Forrest Fenn Poem Line: If You’ve Been Wise and Found the Blaze
The line in Forrest Fenn’s poem of ‘If you’ve been wise and found the blaze’ has I am sure all of us wondering what Forrest means by being wise and what type of blaze. I know many have suggested the blaze is a mark, possibly etched on a rock or tree, indicating the location of the treasure chest. I am not so convinced of this.
There are a few reasons why. One is in Six Questions with Forrest Fenn; Forrest said nothing about finding the treasure would be accidental. If there was a blaze marking the exact spot of the treasure, and someone saw it by chance (no matter how rare of a chance it might be), I feel they could ‘accidentally’ find the treasure. We are told this will not happen.
Another reason is Forrest has said to read his memoir, read his poem, and then read his book again with an eye for subtle clues to help understand the poem. Doing this, I found page 61 of The Thrill of the Chase a bit interesting in helping with possibly knowing the wisdom of Mr. Fenn and his blaze used in the poem. This page is included in the chapter entitled, Looking for Lewis and Clark.
The chapter shares how his friend Donnie and he had gotten lost in the wilderness and how Forrest thought they could find their way out. In order to discover ‘where’ out was, Forrest writes the following, “So I applied some mountain man wisdom to the situation. The sun comes up in the east and we thought out was south so that made it easy…..”
This makes me question, should we apply some ‘mountain man wisdom’, in order to find ‘where’ the chest is, like Forrest found ‘where’ out was when he was lost. Is this how we are wise? Which applied to Fenn’s poem line, the blaze would then be the sun.
The complete stanza of the poem is as follows:
If you’ve been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease,
But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.
My thoughts are that the poem acts like someone giving you directions. In order to follow them, a person must understand what each line means. Like mentioned in the post about Poe’s story of The Gold Bug, I think it is possible that some clues will need to be discovered and followed on site. This doesn’t mean one doesn’t move confidently or know precisely what he is doing. One would have analyzed the poem for meaning, understood it, and will move accordingly.
It is exactly like following a map. You know your starting point, understand the directions to get you to the final destination, but, since you have never been to this place before, you will need to use references in the directions (while on site) to get you where you want to go. The end of the journey cannot be known unless the quest is taken. The map locations may not all be found on google.
In the above instance (and this is not for certain, but I share it as a possibility), IF the poem line of ‘if you’ve been wise and found the blaze’ implies using some ‘mountain man wisdom’ and ‘finding east’ (where the sun rises), then, ‘Look quickly down, your quest to cease’ could suggest to look South.
The quest is ‘to’ cease, but is not quite over yet at this point. The following poem line of; ‘But tarry scant with marvel gaze’ could support this thought with its inclusion of ‘marvel gaze’. Why do we have to ‘tarry scant with marvel gaze’? Is it because we have to ‘gaze south’ and notice then where the chest is hidden. Do we have to keep that line of sight/marvel gaze in order to discover the location of the chest and so better ‘tarry scant’?
What has me wondering even more about the line ‘if you’ve been wise’ is the past tense of being wise; like we needed to be wise before all this? To back up some, and think of some possibilities, I really like ‘The end is ever drawing nigh’ to be where we were wise once before. This poem line appears in the third stanza and is as follows:
From there it’s no place for the meek,
The end is ever drawing nigh;
There’ll be no paddle up your creek,
Just heavy loads and water high.
I think these could be powerful directions. Consider ‘the end’ in Fenn’s poem as the blaze of the sunset every day. The line, ‘The end (sunset) is ever drawing nigh(left) could be directing us to have ‘where the sun sets’ on our left. If so, then we could be told to walk North/Up beside a possible creek.
This flows with the belief that ‘from there it’s no place for the meek’ could imply ‘crossing a stream’. In Mt5:5 it is stated that the meek will inherit the land. ‘From there it’s no place for the meek’ seems to suggest we could have to travel through some water, since it’s not a place for the meek (who inherit the land).
So following this scenario, and the above interpretations, a person would ‘Put in below the home of Brown’, cross a stream, head north along a creek (there’ll be no paddle UP (supporting north) your creek), so the sunset is on the left (the end is ever drawing nigh) and there will be ‘just heavy loads and water high’ (description of the place).
If you’ve been wise and found the blaze (if you know how the sun travels, because you have already used it), Look quickly down (south)…and so on.
If you think about how you give someone directions, it’s a point by point walk through. It’s start here, and do this, this, and this, and see this, this and this. I believe where one starts is known before you ever leave your house…..and you will simply do what is said. From the above example, it is easy to see how Forrest feels the poem is all that is needed. Plus, it is easy to know how Forrest would feel the treasure could be found in hundreds of years to come by following the poem, because the directions to follow will always be accurate, if understood completely.
I find the T.S. Eliot’s quote that Forrest used relatable here. The quote was:
We shall not cease from our exploration
And at the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
The meaning of the line; “And at the end of all our exploring”, seems like ‘the end’, or the sunset of our lives and ‘The end is ever drawing nigh’. Forrest has mentioned many times he created this hunt for all of us to experience the Thrill of the Chase. It seems like a belief in the need to ‘quest’ for something in order to ‘know the place for the first time’. Something similar to the Francis Bacon (1561-1626) quote of ‘Wonder is the seed of knowledge’.
Why is it he must go and leave his trove for all to seek? Is it because he knows the immense value of the quest and he wants us to learn it too?
Best of luck to all!
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