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Poem: "The Elements of Civilization" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "The Elements of Civilization"

This poem came out of the March 2, 2010 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from ellenmillion and moosl.  It was sponsored by haikujaguar as part of the 2010 Holiday Poetry Sale.  She invited me to pick out something suited to her tastes, from the poems I had on hand.  This is a Torn World poem about the Southern Empire, musing on what it means to be "civilized" -- hopefully a fun read for a lover of sociological fiction.  (I'll be submitting it to Torn World later, too.)  Happy holidays to everyone, and thank you for your support.

The Elements of Civilization

Civilization is made of these things:

The City which makes the citizen's home.
The Citizen who makes the city live.
The Water that is a nation's lifeblood.
The Egg that is food and procreation.
The Challenge that drives us to test limits.
The Rule that stops us from going too far.

These are the pillars of the Empire:
Those who stand within them are civilized,
Those who stand without them are barbarous.

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8 comments or Leave a comment
fayanora From: fayanora Date: December 18th, 2010 05:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Isn't Torn World full of humans? I read this poem, and got a distinct insectoid impression, like it was a hive civilization; especially when the egg was mentioned.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 18th, 2010 06:19 am (UTC) (Link)


Torn World is full of humans. Those symbolisms for "egg" are actually part of the human set. However, I allow that your insectoid interpretation also fits with the poem as written.
fayanora From: fayanora Date: December 18th, 2010 06:58 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

Heh, this poem helped inspire a Fishbowl poem. :-D
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 18th, 2010 07:13 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

Yay, spawn of the fishbowl!
haikujaguar From: haikujaguar Date: December 18th, 2010 01:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ah, I like the pattern in this one. And the Challenge/Rule combination is very nice indeed.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 18th, 2010 07:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I'm glad you like this.

I had fun exploring the balance points of civilization. The Challenge/Rule balance keeps things from either stagnating or exploding. A healthy civilization needs both.
endlessrarities From: endlessrarities Date: December 18th, 2010 04:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
'Sociological fiction' - I like that term.

And I really liked the poem, too...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 18th, 2010 05:21 pm (UTC) (Link)


>>'Sociological fiction' - I like that term.<<

I generalized that from "sociological science fiction," which is a recognized flavor of SF that emphasizes the effects of technology on human culture, or the exploration of alien cultures, that sort of thing. But folks write and read as much of that in fantasy as anything else, even occasionally horror; it's in some mainstream stuff too. Much of what I write has sociological aspects because I am fascinated by social trends and interactions and conflicts and oddities.

>>And I really liked the poem, too...<<

8 comments or Leave a comment