THE PROGNOSTICATOR (THALES OF MILETUS)

FROM “THE PHILOSOPHY WORKS”

Thales of Miletus

(I)                The Prognosticator

 (i)

Wandering over a dry land

naked toes streaked red black,

dry blood of stubbed digits,

feet that ache

the hot-plate earth,

Thales,

his throat parched as the scorched dust,

stumbles on the hollow shell of a scorpion once-no-more and

crumbling when touched

Death is a hollow-flaking thing from this perspective

which is not Thales’ perspective, who,

a genius in his barbarian descent,

deduced, from considering the apparent absence of it,

that all

was water

(ii)

“ABC

is the same as

abc

if the angle of A

is the same as

the angle of a

and the angle of B

is the same as

the angle of b”

he mumble-murmured

whilst navigating the high and wine-coloured seas

perturbed by nauseating nautical perspectives

There was salt on the lashes of his eyes

smarting vision when he rubbed

(iii)

And

with the Lidians and Persians

still preparing their b-bloody ritual

war

Thales of Miletus

calculated the flow of water in the cosmic whirlpool

combining it with

the magnetic qualities of sun and moon

themselves water

and predicted that the morning battle

would become a night fight

(iv)

Thales

squelched a grape

“All is water”

crunched a pip

but

he did not doubt

not for one instant

There can only be one

a priori

“All is water”

he reaffirmed

(v)

There were Seven Wise Men

Thales was one

– mathematical, astronomical –

who knew where and when men would tremble beneath the shrouded sun

which made men tremble

that he knew

where and when

The prophet,

who had used science and calculation to foresee,

could foresee abundance, and so

predicted

the large olive crop that no-one else imagined

Such success made ordinary men tremble

That a wise man could become rich

made men tremble

(vi)

The wise man

staring at the stars

fell into a well,

and a serving-girl,

witty and attractive,

laughed

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