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The Way of Narcissus

This poem or stanza The Way of Narcissis is written by our regular contributor David McNeil who was inspired to write the verses for Remembrance Sunday.

We think we know the meaning of the story of Narcissus.  He spurned Echo, who fell in love with him.  In return, he was cursed to gaze forever into a pool, looking at his own reflection.  Falling in love with that, he lost weight and died.  This, in our time, has been translated into a neurotic obsession. Echo was a nymph who, according to some, babbled until she annoyed people and Hera took away her voice allowing her only to “echo” others.  Two people. One without an original voice and the other obsessed with what others said about him.  Here is the tragedy.  It is born of our time.


Photograph by Alberto Cuccodoro

The photograph was taken by Alberto Cuccodoro a photographer from Turin, Italy, to complement David’s Verses. To find out more about Alerto click here

Stanza I

To all upon that bloodied field,

At the sacred eleventh hour,

A silence came on a darkening breeze;

And the leaden sky did glower.

As the last case from a smoking breech

To the bloodied earth did fall,

All stood silent and did the sky beseech

That Man could escape this thrall.


Stanza II

And in the trench, all fenced with pain,

The men now stood arranged.

With arms reversed, weeping long-held tears,

These, to thoughts of home now strained.

The last commands of the Bombardier,

The squaddies heard with delight;

Then the horses drew the guns away,

To a far horizon bright.


Stanza III

The men returned, to loves lost and kin;

To fates unknown and fields.

But the scars remained, and with parades did march,

As the archive film was reeled.

Then came the flowers, black and red,

They clutch’d the infinit’d Cenotaph;

And the bands rolled drums on Remembrance Day,

As the factories dismissed the staff.


Stanza IIII

Lessons learned with blood, vain shed, ignored;

Did pass from mud to page.

And the nations sought to build the peace;

But resident anger was hard to assuage!

So, among the promises ─NEVER AGAIN!

Reparations rose from treaties;

And accusations flew with strident shouts;

That the signing hands were traitors.


Stanza V

But now siren, subtle, voices speak

Of dubious conspiracies;

And that the combined might of Emperors;

Sought to enslave new technologies.

For Tesla warned, when in mortal coil,

That powers unseen, unleashed;

Were better kept tethered, and concealed

─And never to Man be released.


Stanza VI

And so the dying nations sought to keep

Their dominance well sustained.

By control of power, food and steam;

Over client states now entrained.

And this, an erstwhile domination,

Once thought to be in tatters,

May be rising again in altered guise;

It is this ─ to us─ that matters!


Stanza VII

For the tentacles of Global reach;

Now are by technologies entwined;

And as one within his trilogy wrote;

We, in darkness, could be bound.

As years of peace did roll from Armistice,

With good intent and subtle built;

With fatal flaws, bound in money’s laws;

It did collapse – but where the guilt?


Stanza VIII

In Bretton’s Woods, the sages spoke

In monied florid tones.

Of the need for financial stability-

As the nations buried their bones.

But financial models were cast aside;

New global strife now simmered.

And designs of others now arose,

And a darker hope now glimmered.


Stanza VIIII

For the architects of modern tyrannies;

The older model they now espied;

Thus the new emboldened hegemony

Built the new alliance as widows cried.

The sages who, in Bretton’s Woods

Sought to heal the ancient cracks

Did point to Weimar’s catastrophe

As the Deutschemarks were paid in stacks.


Stanza XX

“’twas the failure of sound-based money-“

Those at Bretton’s Woods opined.

But to this lesson, in our latter days,

The new antagonists are blind.

For all the good intentions,

That some think smoky tricks

It was the curbs on modern inflations

That deprived money traders of their kicks.


Stanza XX1

In earlier times, a supplicant could,

With hard cash buy the Gilded ounce;

-And thus it was ─I promise to pay;

That guaranteed cheques not to bounce!

Thus currencies were to gilt standard linked,

And banknotes underwritten.

But as America, from ‘nam, did extricate,

The gold link with Bretton was smitten.


Stanza XXII

And now we are in latter days;

And conflict goes undeclared.

One can sense the presence of the Condottiere,

Roaming all nations on earth, arms bared!

Technology weaves its curious spells,

Through screens with subtle light;

But McLuhan rang the alarum bells,

Saying the medium had the greater might!


Stanza XXIII

The hinges of fate, since the dawn of time,

Hung fast upon many screws.

But by subtle means the mind is swayed,

By things not in the news.

Reality is now virtual;

These two we now conflate

As we gaze at screens, see dubious things;

And we stand at the gates of fate.



Millennials, with star-struck eyes,

Beheld their inherited world.

And Baby-boomers, fast pushed aside;

Were into a dust cart hurled.

In youthful, ebullient, soft-spoke tones,

They proclaimed their new world order.

With democracy upon a hand-held screen

─And “friends” on a menu server.


Stanza XXV

For those we lost, on land and sea,

We wish the life eternal.

And for ourselves, the inheritors,

We should forever be grateful.

For these, the names on sundry stones;

Are in living sacrifice enthroned;

But our modern life, from day to day,

Is in Facebook, to be entombed.


Stanza XXVI

Our years will be remembered;

For thefts and frauds and screws;

And accusations fly, in absent proof,

That all is just “fake” news!

But we, who gave our data,

Are just as much as gullible:

And that we are deceived by the blue-toned screen;

Is that Man, as always, is fallible!


Stanza XXVII

And as we stand, at the eleventh hour;

As the hundredth year doth pass;

We remember all that Man has done;

And hope these tribulations will be the last!

But much has gone awry;

Since they stood on that muddied field;

So we must look upon ourselves;

─The question:  Are we derailed?

To read a full explanation of David’s Poem visit this website