Summary of the Poem Philosophy

Summary of the Poem Philosophy by Nissim Ezekiel

Summary of the Poem Philosophy : “Philosophy” appeared in Nissim Ezekiel’s fifth volume of poems which was published in 1965 under the title of “The Exact Name”.

Summary of the Poem Philosophy

Introduction of Poem “Philosophy”:

“Philosophy” appeared in Nissim Ezekiel’s fifth volume of poems which was published in 1965 under the title of “The Exact Name”. It is one of Ezekiel’s most abstract poems. Ezekiel is certainly interested in the real world of human beings and in the familiar manifestations of human natures, as also in human inter-relationships. But one of Ezekiel’s basic concerns has always been philosophy or the speculations of the human mind.

Ezekiel had become interested in philosophy and philosophical speculations quite early in his life so that, when he was living in the basement of a house in London, he declared in one of his poems that his three companions at that time were philosophy, poverty, and poetry. His interest in philosophy continued in his subsequent life; and that is why this poem begins with the line: “There is a place to which I often go”. Although he recognizes the value of philosophy, and of science too, he feels that poetry is even more valuable.

Text of Poem “Philosophy”:

There is a place to which I often go,
Not by planning to, but by a flow
Away from all existence, to a cold
Lucidity, whose will is uncontrolled.
Here, the mills of God are never slow.

The landscape in its geological prime
Dissolves to show its quintessential slime.
A million stars are blotted out. I think
Of each historic passion as a blink
That happened to the sad eye of Time.

But residues of meaning still remain,
As darkest myths meander through the pain
Towards a final formula of light.
I, too, reject this clarity of sight.
What cannot be explained, do not explain.

The mundane language of the senses sings
Its own interpretations. Common things
Become, by virtue of their commonness,
An argument against their nakedness
That dies of cold to find the truth it brings.

Summary of the Poem “Philosophy”:

The Poet’s Strong Interest in Philosophy:

The poet often studies philosophy and indulges in philosophical speculations, and he does so, not according to any pre-conceived plan, but naturally, as if propelled by an urge from within himself. On such occasions he tears himself away from his physical environment, and enters a sphere which is governed by the ways and rules of philosophy. The poet knows that philosophy employs the method of logic and reasoning and that this is a method which is “cold” because it is totally devoid of any emotion. In this sphere there is no dearth of ideas. Philosophers are by no means slow in producing new ideas and theories about this universe.

The Limited Value of Science:

The science of geology, says the poet, throws considerable light on the nature and history of the earth which in pre-historic times was nothing but mud, though the earth subsequently underwent many changes and is therefore now vastly different from what it originally was. Furthermore, the evolutionary process is always at work and, in the course of this process, numerous new stars came into existence and they all went out of existence. The poet goes on to say that all the changes and the convulsions, which this earth has undergone, do make a strong impact on the human mind which experiences many agitations because of them. But the poet regards all those changes and convulsions as no more significant than a momentary shutting of our eyes which we open again.

The Inadequacy of Philosophy and Science to Explain All the Mysteries:

Philosophy as well as science provides us with much knowledge about this universe. Philosophy does so through its speculations and its method of cold reasoning and logic, while science does so through its cold and unemotional researches. But philosophy and science leave many things unexplained, with the result that our minds struggle and strive painfully to get at some formula which can solve the mysteries of the human mind and human nature. The poet rejects the clear-cut answers which philosophy and science give to our questions because, in the poet’s view, philosophy and science are simply incapable of explaining certain things and because they should, therefore, not try to explain those matters.

The Language of the Senses or the Language Employed in the Writing of Poetry:

There is a language, says the poet, which is not the language of philosophy or science. This is the language of the senses; and this language is employed in the writing of poetry to deal with those matters which are beyond the scope of philosophy and science. Poetry deals with common things; and the treatment of common things by poetry shows the ineffectiveness of philosophy and science to deal with these matters. As compared with the method of poetry, the methods employed by philosophy and science are like dead bodies which are in no way helpful in throwing light on the mysteries puzzling mankind. Philosophy and science adopt the methods of logic and reasoning which are unemotional, while poetry employs the vibrant method of an emotional treatment of common things which are the real substance and fabric of poetry.

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