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The Stuff of Virtue - a poem

Updated on January 18, 2014
Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran is a writer & former newspaper reporter/editor who traveled the world as a soldier's better half. Her works are on Amazon.

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How easy to say the pious things;

to stand before the crowd

and let the platitudes fall

like white, waxen pearls among the listeners.

How easy to command respect

with verses from the sainted scholars

to whom virtue must have come simply,

as we repeat their wisdom as cliche.


But then,

behind the closet door,

with no audience to applaud,

those pious words echo hollow,

those scholars are stone busts again.

And all we have to cut the shame

is whatever virtue we retain.

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    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Oh my, Kathleen. Pithy, intense, reflective of real life and of the human condition. This took my breath away, I like it very, very much. Using pearls called forth resonances from scripture of course - wonderfully done.

      Seems a departure from your usual style, if so, I salute departures. Sharing.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Pithy, huh? I'll have to try to do that more often! Thanks for your never-ending support. I'm moving my poetry back to HP after a disappointing experience on another site. I always feel like HP doesn't appreciate poets, but I've met some new poetry-lovers during this transition. That's definitely worth the effort.

    • profile image

      pochinuk 3 years ago

      Kathleen,

      ",,,How easy to say the pious things;…"

      "...as we repeat their wisdom as cliche…."

      "... stone busts again…"

      I was once like a rock jutted out on a mountainside…thinking "the thing in hand" had to be told. (Perhaps when I am eighty-two, I will again say this of myself at this time)

      Truth: Wisdom crys in the streets; not me.

      My virtue:

      I have been created in an image; and in old age

      I chip at the gladness that now remains: its not the

      "stone bust" I carve out for myself.

      Your Poem: An Astutely Restorative Song !

      Given like the mental calm beside still waters.

      -pochinuk

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      pochinuk: You are like a great editor. You've made a poem of my poem. I even think I like yours better! Welcome to my hubs. I hope you read more of them. Would love your comments.

    • profile image

      pochinuk 3 years ago

      Kathleen,

      Mm..didn't even notice.

      Editing scares me.

      I did not know if I wanted to even comment for a second time on the same hub, never did that before.

      My comments here are only to carry a torch for you!

      I think your photo, a similitude of the waterways where I live; must have put me in the mood to be "versical": my new made up word for when something like this happens:

      "...you made a poem of my poem..."

      (* versical: versatile and verse

      pochinuk

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      This was taken in Bar Harbor, Maine. I imagine it is similar to where you live, which is on my wish list of travel sites.

      Honored to be your second time around!

    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 3 years ago from Reno NV

      Very well written poetry, memorable lines and thought provoking. Jamie

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      jhamann: Thanks again. Memorable? I hope!

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Kathleen - At a second read, I think this is one of my favorite poems. I like the lyricism of the words and the muscle of the meaning, And the philosophical turns.

      "pochinuk" is pretty incredible. What a gift! Sharing.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Even now, re-reading this poem, I'd change around a word or two. Is anything ever DONE? The message strikes me hard. So glad it still moves you.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Then by all means, change a word or two. I agree, I am not sure anything is ever completely done and I think our tastes change a little and our ear gets finer. I don't change much or very often, but I do make changes. :) Breakfast in a few minutes. :)

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 3 years ago from California

      Such a wonderful piece--a piece that can stay with the reader long after it is read--

    • sujaya venkatesh profile image

      sujaya venkatesh 3 years ago

      good composition kat

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      phdast7, Audrey and sujaya: Thanks so much. Poetry is such a specific taste, you never know who you will speak to with each poem. Love that this one stays with you!

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 14 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Hmm....at a third reading it still holds up so very well, still pithy and intense and quite wonderful. :)

      History conference tomorrow. Made myself stay at RU today until 7:00 pm, but I got all the midterm exams graded. Didn't want them hanging over my head. Sunday I will be doing something to celebrate Matthew's 9th birthday, so between conferences and little boy's birthdays, this was not a weekend for grading. :)

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 14 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Enjoy the conference. Hate to miss the road trip. Having lunch Saturday with my sisters for Sandra's b-fay. (That was the thing.) It's ads road trip of its own to get up to Ballground!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 5 weeks ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Another Happy National Poetry offering!

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