set the sun at dawn
before it rises to silence our heartbeats.


LS said...


Thanks for your poem. However forgive me for saying this, but it has defeated my several attempts at its reading.

It could just be my way of reading (since criticism is subjective), but I have a feeling I'm hampered by syntax and diction.

It may also have something to do with the fact that the poem uses abstractions to express an abstract idea, and so creates distance between poem and reader.

Was that a deliberate choice on your part? Was that the effect you wanted to achieve?

Please bear in mind I have no wish to disrespect your work.


Anonymous said...

bluntly this man is just tryin 2 hard---overripe.Sid

Darko Antwi said...

1. "The successful development of an image to any considerable length is beyond the capacity of all but the best writers."

The above quotation from H.Coombes defines a few OGOV poets, including Dela.

2. "The visual element in the image is emtionally charged. It is inseparable from the moving thought ( and relentless rhythm)".

The second quotation by Coombes, on Marvell's 'To His Coy Mistress', bears a striking resemblance to Dela's work, 'Pious Beauty'( which I think would go a long way to play an integral role in the OGOV revival, if well-criticised).

However good we might have seen Dela's work, Coombes goes on to warn [and I expand] that; such poetry with high concentration of imagery / metaphor can appear clumsy - and can very much turn a concrete idea into abstract. I'm glad L.S has already pointed-out this fact with reference to Dela's diction - which is very photographic of his imagery.

Coombes stressed [and I paraphrase] that the frequent development and elaboration of feeling is more likely to muddle a poem. That is especially true in 'Pious Beauty', where an issue (or object) is grossly emphasised by the poet.

In the history of this magazine, we have come across those who have written after their idol-poets. And there is a minor, Martin Egblewogbe, who writes to suit his taste instead. None of them could be judged wrong. After all, the common key we have to hold-onto is to write a marketable poetry.

In that wise [thus with respect to the poetry market], Martin's taste subconsciouly becomes the peoples tase - despite his smart pronouncement of self-pleasing scripts. For instance, if a fashion designer has a good eye for colour and texture, his personal choice will turn-out to be a public material. It's no wonder that Martin ended-up with one of the best scores from L.S Mensah's praise: "This poem is rather more contemporary than most works posted here."

Coming back to Dela, I will say that he should loosen his grip a bit. Else his work may only be suitable for him and a few intellectuals - thereby making it hard for the commoner to grasp the symbolic momentum bedrocked in this poem, for example.

One thing that impresses me is Dela's resouceful description of 'beauty'.Very philosophical.

Rob Taylor said...

I'd like to throw a quote into this conversation, from the great Canadian poet Al Purdy:

"To my mind, what a poem ought to do is cause the reader to feel and think, balanced on nearly the same moment as myself when I wrote it. And I’d prefer to be understood with a minimum of mental strain by people as intelligent or more so than myself."

What I'd like to focus on is this part about "people as intelligent or more so than myself". Purdy was no "intellectual" - he wrote "accessible" poems for the people. Still, he believed in not dumbing himself down for his reader. He was suggesting: say things as clearly as you can, but don't say less than you can.

I only bring this up because I think that the comments so far (more the last two than L.S.'s) can be interpreted both as "say things more clearly" (which I agree with) and "say things more simply" or "say less" (which I don't necessarily agree with).

I suppose I am trying to figure out what "trying too hard" and "loosen your grip" and similar statements mean, because they seem to suggest that a way to improve the poem would be to think or do less, when in my mind the opposite is true: even the smallest, simplest (in appearance) poem requires great focus and effort to be done well.

Darko Antwi said...

Wow, I'm taught. I've picked some relevant points from you, Rob.

Right, although I disagree with the synonymous 'say things less (by any defination of the word 'less')', I am yet to believe if 'say(ing) things more simple' has any probability of enhancing clarity of speech. If it has any mark (probabilty score) above zero, then 'say things more simple' would be equal to 'say things more clearly' (which you favour). Why?... because the saying of things clearly to any measure has its own inbalances and high-notes to the mind of each individual listener.

Relating it to Dela's poem, the quantity of speech wouldn't have mattered if he had balanced it with a clearer syntax (as mentioned by L.S) for readers to 'understand with a minimum of mental strain'.

Well, once we all can't be the kind-hearted Al Purdy (to write or would 'prefer' to write ideally to the understanding of all levels), I pardon Dela.

Thanks Rob - for this insight.

Nana Jabuu Agyemang said...

I am in love with this work and i for one believe that no matter how good a person writes if he is not able to express his thoughts in a way that will make the readerthink and picture then he wrote nothing at all.

Dela your work is truely original.

Rob Taylor said...

I think we're on the same page, Darko.

Darko Antwi said...

Rob, it's true we are. For I understand that as far as 'clear' is clear (and unrestricted by clause or degree of satisfaction), your explanatory phrase, "saying things more clearly", goes well to interprete Purdy.

And most importantly, clarity is something a writer should aspire if he could.

Having said that, I admit I was tracking Dela by the frequency of the things he said - and by so doing ignoring clarity which was at stake.

Nana, we will be glad you contribute very often. That's cool of you.

Dela Bobobee said...

I hereby wish to thank you guys who commented on my poem, “Pious Beauty”. All your assessments of its perceived good or bad qualities are well noted. Useful suggestions and advice freely given are highly appreciated and would be considered as a road map for my next creations in gestation.

I however wish to add that, I would have been very disappointed if my poem had not generated such controversy among the critics. Why do I say that? Ok, I will explain. I believe this can serve as a way of my contribution to the topic earlier raised in OGOV Roundtable Discussion #5 - “What makes good poetry and who decides it?” If I may be permitted I would like to use "Pious Beauty" as reference point.

Some very useful questions were raised by LS and answers must be provided. I have submitted a thorough bisection of the poem. If accepted for publication it would be showcased in OGOV Roundtable #5 forum, perhaps for us all learns one or two things from it.

Thanks again.
Dela Bobobee