DiscoverPoetry

Echoes from the Rock of Eternal Torment

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A collection of poems which flow through community life using proverbs as their foundation. Five rivers of different experiences.

Synopsis

Echoes of the Rock of Eternal Torment is about wisdom. It presents a collection of poems and prose woven around proverbs, which the sages of all time and clime create to assist us in keeping our cool in the storm's eye, in cracking the codes of creativity, and in upholding moral understandings and spiritual commitments to bring the best out of others.
In this work, Kyko-K breathes new life into a mode of thought and a style of communication that once flourished in indigenous societies and in mystical poetry circles around the world. The result is the re-creation of an ancient genre of poetry for which Kyko-K has coined the term of “wisdom poetry.”

Echoes from the Rock of Eternal Torment is a study in wisdom poetry, defined by the author as “the form of deep talk that uses proverbs as the substructures of poems”. Divided into five sections labelled as rivers, the poems are thematically collated into Nothingness, Eternity, Time, Self and Community. They take the reader on a journey through life: relationships, ways of being, societal expectations and attitudes. The many and varied nature references create a strong sense of place – Africa, with its bountiful natural landscapes and rich wildlife. Because each poem draws from proverbs, and the proverbs stem from the African continent, the reader’s five senses are readily engaged through the vivid imagery and evocative descriptions of community life. The poems’ foundations in proverbs provide a sense of timelessness that adds weight to their validity. Through similes and metaphors the narrative and situational poems invite a strong emotional response.


Proverbs are written in a certain style. Building poems on short-phrase sentences can create a stilted effect at times. It also leads to repetition, as some proverbs are used in multiple poems. However, it also fits the content because – as Kyko-K explains – “the proverb is the most deeply resonant verbal symbol”.


The main obstacle to this book is the typographic layout: the spacing leads to words being split, sometimes inadvertently creating new, smaller words, altering the meaning of the content. These gaps break the reader’s thoughts, interrupting the flow of the story and decreasing the profundity of the message. All lines start with capital letters, even when it’s clear that a second line is a continued thought. This also hinders fluency. The layout could be improved, abolishing the loose lines at the tops and bottoms of pages. The book’s presentation would benefit from altering the plain section headings to highlight them more effectively. Perhaps simple drawings could have been integrated, supplementing the cover illustration of the hand with five fingers which each have a hand of their own (indicating to this reader, at least the continuity of many aspects of life, interwoven with each other to make a whole).


The source of poems in this book is unique. It reframed my thinking as I found myself wondering, “What proverbs from my own language could I collate into wisdom poetry of my own?” Books that challenge and inspire me are those I aspire to put on my personal shelves. As the African proverb states, “When you stand tall in life, It is because you stand on the shoulders of so many ancestors”. Read Kyko-K’s book and stand taller.

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My first book features my journey through depression and into wellness. I’m working on my second book, with enough material for five such books featuring poems and art. I’ve scoped two prose books and a picture book. My ability to transcend these ideas into reality depends on time-watch this space!

Synopsis

Echoes of the Rock of Eternal Torment is about wisdom. It presents a collection of poems and prose woven around proverbs, which the sages of all time and clime create to assist us in keeping our cool in the storm's eye, in cracking the codes of creativity, and in upholding moral understandings and spiritual commitments to bring the best out of others.
In this work, Kyko-K breathes new life into a mode of thought and a style of communication that once flourished in indigenous societies and in mystical poetry circles around the world. The result is the re-creation of an ancient genre of poetry for which Kyko-K has coined the term of “wisdom poetry.”

One: The River of Nothingness



Bad Luck


When night finds you in the bush,

You lose your torch.

When adversity strikes,

Even honey itself becomes bitter.

When troubles come to a man,

Even his mule refuses to carry him.

When misfortune persists,

Even your dog bites you.


When your luck is in decline, devils come to bully you.

When bad luck hates you, the tortoise looks like a stone.

When back luck persists, a woman, even though already undressed,

Will refuse to sleep with you.


Just as extreme warmth brings about winds,

So extreme pleasure brings sorrow.

If you know plain food (without oil),

If you know frugality (in using delicacy),

You really know the misfortunes that destroy human beings.

Rather than eat that which is sweet and have trouble,

Eat that which lacks sweetness in peace.


On the day that you will go astray,

You need not travel far.

When the illness that will kill you comes,

You forget the doctor who could have cured you.

Misfortune does its work skillfully.


A Thousand and One Problems

 

The world is like a fishnet,

The more you stir in it,

The more it entangles you.

So long as you live, you cannot run away from challenges.

The settled person is the one who is dead;

As for the living, troubles still lie ahead.

Who has no problems in this world?

