Ship of Theseus

Ship of Theseus is a dilemma of identity that raises the following question: If all the parts of a ship have been replaced, does it still remain the same ship?


It’s a lore as old as all the fables
of trinkets lost and found.
It’s a tale as new as echo of chimes
of bells just swung around.

A mighty emperor once built
a glorious hill fort to reside,
and created armies and navies alike
to keep by his side.

That display of power was topped by
a vessel, sturdy and impervious;
thus began the life of eventually what
the world called ‘Ship of Theseus’.

Many a battle was fought on board
and many more averted.
This ship became the life of legends
on shores it ever skirted.

Oh! The tales of its won glories
reached home before it made harbor
and lived on for generations to come,
on lands far and farther.

For centuries, its veneration continued
just as time took its toll.
In places that once shone brightly
formed many a tiny hole.

The people took care of it all,
replacing every bit that faltered.
And thus was replaced the mast and spar,
and deck was gradually altered.

The rudders that once guided the course
had withered and needed replacement,
just as the cleat and anchor turned
from whole to mere fragments.

The ship really needed the fixing
or so was the general opinion.
No one really noticed how each fix
sent the original parts to oblivion.

One day, a child wandered about
to play by the ship’s quarters.
She reached and exclaimed, “this isn’t the ship!”
to the people replacing the hawser.

And that’s when the people took notice
with cries, squeals and tremor.
In an effort to save the whole of it,
the ship was lost forever.

 


Creative Commons Licence
© Ship of Theseus by Neha Sharma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

76 thoughts on “Ship of Theseus

  1. No one really noticed how each fix
    sent the original parts to oblivion
    —————

    Poem-ception?

    You wrote this about that ship. But it’s also true for your poem. Your poem was like ship. You changed many words in it. And many lines in it. Re wrote stanzas. And presented us the newest version of your poem. But nobody notices how original poem with previous iterations gone to oblivion.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. This is officially my favorite comment yet, although I have to admit I didn’t think of it this way even once. Thank you finding such an extraordinary narrative in my rather simple poem πŸ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Beautiful poem..and we can have the same analogy with people also..sometimes society or friends or family push a person so much for changes, may be for better or worse, that finally individual looses his originality completely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s what I had been thinking. But what if the heart had to change owing circumstances but the body remained the same, will it still be the same?

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Soundarya! Thanks for the nomination. For some unknown reason, WordPress sent this comment to my spam folder :/

      Let me follow through the requirements of this award by the evening. Thanks again ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a very intriguing poem, I like it very much. It has a certain twist which keeps one entertained and entangled at the same time. I this this is well thought through and come from the heart of the topic. Thanks for posting is, it is really lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Interesting read!

    My take, it’s still the same ship. A ship is no defined by the exterior, but by the places where its been. The people were looking at it from the outside, what could only see with the eyes. They failed to see, the memories where within the adventure and the legacy it left behind; those can never be replaced!

    A wonderful question!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand your viewpoint but the ship still feels lost to me. Maybe that’s the fun outcome of writing on a dilemma πŸ˜€

      Like

  5. Somewhat along the lines of the first poster’s comment, I could see this poem as a metaphor for the arts. A painting can be gradually altered (assuming an opaque media) until none of the original brush strokes are visible. An author can completely rewrite an early draft of a novel. Is it still the “original” work? Interesting philosophical question. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Beautifully written with a very powerful message so well expressed: what has been destroyed in life will never be the same once we try a reconstruction. Thus these two lines give a sudden turn and the key to the poem’s main message:

    “No one really noticed how each fix
    sent the original parts to oblivion.”

    To me the ship can even stand as a metaphor for life’s constant changes: things and people we send to oblivion, shattered human relationships as well, where we might try reconciliation but deep inside we know it will not be the same as before. We wait for our wounds to heal and dry in the sun but we are a landscape of scars.

    Liked by 1 person

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