Deliberate Discovery – a “Sonnet”

Uncertainty’s the muse of all that’s new,
And ignorance the space in which she plays;
A year’s enough to prove a vision true,
But we could prove it false in only days.
We dream, and chase our dream, and never fear
To fail, and fail. Up, up! And on again,
But ask us to pursue another’s goals
And failure makes us mice where we were men.
Ah, best laid plans! Where were you at the end
Who chained us and constrained us from the start?
We knew you made a fickle, fragile friend;
You tricked us when you claimed you had a heart!
We thought less travelled roads would see us winning
In places other fools had feared to stray –
If only we had known from the beginning
The ignorance we found along the way.
And yet, a list of dangers and disasters
Filled out, and scanned, and added to some more
Would still have left out some of what we mastered –
We didn’t know we didn’t know before.

We planned our way with maps we’d made already
Assuming the terrain would be the same,
Expecting well-paved roads to keep us steady
And any local creatures to be tame.
We loaded up our caravans and wagons
With good advice, best practices and tools
But didn’t spot the legend – “Here be dragons!”
So we got burnt, again. They say that fools
Rush in, and yet we count ourselves as wise,
We praise each other’s skill and raise a glass
To intellect – ignoring the demise
Of expeditions just as skilled as ours.
When they return, worn out, their pride in shreds,
We laugh and say, “A death march! You expect
Such things to fail.” And in our clever heads
It’s obvious – at least in retrospect.
The dragons of our ignorance will slay us
If we don’t slay them first. We could be brave
And work for kings who don’t refuse to pay us
When we’re delayed because we found their cave.

They say that matter cannot be created,
A fundamental principle and law,
While dragons keep emerging, unabated;
As many as you slay, there’s still one more.
Our ignorance is limitless – be grateful,
Or else we’d find we’ve nothing left to learn;
To be surprised by dragons may be fateful,
But truth be told, it’s best laid plans that burn.
We could seek out the dragons in their dungeons
And tread there softly, ready to retreat;
We could seek other roads, postponing large ones,
And only fight the ones we might defeat.
The world could be a world of dragon slayers
And stand as men and women, not as mice;
The joy that comes from learning more should sway us;
The fiercest dragons won’t surprise us twice.
Discover tiny dragons, be they few,
And all the mightiest, with equal praise –
Uncertainty’s our muse of all that’s new,
And ignorance the space in which she plays.

This entry was posted in bdd, deliberate discovery, life, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Deliberate Discovery – a “Sonnet”

  1. This is the kind of thing that makes me love and hate you simultaneously. Jealousy is an ugly thing, particularly in me. Lovely words, and it makes me want to try as well.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this!

    I’ve left some white space so that the comment I feel compelled to leave takes as little away from the compliment as possible; this is not a sonnet.

    • liz says:

      Thanks, Ciarán! I’ve left the title but put it in quotes to reflect that it isn’t really, but I thought it was at the time. And again, I learn something new 🙂

  3. hi liz, came across on twitter. FYI: we are having a haiku contest this summer and are looking for haikus that revolve in some way around project management themes. winner gets a free ipad. you seem uniquely qualified. you can follow me at, or info on contest is there.

  4. Mark Knell says:

    Iambic pentameter!
    Haiku chokes on it.

  5. I’d like to translate (i.e. re-narrate and re-rhyme) this in(to) my native tongue. How about this:

    Unsicherheit ist Muse alles Neuen,
    und Unwissen der Raum, in dem sie spielt;
    Ein ganzes Jahr, eine Vision als wahr zu weisen,
    doch reichen Tage, bis sie nicht mehr gilt.

    Träumen und dem Traum nachjagen,
    wir fallen, stehen auf und wollen weiter gehn,
    doch bitt’ uns, eines andern Ziele zu verfolgen –
    Du wirst aus Riesen Zwerge werden sehn!

    What do you think?
    … does this make sense?
    … should I continue to try?


  6. liz says:

    Matthias, please feel free. My German isn’t good enough to tell whether the poetry still works, but everything on this blog is licensed under Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution-Sharealike – so as long as you credit me, and share your work too, you can do anything you like.

    You may find some of the references don’t work in German. For instance, “The best laid plans of mice and men” is a reference to Burns, and also to Chris Matts’ “Real Options at Agile 2009” since he used it there too. “Fools fear to stray” is a twist on “Angels rush in where fools fear to tread”. If you want to replace idioms like this with ones which make more sense in German, rather than just translating literally, that would make me happy. Others you might want to look at are “Here be dragons” and “matter cannot be created (or destroyed)”.

  7. Pingback: Lean Procrastination Class | Lean Procrastination

  8. Pingback: How can I determine the proper stressing of words? - English Vision

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