Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "Merit, Like a River"

This poem came out of the October 20, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by LJ user Book_worm5. It also fills the "priceless" square in my 9-4-14 card for the [community profile] genprompt_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. It belongs to The Ocracies series.


"Merit, Like a River"


It was not necessary
to make a big fuss about
one's abilities, even though
they shaped one's life.

It was only necessary
to know them, to understand
one's strengths and weaknesses,
so that one might make
appropriate choices.

The Meritocracy of Rolane
was a rough land flanked by
nettlesome neighbors, but it
was beautiful in its own way.

Wild rivers cut through the rocky soil,
and tough trees clung to the stones.
Birds flew by on their migrations;
animals, shy and fierce, roamed
through the thorny thickets.

Because it was challenging
to survive in Rolane, the folk were
practical in choosing leaders by worth.

Merit, like a river,
ran from here to there,
carrying with it the flotsam
and jetsam of people who
did not fit where they
had been born.

So every year, they held
the Festival of Facility.

It was at heart a hiring faire, for
although the government threw open
certain offices to talented foreigners,
any business in want of employees could
set up a table where those not quite
good enough for government work
might apply for other opportunities.

Immigrants got a chance to make
a new life, and Rolane benefited
from the other nations overlooking
some priceless diamonds in the rough.

There were contests of strength
and speed, intelligence and ethics.
There were debates and dances,
riddles and races and boulder throws.

The winners accepted their ribbons
and quiet congratulations.

The losers went off to try
their skills at another table.

It was not a particularly
boisterous festival, but then,
it didn't need to be in order
to get the job done.

The people of Rolane were
like its rivers, quiet and deep,
cutting a path even through
the mountains, into stone.

* * *

Notes:

"True merit, like a river, the deeper it is, the less noise it makes."
-- E. F. L. Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax

A meritocracy governs based on positions earned through skill.

Throwing sports employ a wide range of projectiles. The people of Rolane have plenty of rocks, so that's what they throw. Among the common versions are contests to see who can throw a given rock the farthest, and who can throw the biggest rock over a line.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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