The wisdom of folly—a poem

Photo of a beach in Wellington city, sunshine, pohutukawa trees throwing long shadows, choppy sea, only three people visible
The wisdom of swimming at an early morning city beach. Wellington, 22 December 2021.

The wisdom of folly

Some days I'm wise
not from natural goodness but
by some lucky fluke 

and other days
I cannot even guess
at what is wise.

I cannot see it
cannot know it, cannot do it
surely cannot be it.

Wisdom. It defies
our efforts to define it.
When we say, "That's wise"

perhaps we mean that we agree 
with some advice
or wish it to be true.

But once in a while 
someone will rule a line
between the truth and lazy lies

straighten all our leanings
settle all our fevered doubts 
at once

with a noble certainty 
a brutal certainty.
Then pause! Be cautious:

nobody is infinitely wise. 
Better to accommodate some folly
than to be always right 
always the sage.

~ Rachel McAlpine 2021 

That’s a first second draft of an instant poem and it will change again or disappear. Maybe it should be called The folly of absolute wisdom?

May you find the happiness within this holiday season.

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19 thoughts on “The wisdom of folly—a poem

  1. I love your instant poems.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      That’s good to hear, Anne. When they arrive before breakfast it’s almost alarming!

  2. Alan Ralph says:

    A lot of ‘wisdom’ is either lessons learnt from mistakes, caution before leaping to a conclusion, or stepping back and double-checking that things are the way you thought they were. Plus the odd lucky fluke from time to time. 🙂

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Some (all?) psychologists see wisdom as a character trait, but if so, it’s surely very rare.

  3. My wisdom is usually from remembering and not repeating past mistakes. But sometimes, I just make a guess and end up lucky!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I think that’s a fundamental factor of wisdom!

  4. Any wisdom I have exhibited has been purely coincidental.
    I hope you have a peaceful and enjoyable Christmas Rachel and a happy, healthy New Year.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Same here. And also debatable. Thank you, Peter. I wish the same good things for yourself.

  5. judithhb says:

    Hello Rachel. I am still waiting for the wisdom that comes with age. Waiting… Waiting. Have a happy Christmas and maybe will catch up in the New Year, two elderly Wellingtonian’s.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I so agree! Old age has arrived alone without that hoped-for wisdom. (Yes — And bloggers.)

  6. There is so much I relate to in this poem. I think many of us sometimes feel clueless on some days and an expert on others. One thing I try to be consistent in is self-love. Otherwise, we’re hard on ourselves when we don’t always know or aren’t perfect.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      That seems like an excellent choice when we have so many chances to be foolish.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    I also feel that it is largely luck when a wise comment comes out of my mouth.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Hear hear! There’s nobody more astonished than me when it happens

  8. ivor20 says:

    “Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door.” … Emily Dickinson ..

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Welcome to Emily: please visit often

  9. alison41 says:

    I enjoyed your poem, recognised and empathised with the theme. Festive greetings to all and wishes for a peaceful, healthier 2022. And an under the chin tickle and rub for Ursula, in honour of the season.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      That’s such a welcome message, Alison. Of course I will pass on your tickle and rub to Ursula. Have a happy day!

  10. I was going to comment on the demise of Classic Editor but it looks like Comments are closed–or at least from my end. So, continuing off topic, I never liked Block Editor and still use Classic Editor. I think it’s only available if you jump through a few hoops of upgrading. I like it because everything I do is easy to get to and I’m used to it. It seemed to me that Block Editor was somehow limiting my options and cumbersome.

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