Parmenides, the Greek grandpappy of metaphysics, might be my favorite philosopher.
In hindsight, he may have ruined the world in many ways… but that’s only because people exploited what it is that he was trying to say *cough cough canonization of The New Testament*. In truth, we may never know what he was ‘truly’ trying to say—for one, it’s complicated almost beyond belief; second, no fully intact account of his original work On Nature remains. Archeologists and scholars have yet to complete the translation—and they may never. I know I don’t understand All of what he has to say—but I want to.
With that said, if there was ever someone touched by the divine, it was Parmenides. While his work has nothing to do with religion, he saw the world as Neo saw The Matrix—and he moves up, down, in, out, and around every bit of logic and semantics that constitutes existence and non-existence. He is a true genius and often overlooked next to Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle—but what he achieved rivals DaVinci and Einstein.
The following poem is a tribute and summoning. I take the position of Parmenides replying to Wallace Stevens’ poem, The Snow Man—which he wrote as a nod to Parmenides. An understanding of Plato’s Parmenides is most helpful, but not so much of Wallace Stevens.
VERY TRUE by SW Hammond (summoning the spirit of Parmenides)
One is, so therefore this poem is
Form in mind and snow
Things of frost and crusty pines
Only others will never know
Behold the winter’s All
The snow begins to fall, melting before it can
The cold knows hot, in contact separate or not
Alike the wind and full of the same
Others appear, for the One grows near
I see them far away
Half the distance I walk, half the distance I walk
The snow too deep to reach a stride
I shovel some more, shovel some more
Moving down the endless pile
It’s a trick I’m told, growing bitter and cold
Zeno’s smile from ear to ear
We’re all trapped, The One’s circled the gap
My mind stuck in regress hell
Am I becoming or going?
Knowing Is the key my own cell
What’s the matter? They laugh
Are things not real with us down below?
Nothing, I lead, shaking my head
For nothing will be the last thing ever said