The Alchemist, a Poem

Updated on November 15, 2018
Jodah profile image

John has been writing poetry since his school days. He was awarded "Poet of the Year 2014" Hubby Awards and has had two poems become songs.

Source

What is Alchemy?

From the dawn of time, man has always strived to discover and invent new things. Alchemists were at the forefront of this quest and strived to create, among other things, the Philosopher's Stone. In reality, they were seeking 'the meaning of life."

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Alchemy as follows:

"a medieval chemical science and speculative philosophy aiming to achieve the transmutation of the base metals into gold, the discovery of a universal cure for disease, and the discovery of a means of indefinitely prolonging life."

The Urban Dictionary describes it this way:

"alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself."

The Alchemist

The Alchemist, the cauldron stirred,

He mixed it all with care.

Pulling vials from off the shelves,

He rubbed his thinning hair.


Ginseng and geranium,

Selenium and zinc,

What other items should he add?

He had to stop and think.


He went out to his garden,

Collected eggs from quail,

Dug up liquorice root and thyme,

Collected willow leaves and snails.

Alchemy
Alchemy | Source

Returning to his home-made lab

He crushed, boiled, and infused,

He mixed in hog and vulture grease,

And the fat of river eels.


There were even secret additives

That only this man knows,

To make this fine concoction

For a purpose not disclosed.


He let it set for near a week,

So the ingredients could meld.

The time had come to test the brew,

The Alchemist's new salve.

Source

Taking a handful of the stuff

He slapped it on his head,

Then covered it in cheesecloth

Before retiring to his bed.


He repeated this routine for weeks,

Even summoned the occult.

He hoped and prayed his mixture worked,

Then checked out the result.


The Alchemist unwrapped his head,

In a looking glass he gazed.

His weary eyes sprung open,

My God! he was amazed.

Source

A head of bushy golden hair

Sprang up to meet his eyes,

Where only baldness gleamed before,

He beamed in smug surprise.


He hadn't turned lead into gold

Or water into wine,

But hair where no hair grew before

To him, was just as fine.

A text on Persian Islamic philosophy and spiritual alchemy by Al-Ghazālī (1058–1111).
A text on Persian Islamic philosophy and spiritual alchemy by Al-Ghazālī (1058–1111). | Source

Off the Shelf

From off my bookshelf, this time comes one of the most popular and loved books of the 20th Century, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

I whole-heartedly recommend this book, and if you haven't had the pleasure of reading it yet - please do it! This book is only 177 pages long so can be easily read in one or two sittings, but despite that, I guarantee it will have an effect on you. It did on me. I have never read a more inspirational and wise tale.

Beneath this novel's compelling story and the shimmering elegance with which it's told lies a bedrock of wisdom about following one's heart.

— Booklist

The Alchemist is the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who travels in search of a worldly treasure. He travels from his home in Spain to Tangiers and across the Egyptian desert to a life-changing encounter with the Alchemist.

Here is a small excerpt from the book:

"My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer," the boy told the alchemist one night as they looked up at the moonless sky.

"Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams."

Rarely do I come across a story with the directness and simplicity of Coelho's 'The Alchemist.' It lifts the reader out of time and focuses through a believably unlikely story of a young dreamer looking for himself. A beautiful story with a pointed message for every reader.

— Joseph Girzone, author of 'Joshua.'
The Alchemist by Paula Coelho
The Alchemist by Paula Coelho | Source

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 John Hansen

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      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        6 days ago from Queensland Australia

        Yes, Chris that would be my choice too...lol. Thanks for reading.

      • cam8510 profile image

        Chris Mills 

        6 days ago from Hartford, CT

        Pot of gold or head of hair. hmmmm. Pot of gold or head of hair. hmmm. Ok, John. I'm ready to place my order. This was fun and entertaining. It's probably just how things were invented back then.

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        2 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Thank you Genna, I appreciate that comment and I think you'd enjoy the book.

      • Genna East profile image

        Genna East 

        2 weeks ago from Massachusetts, USA

        Hi John...

