True or False

02 Nov

Real Emeralds are worth more than synthetics

But the only way to tell one from the other

Is to heat them to a stated temperature,

Then tap. When it’s done properly

The real one shatters.

I have no emeralds.

I was told this about them by a woman

Who said someone had told her: True or False,

I have held my own palmful of bright breakage

From a truth too late. I know the principle.


-John Ciardi


Friday’s poem is today instead because for those who care, on Friday, I was non-functioning-vomiting-shivering-boiling hot- human being. I’m better, thanks for asking. In any case, my own response to this poem is ambivalent. I think it’s a beautifully written metaphor. Written in simplistic, innocent voice that tells so much in the end…I’m just not sure I agree with the point he’s making. What do you think?



Posted by on November 2, 2008 in Poems, Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , ,

9 responses to “True or False

  1. Child Ish Behavior

    November 2, 2008 at 7:25 am

    If the only way to tell what is true is by destroying what you believe is there a point in searching for the truth? Perhaps it is better just to live with the false diamonds. That is what he is saying.

    As long as you believe that it is real then it is real. If you believe it is false, and sell it as real, or you fool yourself into believing that it is real, then you have a problem.

    Modern Economic theory teaches us that value is not intrinsic, it is what people believe the value to be that matters.

  2. frumcollegegirl

    November 2, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    sounds like a woman who sold my mom a wig and when asked to prove if they were 100% human hair, she told me my mom to hold a match next to the hair. if it ignites, it’s real.

  3. tooyoungtoteach

    November 2, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    FrmCllgeGrl: LOL!!! Proves the point perfectly

    The question is, generally speaking (not in rare cases like wigs) is destruction necessary for truth to be revealed?

    Of course his if/then pans out in his poem, he wrote it, and set up the criteria. The question is is his “if” valid?

  4. Mikeinmidwood

    November 3, 2008 at 3:53 am

    I learned from this don’t buy emeralds only gold, silver, Ruby, Saphire, or any other sort of expensive material.

  5. EndOfWorld

    November 4, 2008 at 10:04 am

    well, I was hoping to see a new post, so I would be able to post an appropriately pithy/scathing/whatever term you used to describe me comments, which by the way, is subjective, because when I write something, I’m thinking one way, and then someone else reads it and gets all tze-doodulled, even though there was really nothing too tze-doodull deserving in the comment. oh, if this comment didn’t make too much sense, don’t forget that it was written at the latter part of the night, the part that only students who are attempting to fudge their way through a paper that’s due the next day while not actually saying something substantial ever see…um, where was I? right. Where’s the post? I’m full of pithy comments, and no outlet. Shame. Next time I come here, I’ll be too addled by lack of sleep to post something appropriately me.

  6. EndOfWorld

    November 4, 2008 at 10:05 am

    3 am. 3 am. 3 am. man. what a waste of a night.

  7. Child Ish Behavior

    November 6, 2008 at 4:34 am

    My mom just cut open an esrog to make jelly and there was no seeds. She thinks it was grafted now. if only she had been able to cut it open before sukkos.

  8. tooyoungtoteach

    November 6, 2008 at 4:41 am

    My sympathies.

    Whose esrog was it, and if you know now in retrospect, were you (or whomevers esrog it was) was yotzeih arbah minim?

    And had you not known, would there be a problem in the first place…

  9. The Babysitter

    November 6, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    wow, that is truly great, I love that poem, such a great lesson!

    Hope your feeling better.

    What I get from it, is that sometimes it’s not worth trying to learn the truth, that you might break what’s there already.

    Example, there can be 2 friends, and one starts to doubt the other’s sincerity, whether they are a real friend or not, so they do an investigation, and through their finding out if the friend is real, they end up hurting the friend which causes the friendship to break.

    I say if you have something good, and your happy by it, then why doubt it’s truth which will leave you off worse. You may become confident that now the friend is real, but by doing that you have ruined what’s there.

    Seems like this only applies with physical things, not with ideas and learning, and the concept of “real truth”. Although, sometimes parents may hide sad truths from their children, so that they remain innocent. Like why should a little kid have to know about all the pain and suffering that’s going on in the world. Let them enjoy their childhood years carefree to an extent.


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