Monday, February 14, 2011

Space Etheree

The Rosette Nebula
Credit & Copyright: Brian Lula

at deep space
images of
stars, nebula so
distant in space and time,
i marvel at how we can
imagine that we are somehow
not intimately related to
ALL earthlings both human and non-human.

—Dan Gurney

*Consisting of ten lines, the Etheree poem starts with a one syllable line, then adds one syllable per line, ending with a final line of ten syllables yielding an overall syllable count of 55. In other words the syllabic structure is as follows: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10. It’s an uncomplicated, unpretentious form of poetry that has the quality of slowly opening, like a flower.  Try composing one—you may like it!


steven said...

dan - the space between everything is imagined or there for some sort of comfort. i marvel that we haven't had visitors yet expanding the web of what we know as "the world". steven

Bonnie said...

Image and words take my breath away. Thank you Dan. Love everything about the form of an etheree.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, steven. To me, the space is real enough, as real as anything else. Space helps us differentiate so that we can know what we "know" about the world as it appears. The connections and the things that move through space (gravity, light) can be easily forgotten, though.

It's interesting to me, though, when regarding things so far away that we don't see the obvious connections between people and animals, say. We even manage to believe, falsely, that we are really very different from other people from other cultures. It amazes me that we do that.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi Bonnie. Thank you. I hope you'll try writing an Eheree. They're quite fun to compose.

Sherry Blue Sky said...


Margaret Pangert said...

Dan~ This image takes my breath away! Your poem shows us we really are one with the universe... I get such a sad feeling when I don't feel connected with the world in some way.
Om, Margaret

Sabio Lantz said...

Hey Dan,

Here is your "poem" written as prose:

"When staring at deep space images of stars, nebula so distant in space and time, i marvel at how we can imagine that we are somehow not intimately related to ALL earthlings both human and non-human."

I can imagine writing this by looking at the image, writing down my thoughts, then break down the syllables until they fit.

The Etheree is more like a constraint on the idea much like Twitter's 140 characters is a constraint and thus creating new form for thoughts with similar loop holes of grammar sacrifice (which is no loss to me).

But what do you see added by putting your thoughts in the mere paragraph from above, vs your Etheree. Or how about this dicing of words:

When staring at deep space
images of
nebula so distant in space and time,
i marvel
at how we can imagine
that we are somehow not intimately related
to ALL
human and non-human.

Does the division do something special?
Are your readers seeing something beautiful in your thought, the form, or some magic combination?

Concerning the content of your poem: I am reading David McMahan's book on "The Making of Buddhist Modernism". His chapters of "5. Buddhist Romanticism: Art, Spontaneity, and the Wellsprings of Nature." and "6. A Brief History of Interdependence" may be interesting to you to show how Modern Buddhism is marketed with the ideas of Romantics which seem to permeate your writings. He discusses how a sort of Monism has permeated much of Western modern Buddhism.

You might enjoy the book -- not sure if you read that sort of stuff.

I have just started twittering, and like the Etheree you introduced me to which I experimented with, I agree that it is fun to constrain thoughts and watch what you do with them as you try to fit them in a fixed form. Similarly, when writing, I sometimes try to repeat my thought in other languages to see how they feel in my head before fixing them into English.

Dan Gurney said...

Sherry Blue Sky and Margaret, thank you for commenting. If you like images like these, you might wish to visit:

which will take you to NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day which is what apod stands for.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Sabio, thanks for your thoughtful comments. You seem to capture my own doubting, skeptical mind and write it down for me in the comment sections. Thank you. I call it an unpretentious form of poetry for the reasons you're discussing in your comment. I haven't tried Twittering, but I bet I'd like it for the same reasons you do. If I were multilingual, I'd surely translate my more important English utterances into other languages to try them out of size. It would be especially interesting in languages whose grammar and syntax was pretty different I would guess.

I think you've just managed to put David's book on my reading list. You introduced me to him over on your blog and your recommendation carries weight with me. I'm going to guess your hunch that I will enjoy the book will prove out since you seem to see pretty accurately the thoughts I don't write down.

Wouldn't blogging be more interesting if we got more high-content thoughtful comments, like yours?

I think that's why I haven't nibbled on the Twitter hook's worm yet. I fear it would be perfunctory conversation, like what you hear in the hallways of a high school.

I'd be interested to hear a report about your experience of Twittering.

Again, thanks, Sabio, for wading through all this "prose."

The Pollinatrix said...

This poem gives me the sense of being in space seeing the Earth somehow through a telescope and a microscope at the same time.

Sabio Lantz said...

Hey Dan,
Awesome. I will be interested in hearing your thoughts about the book when you start reading it. Your prose are also fun to romp through. Glad to hear some of my ramblings meet your suspicions at some level.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi Polli, that's an interesting view. When you think of the vastness of space, our Earth can seem quite small indeed. There is no doubt that we are basically cousins with every other form of life. I was just reading in Discover magazine how we depend so much on bacteria in our gut. Trillions of them are at work there to help us digest food. Without them, we'd be goners. Bacteria.

Dan Gurney said...

Sabio, oh yeah. I think I'll do a post on how putting words in a poetic container transforms them subtly to the good.

Sabio Lantz said...

Cool, I will try to do a similar post with some counterpoints to the "Poetry is Sublime!"
reflex and see if we can get dialogue between the posts. Should be fun.

BTW, the Uke for sale on e-bay fell through. We will be looking elsewhere. Thanks for the recommendations! Go Ukes! --> now that DOES sound like a special form ! :-)

Anonymous said...


Dan Gurney said...

Thank you, Me. I zipped over to your blog and I like it. Well done!