The Struggle to See What’s Between Humility and Arrogance

Arrogance in humility and Humility in arrogance by Maria L. Berg 2022

Contradictory Abstract Nouns (Photography Challenge)

Today I’m looking at finding the arrogance in humility and the humility in arrogance. After exploring definitions and a lot of journal writing, I kept thinking about birds (raptors), feathers, and Robin Hood.

One would have to arrogant to steal from the rich, and perhaps humble to live in the woods with his merry band and give to the poor. But wouldn’t that humility have led to anonymity? Instead he let his name be known, and enjoyed the fame from his good deeds which was arrogant, and he even beguiled Maid Marion which was sheer arrogance. The other arrogance humbled that I thought about was the hummingbird feathers I received from a friend that I’ve been using in some of my filters. The arrogant, flashy hummingbird, hovering, being snatched from the air by a cat, its shiny feathers left on a doorstep. So I decided to try two feather-related filters: a feather in a cap, and feathers in a cat.

Humility in arrogance and Arrogance in humility by Maria L. Berg 2022

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Today’s challenge is to write a struggle poem. Today’s exercise I chose from The Art of Voice by Tony Hoagland is Exercise 3 from Chapter IV “The Warmth of Worldliness” and models “Let’s meet somewhere outside time and space,” by Diane Seuss whose new book frank:sonnets won the 2022 Pulitzer. This exercise is about “developing my image-making strengths,” so I’ll be generating as many word-images of the struggle of humility and arrogance as I can.

“Let’s meet somewhere outside time and space,” made me think of my favorite virtual place the Liszt Academy. I hadn’t visited in a while. I love this place so much. Wandering the rooms and halls and looking at the details never gets old. And it’s the perfect place to explore the struggle of humility in arrogance and arrogance in humility.

The link to the Liszt Academy is now in my favorites bar right after 4theWords, so no matter where I am in the internet, I only have to move my cursor and click on it, and I’ll be whisked away to my favorite place. Why haven’t I done this before? Oh, maybe because I won’t get anything done because I’m roaming around the Liszt Academy. Guess we’ll see, won’t we?

“Truly great men are those who combine contrary qualities within themselves,”
Liszt once wrote. (the Christian Science Monitor)

I’ll meet you in the struggle of humility and arrogance
~after Diane Seuss

between the four identical muses, two on either side
where the green man, or Pan, in wide-mouthed surprise
has become a fountain

Between two large breasted torsos under Medusa and their twins under Poseidon
where the masses watch from above, viewing the performance and the audience’s
hairlines, knees, and hands

Between bench and keys , strings, pegs, and mallets
where all possibilities lie in wait

Between theme and variation
where centuries of hearts swell

Between two swans under a ceiling of delicate gold leaves
where a lyre sings its strings through a woman’s disembodied head

Between the two red velvet curtains in the private balcony box
where the privileged have the best view of the player’s hands, or the back of her neck

Between the Art Deco glass lyres and the ones across the hall
where the music reverberates and fills the imagination

I make my way with violent effort back through the doors
to the lobby, but there is so much more to explore

I strive to return to the place I dust and vacuum
to the space between the grass and the street
between the rain and the freeze
where  humility keeps me

but I am pulled along the corridors
between the classrooms where more stages
more pianos, more Art Deco await my every turn
the pleasure of these empty spaces where I imagine
my virtuoso arrogance, percussive fingers flying

Between the splendor, and the opulence
where I now look into the orchestra pit
under the olive green velvet curtains in the theater

Is the struggle an act of coming back to humility, to this reality
when I can be in this virtual world of arrogance and affluence,
pretending it is mine.

dVerse Poets Pub

Today was Open Link Night Live, and as usual it was over before I looked up from my work. Lillian mentioned it might happen on a different day or time, so maybe someday. Luckily, I can still link up and share my poem with that great global community of poets.


Yesterday was the first day I felt like I was stalling out. I wasn’t really. I still wrote over 2,000 words, but I could tell that I wasn’t sure how things were going to fit together. So I did as I had planned, and started filling in the Blueprint from Writing & Selling Your Mystery Novel by Hallie Ephron. I got about half-way through it before I was done for the day, but it helped me get my ideas in order. While I was in the shower before bed, the climactic scene played out in my head, making some of the decisions I was still waffling on, or at least showing me one possibility.

It’s never too late to work on your outline, your novel blueprint. This weekend, I’ll put all my 4theWords files into a Scrivener file and look at all the clues I’ve set up and connections I’ve made so far, and make sure I continue to develop them to the climax and tie them up at the end.

Today’s scene is mostly in my Protagonist’s head as she scours over the evidence in a cold case trying to find new clues. So as a warm-up, I’m going to do the exercise from The Compass of Character by David Corbett. That I didn’t get to the other day. In the first section, “The Logic of Longing,” he presents a series of questions to pose to your Protagonist and Antagonist to get to their: Lack, Yearning, Resistance (Weakness, Flaw), and Desire.

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