Reflections/poem biography for The Philosopher’s Magnum Opus
Magnum opus smaller
“Strangely, no real effort is required,
only time, and the sea’s tidal wisdom.”

Alchemy is a mysterious, ancient philosophical and protoscientific tradition to draw upon. It was also the prompt for this poem, written specifically for the art and poetry anthology Drifting Down the Lane.

In alchemy, the magnum opus is a term for the transformational process of changing raw materials into the philosopher’s stone or the efforts to discover this stone. The philosopher’s stone itself is a legendary alchemical substance capable of turning base metals into gold.

Translated as ‘the great work’, magnum opus has also been applied metaphorically to artists’ greatest achievements. The philosopher’s stone too has many other metaphorical meanings and values, including symbolising perfection and enlightenment.

But perhaps true pearls of wisdom don’t require so much effort. Maybe awareness of our effects on others and using words with care is the real philosopher’s stone.

Electric Questions - lit version smallerDiscussion Point

How well do the conversational snippets fit into this poem? Do you think this is helped or made harder by the poem’s rhythm and couplet structure?

Inspiration/Writing Prompt

Where might you/a fictional character find a modern-day philosopher’s stone? What would you/they use it to transform and why? What unexpected effects might this have?

plentyfish cover (1)At poetry readings, I often enjoy hearing about the background to a particular poem. ‘Wednesday Reflections/Sometimes I smile’ is my attempt to share the inspiration, frustrations, pain, philosophies and thoughts that lie behind my poetry collection ‘plenty-fish’. Each Wednesday, this blog will contain one of these ‘poem biographies’, as well as points for potential reader discussion and also writers’ prompts. My collection ‘plenty-fish’ may be bought from Nine Arches Press, here, or my website, here. More Wednesday Reflections on other poems in the collection can also be found here.