The driving force of
personality style is envy, which shows up in dissatisfaction with the ordinary, the
mundane. The grass always seems greener somewhere else. Enneagram
Fours can be awesomely innovative. This is why I've chosen Carolyn Creedon's
Pub Poem to reflect
their brilliant focus on difference:
If I hold my breath for a million years, little
waiting my tables, fighting the tide, swimming to hope
and still I can't open you up, love
I'll marry the fat red tomato
I got from an infatuated farmer who waits pleasantly
with knife and fork, to eat me...
Creedon grips us immediately with this
fantastic imagery. The love she wants is an oyster that is difficult to open. And
will she marry the infatuated farmer instead? No, she'll marry the fat red tomato he
gave her! But whatever she loves will slip away, and she will "barely"
I'll marry the teasing moon whose bright vowels
dance on the water
like the Yorktown Slut, promising everything
sighing, before she slips away...
I'll marry each barnacle I scrub
bare, barely staying afloat...
The "barnacles" Creedon scrubs are a
crust on the boat of the Four's special self. Only a bent mirror can
reproduce that complex worldview: "I am both unique and flawed":
I'll marry the bent mirror in the back
where I pin up my marmalade hair...
Her lover knows her downfall:
I'll marry my beautiful brown teacher whose
which say angst is my downfall, I read on the sneak
on a Budweiser box amongst the dead clams and unconsummated lemons
in the back of the Pub, I'll marry my downfall.
She will marry her angst!
Fours are more in touch with their feelings than other styles,
to a fault. They can easily focus on their defects and sink into moodiness.
conversation is ripe with sad stories (and fat red tomatoes). Fours often feel on the
outside looking in. This gives them their unique perspective but also deepens their anguish
of feeling alone, even abandoned. Jennifer Merri Parker writes in
Four to One, "I am like the ever almost
unrequited lover, not / unlike a loitering angel pacing, poised to trouble
water..." She wants to be joined in her angst:
...I must finally plumb the fathoms of your
feelings and anoint
your clean, still-water surface with my muddy-fingered mess
and smear your eyes with miracles of sentimental grime
till you confess I wasn't in the maelstrom by myself,
but you were there and felt it all the time.
Long one of my favorite poets, e.e. cummings
was fanciful in both imagery and the way his poems were arranged on the page. His romantic
poems capture the way in which Fours will keep their wounds unhealed by memories of lost
love. In Sonnets--Unrealities. III. he
relishes the strangeness of his love, of :
...moments when the glassy darkness holds
the genuine apparition of your smile
(it was through tears always) and silence moulds
such strangeness as was mine a little while.
In these moments when he relives that
fascination, he also opens the reader's eyes to:
one pierced moment whiter than the rest
Notice, though, how his pierced moment is a
dagger that sustains unhappiness in the present:
–turning from the
tremendous lie of sleep
i watch the roses of the day grow deep.
It's no surprise that cummings' roses grow
deep. Feeling more deeply than anyone else haunts Fours. Countering
their special depths, they also envy the apparent happiness of others. In their
mirror, this shows up as dissatisfaction with the ordinary. Thus, the grass surrounding
Fours becomes a cage, as in Mary Karr's poem,
The Worm-Farmer's Lament:
...Once you reach the final point
of all those roads cut by granite-faced
ancestors and even your own
forgettable efforts, then the spirit
is so stalled by arrival
that the long grasses become a cage,
the long fields blank.
...you suddenly long to shove your arm
down the disposal or rest your head
in the trash compactor or just climb in your not-quite-paid for wagon
to breathe clouds till you can stop
breathing, stop sitting there and start
worm-farming, that thankless trade
no one wrote back about,
the quiet work for which you were born.
Yes, Fours may have suicidal thoughts, torn
between their unique vision and dissatisfaction with the worm-farm in which
they must make their way. Van Gogh's life and paintings are the archetypal example. Dorothy Parker, in
Résumé, attacks this
Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.
This is what most Fours decide: "I might
as well live." At their best, they learn to see the beauty in each moment as it
evolves. Jane Kenyon discloses the nature of her path when she discovers a stone in
"a little space between the south / side of a boulder / and the snow that fills the
woods around it" (Depression in Winter):
I sank with every step up to my knees,
throwing myself forward with a violence
of effort, greedy for unhappiness--
until by accident I found the stone,
with its secret porch of heat and light,
where something small could luxuriate, then
turned back down my path, chastened and calm.
From their surreal
vantage point, Fours enact their longing for a better world by
attracting and healing those who feel broken. True shepherds,
they learn from their own "wild child," as Maxine Kumin does in
Nurture, finding the "fallen
fledgling," the "bummer lamb," and drawing "the abused, the
starvelings" into an empathic embrace:
...And had there been a wild child...
a wild child to love, it is safe to assume,
given my fireside inked with paw prints,
there would have been room.
Think of the language we two, same and
might have constructed from sign,
scratch, grimace, grunt, vowel:
Laughter our first noun, and our long verb,
Other Poems by Published Poets
that Illustrate this Personality Style
The Exaggeration of Despair
first communion (Carolyn Creedon)
Mending Wall (Robert Frost)
Ode to Airheads, Hairdos, Trains
to and from Paris (Barbara Hamby)
Showing My Father through Freedom (Galway Kinnell)
The Wild Common (D.H. Lawrence)
Of Love and Other Disasters (Philip
The Book (Linda Pastan)
Stepping Backward (Adrienne Rich)
Presentiment (Rainer Maria Rilke)
Afterwards (Susan Fromberg Schaeffer)
How Do You Walk? (Karl Shapiro)
Fern Hill (Dylan Thomas)