Ask Priestess Diotima
Karl Constantine FOLKES 1935 (Portland)
What divine fervor drives my quill?
Ask Diotima, priestess of Hellenic world.
She will tell you it is Love.
She will declare to you quite solemnly:
It is The Poetics of Becoming.
It is the creative umbilical drive.
It is the creative feminine urge
that drives some mad,
while turning others into saints—
if not philosophers.
Ask Plato; better yet, ask Socrates,
whereof cometh his wisdom.
He, Socrates, holding symposium…
in dialogue only with men…
With men wisened from fermented grape,
their rational mind in furious pursuit
of shallow, impotent perfection…
Haunted by distaff knowledge,
by the wisdom of their mothers…
Their mothers spindle of knowledge…
of ancient knowledge, ever spinning—
And priestess Diotima, then…
in their own time, even in ours as well,
inviting dialectic conjunction
of matter and of spirit.
Informing us, with feminine eloquence
that the creative spark of poetry…
Plato’s Poetics notwithstanding—
emerges from attraction of polarities…
ever transforming to bring order
out of chaos.
And out of this dialectic composition…
that exceeds any binary formation—
ever transforming, and being transformed,
is borne the Poetics of Becoming.
Beyond being is Becoming!
Becoming elevates the restless human soul,
to ethereal Olympian realms…
where, even now, Diotima dwells
in heavenly council with the gods.
The Word of a poet.
About this poem
In Plato’s Symposium (circa 440 B.C.E.), Plato declares that priestess Diotima of Mantinea instructed Socrates concerning the nuances of the art of divine love, something that Socrates may have struggled to fully comprehend. Diotima, both a priestess and a philosopher of love, in all its creative dimensions, appears indeed to have been a teacher of Socrates. While scholars continue to debate her authenticity, she was mentioned in contemporary accounts in the work of Plato himself, and cannot therefore be discounted for her influence (overt or covert) on the Socratic method of argumentation and discourse. Diotima’s name in Greek means “honored by Zeus,” and this poem honors Diotima by its very title, “Ask Priestess Diotima.” As we honor Diotima Mantinea, let us equally honor all women who, universally, ennoble us in all fields and spheres of speciality. more »
Written on November 16, 2021
Submitted by karlcfolkes on November 16, 2021
Modified on March 29, 2023
- 1:12 min read
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|Closest metre||Iambic tetrameter|
|Stanza Lengths||42, 1|
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"Ask Priestess Diotima" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 31 May 2023. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/114119/ask-priestess-diotima>.
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