Wednesday, April 26, 2017

PAD Day 26: The Old Ways

Today's dual prompts from Poetic Asides and NaPoWriMo: (1) write a "regret" poem, and (2) write a poem "exploring a particular object or place from the point of view of some far-off, future scientist".

Lost Art

I've been working for years trying to interpret
an obscure style of calligraphy from ancient times,
created with writing implements and ink.
It's quite lovely, when done well.  Its practitioners,
apparently followers of a man named Palmer,
found a way to communicate with slanted swirls and loops,
connecting them into units that must have been words.
We have found evidence in the papers of schoolchildren,
who were taught to practice it early in life,
and we have found documents that may have been a way
of communicating love, or friendly greetings.
These people must have regretted losing the ability
to create such flowing, graceful writing.
I understand that feeling, because I am one of the last
of my kind to employ the form of written language
I am using now, called the "alphabet".
No one else seems to know how to read this anymore.
They all prefer using symbols like faces with emotions
and simple pictographs, a return to hieroglyphics,
or dare I say, cave drawings.
As one of the last of the historians and linguists,
I am trying to keep the old ways alive,
but the flame is starting to flicker out.

This is inspired by the reports I hear, in both the news and personal accounts (from teachers and even my youngest son) that kids are growing up these days with the inability to read and write in cursive. Handwriting itself seems to be a dying art, and even literacy seems to be in danger with all the new, faster and more efficient ways to communicate electronically. Oh well, call me an old fogey - I still know how to use an analog clock, a rotary phone, and a VCR.


Shannon Blood said...

So there with you on that one . . .

Vince Gotera said...

Ah yes, Palmer. That brings me right back to grade school! Thanks, Bruce. Great poem.

Is there a typo, by the way? Should "regretting" be "regretted"? Maybe I'm reading it wrong.

Vince Gotera said...

By the way, I was talking about this topic at an awards dinner recently and the person I was next to was a historian, who said that this would hamper the abilities of future historians to read original documents that are handwritten. In other words, they would have to learn a new skill that we all (well, no longer all of us) take for granted.

Bruce Niedt said...

That's fascinating. And thanks for the pickup on "regretting" - I changed it to "regretted".