Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Do Elephants Have Souls?

There is mystery behind that masked gray visage, an ancient life force, delicate and mighty, awesome and enchanted, commanding the silence ordinarily reserved for mountain peaks, great fires, and the sea.
—Peter Matthiessen, The Tree Where Man Was Born

I am not humankind, my grey bulk
and all that makes me me betrays that. 
You say that I have lesser worth,
a soulless entity with mere instinct to survive. 
How do you know that? 
What arrogance you have.

Do you not think I feel hurt feel pain when you beat me?
(You know I do, for why else would you do that?)   
Do you think I have not the ability the capacity
to think, to love, to care, to fear, to grieve?  
Do you think I know not boredom, loneliness and frustration?    
How do you know that? 
What arrogance you have.

What arrogance you have to think this Earth exists merely as your plaything,
where we who are not you have no value. 
How arrogant are you who despoil this Earth,
you with this innate greed this want that dwells deep inside you.  
If your behaviour defines who you are, I would not want to be you.                           
Understand me now,
I am life,
I am sentient,
I am elephant,
My value is so so much more than tusk. 

Anna :o]

Susan at Poets United  has us writing our words of Psche/Soul and above is my offering.  Whilst searching for ideas on the innermost workings of the soul, I came across this article "Do Elephants Have Souls?" in The New Atlantis.  It is a captivating and oft moving read and I would strongly urge you to read it as it will open your mind.  You will need time though as it is a very long article, and at the time of writing, I am less than a third through.  As said, it is a very worthy read, so please do.

Image:  Courtesy of  Wikimedia Commons

Author:  Confidential


Sumana Roy said...

The last line hits hard making the humans much more lowly than the majestic elephants. Repetition of the arrogance line defines humans in their true color. So sad.

Susan said...

I think the minute our species was put down on earth it ran around saying Mine, Mine, Mine! Greed being the first motion after the urge to breathe. I feel it in me, with the covers on my bed, with the ability in the USA to build walls and install locks with keys. I groan under the weight of it and commune with your elephant.

annell said...

Your write is so very touching...

Sanaa Rizvi said...

My goodness that last line packs a punch! Powerfully written, Anna.

Sherry Marr said...

I love that you wrote of elephants as sentient beings - which they are. They grieve deaths of their kin, stand over the bones a long time, even carrying some of them away. They love, they feel joy and pain, they cry, they talk among themselves. They are very wise. I loved every line of this poem. Elephants mean a great deal to me, and I grieve for the lives so many of them endure at the hands of humankind.

Jae Rose said...

What a wonderful proposition - I do believe they do and you speak it so well

Henry Mitchell said...

I don't believe we have souls. I believe our souls have us, and yes, I believe souls have elephants, too.

Myrna R. said...

Your poem touched me deeply. I am such a lover of animals and elephants are so special. I honor their majesty. Thank you for this and for your recommendation of the article. I'll make sure to read tomorrow.

Rob Jackson said...

Of course they do have souls, and you've conveyed that well.

Old Egg said...

We have done so much damage to the Earth and its inhabitants, I wonder whether we will ever come to our senses. Sadly I think not unless us poets and activists can make a difference.

kaykuala said...

My value is so so much more than tusk.

How unfair and cruel man had been. If only man can hear the laments!


Kim Russell said...

How heavy is the soul of an elephant? Heavy enough to crush my heart. Thank you, Anna.

Old Egg said...

Elephants are animals that should be preserved at all costs. Few creatures need to be eliminated from earth except the one that does most damage with is of course Mankind. A few could be preserved to remind all other creatures how wanton and dangerous they are.

Sara McNulty said...

Oh Anna, this is so heartfelt, with a beat of anger drumming underneath. We can truly be arrogant, we humans.

Cressida de Nova said...

The elephant in the room has a soul:)

Khaya Ronkainen said...

Passionate and touching write, Anna.

Susan Anderson said...

This is lovely throughout, and I especially favor the line: "where we who are not you have no value."

Bekkie Sanchez said...

I am so upset about how we treat animals and then I think about how we treat each other and it all makes me sad. Not fair because your poem was beautiful. Elephants, lions, polar bears, the list grows and it's wrong.

Martin said...

As we are animals with special abilities we have to recognise the soul in anymal [sorry for this wordplay ;-) ].

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

I'm so glad to hear the voice of the elephant!

Nimi Arora said...

A very different take on the prompt. And a very good one too. We usually think about souls in connection to humans only. Thanks.