The old-fashioned tendency to use a poem “to point a moral”–“Aggregates”

Sometimes, it’s fun to unearth an old-fashioned poetry book, one which has a lot of good poems, vital and essential and award-winning poems, but which in addition has a number of more average attempts to charm or woo our interests.  And among these more average poems, there are always a number of poems, even by major authors, which “point a moral and adorn a tale,” to quote a phrase.  They are collected as a form of offering comfort in addition to presuming to give guidance, because many people find reassurance in the mere fact that someone else thinks it possible to give guidance at all, with our poets (and poetasters, sometimes) becoming our spiritual parents, teachers, leaders.  So, with appreciation for all those poems I was forced to read in childhood by my teachers, poems which were usually of this ilk, and which reinforced their ideas with rhymes and other poetic devices, I offer this poem of my own, which came along as most poems do, mysteriously to some degree, deliberately to some degree:


Little pebbles gathered up
Make a mighty mountain

Little waters borne together
Gush a fulsome fountain

Little kisses, little hugs
Raise our expectations

Little lies and little slights
Douse our speculations.

Little moments, little days
Bear us slowly deathward

Little glories, little rays
Show our sun at westward.

Little hopes and little fears
Sum up our claim on heaven

Little sins and little graces
Weigh our scales down even.

When we must, we add things up
As well as we are able

So let us live by careful sums
Here ends my counting fable.

©6/21/18 by Victoria Leigh Bennett



Filed under Literary puzzles and arguments, Poetry and its forms and meanings, What is literature for?

2 responses to “The old-fashioned tendency to use a poem “to point a moral”–“Aggregates”

  1. This brings back a whole host of half imagined/misremembered verses and a time of life when things were easier to explain. We seem to lose that and go write essays on such matters when we get older. We could all do with some simpler ways of communicating which are also good for reminiscing purposes! Lovely.

  2. Thanks so much, Ste J, both for reading and for your generous comment. I also tried to reward the dyed-in-the-wool hard poetry fans by making “raise” in the third stanza point back to “mountains” in the first, and “douse” in the fourth point back to “gush” in the second, as well as having an altered rhyme scheme a little later on. I like to change things around a bit, and of course this is more a “moral tale” than a “fable,” but “fable” is a more general term, and rhymed, so there you go. I hoped it would be one of those poems which seem simple at first, but are more giving on the second go-round (assuminig one decides to go that far!).

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