        You've provided the prefect alchemy of poetry, wisdom and humor. I haven't yet read The Alchemist, but based on your recommendations, this seems to be a must-read. Thank you.

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        3 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Hi PS, I am so pleased you adored the poem and intend to read the book. As for your question. I now live about 90 minutes drive from Australia Zoo where the Irwins film their show. I used to live much closer a few years ago (within 30 minutes.)

      • pstraubie48 profile image

        Patricia Scott 

        3 weeks ago from sunny Florida

        Now I will need to read the book.You have me interested. Adore the poem...surely lots of folks would like some of that!! Angels headed your way this evening. Now I have a question do you live near the zoo where the Irwins film their show?

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        3 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Thank you MsDora, yes everyone is happy lol. Much appreciated.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        3 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        A success story for the alchemist and for you the poet. Such an entertaining good read!

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        3 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Same here Mark..I could use that too. Thank you for your generous comment. Much appreciated.

      • Mark Tulin profile image

        Mark Tulin 

        3 weeks ago from Santa Barbara, California

        I think I need an alchemist for my sparse scalp. Then again, probably not. I don’t want to mess up a good thing. When I read your poetry, I think of the alchemist, mixing different concoctions into a very effective blend of verse and rhyme. Thanks, John.

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        3 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Ah, Nell, thanks for reading and enjoying. You just gave me an idea for a slight change. I will give him thick golden hair instead of black. :)

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        3 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Good to see you Brother Elijah. I appreciate your knowledgable comment. The Alchemist book I refer to actually makes reference to the stones mentioned in the Bible, and I am sure you would find it an interesting read in its entirety. Thanks for reading.

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        3 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Wow! Rinita, is that a coincidence or something much more remarkable? There certainly seems to be some sort of connection. Feel free to write about Alchemy yourself, if you feel inspired to do so. It is an intriguing subject.

        I have had a couple of comments from people who didn’t enjoy the book, and others who loved it so I guess it is a matter of taste, or maybe what you are going through in your life at the time...I know I was quite lost and seeking direction.

        Thank you for your kind words as always.

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        3 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Hey MizB, glad this tickled your funny bone :)

        I actually researched some of the medieval ingredients used to treat hair loss and in alchemy and believe it or not vulture grease was one of them (as were most of the others.)

        Thank you for the kind comment, and yes I will try to write more along these lines.

      • MizBejabbers profile image

        Doris James-MizBejabbers 

        3 weeks ago from Beautiful South

        John, I love it, love it, love it. I laughed all the way through. Some of the ideas you came up with (dangling participle intended) especially vulture grease, tickled the daylights out of me. The poem flowed as smoothly as a river of snail spit, but much nicer. Oh, did I mention that I liked it? Let's have some more of that, my friend. Oh, I've always been curious about alchemy. I'll have to seek out the book.

      • profile image

        Nell Rose 

        3 weeks ago

        Well he never got his gold but he got his hair! lol! what a great Alchemy poem! and I hadn't heard of that book, so I will definitely look into it, thanks

      • NatureBoy0 profile image

        Elijah A Alexander Jr 

        3 weeks ago from Washington, DC USA

        Brother John, Thanks for your poetic presentation and suggestion for us to read "The Alchemist", I really enjoyed them both.

        I've read a book on alchemist, and I will read the one you mentioned, but it appeared that the one I read somehow suggested, as metaphors do, that one must mix all things known and unknown together in their minds and that makes the mixer becomes "an unbreakable stone of understanding" you called "the meaning to life". The two stones in the Bible's wilderness story out of which came water for man and animals are symbols of the last two "Christs", Jesus and the one we seek today, with the water being the understanding of most if not all things.

        Again, thanks for your sharing it such refreshing understanding of the subject.

      • Senoritaa profile image

        Rinita Sen 

        3 weeks ago

        There's some sort of connection between us, John. I don't know what it is, maybe we were siblings, or at least first cousins, in past life.. haha. Well, I say this because just a couple of days ago I read a story in my native language about alchemy. It was about 3 modern scientists giving alchemy a shot, and then horrific things happening to them, and I kept thinking this is a great topic to write about, and here you are, with this poem.

