Aphorisms by Kenneth Patchen

Another aphoristic addition to the site from James Finnegan, whose Aphorisms by James Finnegan are extremely rewarding…

I’ve had the Collected Poems by Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972) for many years, almost as long as I’ve been a poet. Patchen had a wide range in his poetry, from the whimsical to the politically acerbic. Recently I was pulling his collected from the shelf looking for a suitable love poem to read at a wedding. Patchen wrote many beautiful love poems, often the subject of his love poem was his wife, Miriam. Flipping through the book this time, I noticed for the first time that the penultimate piece in the book is small collection of aphorisms under the title, “’Gentle & Giving’ and Other Sayings.” Here are a few…

Gentle and giving—the rest is nonsense and treason.

No man’s life is beautiful except in hurtless work.

The autumn leaf is emblazoned with spring’s belief.

Truth is always what they don’t say.

Take taking from those who give and nobody anywhere will need any more such gifts.

Law and order embrace on hate’s border.

An ear with a hippopotamus attached—what an amazingly unlikely way for the buzz of a tiny fly to get itself heard!

In the love of a man and a woman is the look of God looking.