 

You who do not encounter the ups and downs of life,

Don’t laugh at the person who does,

It is a smoke that moves round.

Grow and you will see,

Mature and you will meet hardship.

A human being always catches hell.

If no flatterer greets you,

Tell yourself: “I have peace today!”


Life is like pepper.

If tears were a well, then no one would buy water.

Even the fish cries, but because it lives in water,

You do not see its tears.


No one has the power to wipe out all tears.

Suffering is man’s share.

Take it easy.

Life’s like that.


Tears do not cure sufferings,

Pains heal themselves.

Your crying and laughing are not far removed.

However long the night, dawn will break.


Whatever the trouble, it always has an end.

Challenges will pass, as said the wildcat in the thorns.

Crying Hot Tears


The hen of a lazy bum does not lay eggs;

Even if she lays eggs,

She never hatches;

And if she hatches,

She never rears the chicks;

And if she rears them,

The hawk takes the chicks.

Crying hot tears is the burden of a lazy bum.


Watching the antics of a fool is amusing,

But no one wants to bear a fool.

The woman who gives birth to a fool

Goes into labor every day.

Rather than bearing a fool,

It is better to bear a thief;

A thief is bad, a fool is not good.

Crying hot tears is the burden of a fool’s parents.

 


 

Work of Misfortune


One moment of mourning wipes out

Many days of laughter.

If you lose your father, you go crazy

Even if you are in good health;

If you lose your mother,

You lost what is the most important;

If you lose your older sibling,

You become old even though

You have no gray hair;

If you lose your younger sibling,

You feel uncomfortable;

If you lose your child,

You are always in need of help.


A dear friend who betrays his pledge;

A spouse who gives up on marriage

Only to become someone else’s wife;

A holy cow which lashes out at you;

An unsuccessful project for an aqueduct

To carry water to a village;

A beloved son who refuses

To help his elderly parents;

Those are the darkest of misfortunes.


The tongue always wants to place itself

Where a tooth is missing.

To lose one’s father in youth,

To lose one’s wife in middle age,

And to die without an heir;

These are the greatest misfortunes.

 


 

The Best Timing


Heaven reveals to no one what it will do.

You cannot rush the voice of Heaven.

Heaven does not hurry,

What it sends to Earth does not fail to arrive.


Gifts come from above;

Without such a blessing,

Man toils in vain.

Nobody is to blame for poor yields

When the sky has given no rain.

Life can only be controlled in Heaven.


Others cannot clear a grove in one’s heart.

The burden Heaven has placed on a man,

Another man will not take away.

If Heaven beats you up,

Heaven itself will console you.

 

You don’t yet have a sister

And you already want a nephew.

You are not yet a builder

And you are already erecting pillars.

Tempting Heaven is worse

Than casting a spell.


Focus


Do not act with the stupidity of rats:

In the night that is for sleep

They make a tumult.


You cannot enjoy two pleasures at once.

Between two stools you fall to the ground.

If you straddle two boats,

You are bound to fall into the water.

If you ride two horses, you’ll split asunder.

If you pursue two,

Even one you will not grasp.


No matter how fierce it is,

A dog cannot guard two houses at the same time.

If you trap two at the same time,

You’ll find that one has gotten away.

If you try two enterprises,

You lose your wits.


If you are looking for your camel,

Do not look at a goat.

If you see many things, you distract your mind.

Better to follow one thing and to master it deeply

Than to be lightly involved in two things and master neither.


Do not worry about mastering a thousand skills;

You need only one perfected skill.

Focus!



Don’t Brag about Heaven


You never forget the rain that drenched you,

And you never know when Heaven will send another rain.

So do not waste your time bragging that

Heaven is on your side.


If Heaven ever got on your side,

Your thinking would cease.

If Heaven gave you divine knowledge,

For sure, it would send you to an early grave,

For Heaven refuses to disclose all its secret powers.

Should someone discover you possess divine knowledge,

Then they themselves would stop creating and thinking.

Whoever finds ready-made solutions sets himself up for failure.


Just like when the hen raises its head to swallow water,

Say, “To the Heaven reverence!”

Heaven is like skins,

Everyone will adopt their own.

Knowing that everyone has Heaven in their heart,

Please, do not brag about Heaven.


About the author

Kyko-K, PhD, is a teacher, poet, wisdom keeper, and scholar of indigenous wisdom traditions. Kyko-K’s philosophical goal is to do for African wisdom what Laozi achieved for Chinese wisdom, becoming a wisdom-seeker who discovers a new trail of knowledge by following the footsteps of his ancestors. view profile

Published on February 05, 2020

Published by

20000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Poetry

Reviewed by

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