Is your oyster –
So be its pearl –
Grain of sand
09.05.09 – 10.05.09
Copyright by Minh Tan on listed dated of completion.
Notes to this poem…
I wrote this poem at a time in my life when I find myself saying this to myself in formulating a strategy to make some big decisions in my life that may never come into effect pending some answers I am awaiting in life. It’s become a bit of a mantra in my life of late, though it’s not about entitlement like some may interpret it upon first reading. I don’t have a big sense of entitlement. It’s about aspirations and attitudes to achieve it.
The origin of the expression the world is your oyster is from Shakespeare’s play, The Merry Wives of Windsor. In general, it is taken to mean the world is yours for the taking, whatever you want to make of it.
I turned the metaphor around in this poem to say make sure you make it so that you become something special in it. The general origin of pearls is that a grain of sand gets stuck in some place really irritating to the oyster so that it covers it with something (calcium carbonate) to relieve that irritation. Not all grains of sand get this treatment so it’s not automatic that if a grain of sand in an oyster becomes a pearl. The idea is you make sure you become that grain of sand which turns into a pearl, with the attention of the world that is yours lavished upon you.
As for the “irritation” factor, you can interpret that the way you want. I don’t mean it in the poem that you should be a negative irritant, but just a factor that gets the world’s attention.
The O-series of poems are one stanza poems composed before I got onto writing haiku and tanka, and short poetry while in action or traveling by select means like plane or ferry. These poems are 3-9 lines long with at least one rhyming couplet, and not of the short forms just mentioned. For the sake of elegance, I just called the collection One.