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Philosophical kissing


Have you not heard of that ancient custom?

Have you not heard of that ancient custom? 
Two people breaking a piece of pottery
As though breaking bread
Each keeping one fragment
Because 'each one of us is a fragment of a man' (Plato, Symposium)
And when they met again years later
Barely recognisable to each other
They put the pieces back together
— a symbol of their enduring friendship:
Have you not heard of that ancient custom
Reenacted tonight
In the Kiss
Taking us beyond subject and object
('When it comes to the kiss, philosophy has very little to say,'
you once protested, adding soon after:
'It would seem that the lovers of wisdom don't know how to kiss!')
How things have changed!
Always longing for union
With my other (and better) half
The two pieces, long astray
Finally fitted together
In a union of knower and known
'For knowledge becomes love' (Gregory of Nyssa, De Anima et resurrectione)
As though it was 1975 again.

N. N. Trakakis 


Love Psalm

Afterwards, in the indigo evening
We lie in crushed grass
Soaking up its sweet scent and stain.
Our fingers loosely entwine.
Suspended in calm
Our single mind listens
To the nightingale of our tenderness. 

Vivien Arnold

N. N. Trakakis headshot N. N. Trakakis is a Research Fellow in Philosophy at the Australian Catholic University. He works mainly in the philosophy of religion, and has also published four volumes of poetry, the most recent being From Dusk to Dawn (2012). He edited Southern Sun, Aegean Light: Poetry of Second-Generation Greek-Australians (Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2011). 

Vivien Arnold headshotVivien Arnold has had careers in teaching, the public service and as director of a small HR company. She conducted St Christoper's Cathedral choir for eight years, has been active for over 40 years as a director in amateur theatre, and composes music for theatre and sacred choral works. Her dramatised oratorio The Naming of the Women was staged last year. She is working on another based on the story of Job. 

Topic tags: new australian poems



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Existing comments

'For knowledge becomes love'? -Gregory of Nyssa, 'He who lovest me best knowest me best.' -Jesus

Myra | 22 April 2013  

Both poems sublime, thanks. I got married in 1974!

Pam | 22 April 2013  

The kiss has symbolised many things throughout history: a time of leaving; a time of arriving; a time of betrayal; a time of simplicity; a time of passion; a time of contentment; a time of healing; a time of friendship and a time of love. Karl Rahner in his correspondence with Elizabeth Rinser, described the kiss as "an exchange of love breaths" Trakakis records what many of us know, not by way of our intellect but by way of feeling, that the kiss is a time of union. Such union a kind of mystical mingling that defies description, but the sense of dissolving two-ness into one-ness is nevertheless powerfully real ---- for some people on some occasions.

Garry | 23 April 2013  

Death is coming to me as the divine kiss which is both parting and reunion - which takes me from your bodily eyes and gives me full presence in your soul.George Eliot

Bernstein | 23 April 2013  

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