        I personally was not a fan of the book 'The Alchemist', but then I read it a while ago, when I was much younger, maybe I wasn't ready, maybe I'll give it another shot. Oh, and as usual, brilliant write, your poem.

      • profile image

        Jk12345 

        3 weeks ago

        He his good too writter

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        3 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Thank you jk12345. I think.

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        3 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Haha Nithya, yep he could make a fortune from his hair restorer. Glad you enjoyed this and the book. Cheers.

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        3 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Hey, Bill. Good to see you. You are just too good at the suspense genre, picking up that I mentioned “hair” for a reason. Glad you enjoyed this though, and I really appreciate you sharing on Facebook. What problem are you having with the new format here?

      • profile image

        Jk12345 

        3 weeks ago

        I was read this im so glad to see this .mostly suspence

      • Vellur profile image

        Nithya Venkat 

        3 weeks ago from Dubai

        Great poem John. Enjoyed reading. The Alchemist has received a pot of gold in the form of a concoction for hair growth. I bet he could rake in the bucks selling it!!

        I have read the Alchemist, it is a great book.

      • Billrrrr profile image

        Bill Russo 

        3 weeks ago from Cape Cod

        A fine narrative poem John that had me from the opening line. The foreshadowing in the first stanza was a nice touch, 'pulling vials from off the shelves, he rubbed his thinning hair."

        I wasn't sure where you were taking the story but I felt certain that you mentioned 'hair' with intent and the device drew me deeper into the work.

        I have to confess that I'm having trouble with the new HubPages format, so I'm glad that you shared this on FB. I'm going to push the Share button and send the poem on to other readers.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        3 weeks ago from UK

        I doubt it, John, as the play was first performed around 1610.

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        4 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        You are too kind Missy. Glad it brought a smile. I can only find time to read short books these days too. This one was perfect. I am sure you'd love it.

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        4 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Thanks for the generous comment about the article and poem, Linda. The book is a delight. I am sure you would enjoy it.

      • Missy Smith profile image

        Missy Smith 

        4 weeks ago from Florida

        Thanks for the book review. I should look into that one, I may find some time to read 177 pages.

        I loved the poem, of course. I smiled all the way through it as I read. As I do more times than not reading your thoughts. Your poetry is always such a joy for me to read. Thank you.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        4 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Thanks for sharing the entertaining poem, John. Your article is attractive and enjoyable. I appreciate the introduction to a book that I would very much like to read.

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        4 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        You got me Sean, I am a true Monty Python fan.. especially The Holy Grail and Life of Brian, but also the TV show. Yes, you may be right...the Philosopher’s Stone could very well be love. So, sending that to you and your family.

      • Sean Dragon profile image

        Ioannis Arvanitis 

        4 weeks ago from Greece, Almyros

        Satirical and wise, my brother, I believe you are a Mody Python's fan, like myself!

        I LOVED it! Ah! By the way, I know what the Philosopher's Stone is! Is Love!

        Love to you and your family!

        Sean

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        4 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Hi Mary, I am glad you enjoyed both my poem and the book by Paulo Coelho. Yes, I think it is almost time for me to reread it as well.

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        4 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

        I have read this book years ago and that started my love for P.Coelho's books. I love your poetry as it expresses so much what the Alchemist is. I think I will read the book again.

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        4 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Thank you for reading this Shauna. You should try to read the book if you have time. It is well worth it.

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        4 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Hi Liz, thanks for reading. I don’t know if the play is based on this book or not.

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        4 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        I am glad you enjoyed this poem Venkat, and that you have the Alchemist in your book collection.

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 

        4 weeks ago from Central Florida

        I have not read The Alchemist, John, although I've certainly heard of it.

        Your poem is wonderful and ties in well with the them of the book.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        4 weeks ago from UK

        I enjoyed your poem. I have a vague memory of reading The Alchemist, a play by Ben Jonson, many years ago, but I am not familiar with the book.

