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The Sting of the Bard August 25, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in People, Sustainable Living, Word Play, Writing & Writers.

Which is mightier:  the pen or the sword?

We’ve been having a lively conversation on just this topic  this morning:  Jazz At The Lake 2008.

Which is more apt to bring about lasting change:  the sting of the bard’s barb . . . or poets stooping to pick up trash left by others every few feet?

I, of course, defended the pen (and poets everywhere):

* Thanks for raising awareness with this poem.  The more we talk about issues (littering, prejudice, animal abuse), the more we educate the masses to change their behavior.

After all, one poet cannot possibly stem the tide of styrofoam cups by stopping to pick them up . . . but one poet can turn the tide through effective imagery as you have done here.

Individual responsibility requires that we clean up our own mess, not that we tidy up after everyone else.

Poets use words to inspire. That is the best use of their talents.

[Poets], of course, should not toss styrofoam cups into the tide in [their] haste to share [pointed] observations with the world, but [they] need NOT stoop to pick up trash left behind by others before penning [their] poems.

Moralizing and pontificating about a specific response to a given situation does nothing about the other unresolved messes lying around.

Far better to raise eyebrows with a poem [or prose] so that people keep their own eyes open as they journey through life.

What say you . . . Pen or Sword? 

Which is more likely to turn the tide and bring about lasting change?

* * * * *

On a related note, here’s a thought I’ve had:

Instead of merely WALKING FOR DAYS to raise money and awareness for causes (breast cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, etc.) why not arm the MARCHERS with plastic bags and gloves.  That way, they can spend their time making a real difference to the planet by cleaning up the path as it unfolds before them.


1. Agatha82 - August 25, 2010

Your idea is a great one Nancy. Many years ago, I volunteered to go clean beaches here in Cornwall (SW England) for 7 days. It was a great experience so yep, if you’re walking, you might as well do something useful 🙂
P.S the pen is of course mightier than the sword, at least I think so.

nrhatch - August 25, 2010

Thanks, Agatha. I’ve often thought these marches to be a counter-productive use of time.

How does walking cure disease? It doesn’t.

Marchers who raise awareness (and funds) for one cause by actively working to solve another would cause me (and many others) to pull out our checkbooks.

I expect that most people agree that the pen is more likely to bring about lasting change than haphazard flinging about of “swords.”

2. Loreen Lee - August 25, 2010

In what way is picking up even your own litter, related in any way to a ‘sword’? I believe in calling a spade a spade, and therefore it is picking up litter.

nrhatch - August 25, 2010

Sorry that my analogy doesn’t meet with your approval. ; )

3. Loreen Lee - August 25, 2010

The other way of saying the quote, is that the pen is crueler than the sword.

nrhatch - August 25, 2010

Quite right.

4. booksphotographsandartwork - August 25, 2010

I agree with you about the walking issue. I do wish I was a poet or even a writer of some sort. Love the kitty clip art.

nrhatch - August 25, 2010

Right click on the kitty, and click “save picture as” to save it to your hard drive. Its tail flicks once posted in WP posts, but not while sitting on your hard drive. It’s from avatarist.com . . . a wonderful place to find graphics for your blog.

As far as being a poet, take one of you beautiful photos (perhaps the leaf against the window) and try capturing it in words. You might surprise yourself with the images you are able to share.

5. Nancy Curteman - August 25, 2010

I agree with your idea of marchers for a cause carrying litter bags. Why not help the earth while helping the people who inhabit it.

nrhatch - August 25, 2010

I’ve never understood the 3 days walks to raise awareness for breast cancer, or the all night walks around HS tracks for other causes.

If you’re gathering in mass, do something productive.

Thanks for stopping by NC!

6. cindy - August 25, 2010

March while cleaning up, I really like that idea.

nrhatch - August 25, 2010

You’re up early.

Enjoy the sunrise before you tackle the morning’s tasks and chores. : )

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