      • Venkatachari M profile image

        Venkatachari M 

        4 weeks ago from Hyderabad, India

        Very beautiful and entertaining poem. I enjoyed it very much. And, you gave an apt title for it.

        And, John, I have already read the book and am having the copy with me in my book collections. It was really a great book worth reading.

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        4 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Thank you for that very interesting comment, manatita. Thanks also for the reference to the Herman Hess stories.

      • manatita44 profile image

        manatita44 

        4 weeks ago from london

        Yes, Coelho is loved my millions! Born with a gold spoon, perhaps. Again his work reminds me of Siddhartha by Herman Hess and The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. Similar tones and philosophy.

        I have included alchemy in some of my poetry. Usually or rather always in the spiritual way. I probably got it from Rumi or Guruji himself. Don't remember.

        Since Al-Ghajali was a very special soul, then they must have been very special. They pop up in Chinese movies from time to time, usually as connoisseurs on swords, which were held in high esteem in certain dynasty's. Inspiring write.

      • annart profile image

        Ann Carr 

        4 weeks ago from SW England

        As I was reading, I wondered if you'd looked up ingredients for that specific cure! Brilliant!

        Ann

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        4 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Thanks Ann. I had a lot of fun with this poem and actually researched ingredients that have been used to try and combat hair loss. I am sure you will enjoy the book.

      • annart profile image

        Ann Carr 

        4 weeks ago from SW England

        Super poem, John! I like the mystery and then the light-heartedness of it. It made me smile.

        Sounds like a great book to read. I'm off to have a look for it.

        Ann

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        4 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Marlene, I am happy this has encouraged you to read the book again. Also, thank you for the kind comment about the poem. I am glad you enjoyed it.

      • MarleneB profile image

        Marlene Bertrand 

        4 weeks ago from USA

        I remember the book being required reading in one of my English classes. I think I will read it again. Thanks to you, I will be reading it with a fresh new approach. By the way, your poem was an absolute joy to read.

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        4 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Hi Bill, well what can I say? Glad you liked my poem better than the book, wow!

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        4 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Thank you Chitrangada. I am glad you liked this poem and would like to think Paulo Coelho would too. But, I doubt he will ever see it.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        I actually read that book. I like your take on it better. :) No surprise there!

      • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

        Chitrangada Sharan 

        4 weeks ago from New Delhi, India

        What a wonderful poem, and so well expressed.

        You have such creative ideas, and you weave your thoughts beautifully.

        I have read The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho and also own a copy of the book.

        I am sure he would love your poem, if he finds it on the Internet.

        Thanks for sharing this excellent poem!

      • ocfireflies profile image

        ocfireflies 

        4 weeks ago from North Carolina

        Dear John,

        I am afraid if you do read, you will note just how rusty I am at producing hubs. I think it will take some time to learn how to navigate the hp changes.

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        4 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Thank you so much, Kim. good to see you back, and it reminds me I have something of yours to read don't I?

      • ocfireflies profile image

        ocfireflies 

        4 weeks ago from North Carolina

        Dear John,

        I know several who would like to have your poetic alchemist’s secret formula. Smiles. I have read “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, and LOVED IT! Thanks for sharing what a stellar hub looks like for one who needs and appreciates your work and magical talent.

        Blessings Always,

        Kim

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        4 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Thank you, Clive. Glad you enjoyed this.

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        4 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Awww...Mr Dierker, thank you. I wish I could cash in those golden words then :) Alchemy, such an interesting subject.

      • clivewilliams profile image

        Clive Williams 

        4 weeks ago from Jamaica

        Has Flourish said. Very entertaining in deed.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        4 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Now Mr. Hansen you made an alchemy here. I know of this concept and studied such things. Your words are mere words. But your labor to put them into a transmutation of love.You change that which is only words into gold.

        Thanks.

      • Jodah profile imageAUTHOR

        John Hansen 

        4 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

        Haha Flourish, I hope he did. I am in the market for some of that. Thanks for reading and the generous comment.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 weeks ago from USA

        What a clever, entertaining poem! You are quite a storyteller. Loved it. I wonder if he packaged the stuff and became wealthy?

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