No great sigh of relief here.
No weight lifted,
Not unburdened or unladen.
Not tonight, or the last,
And not tomorrow;
So when will come
The next rebuttal?
Not against regret or pain,
But the loss of something
Good, gentle, kind,
Loving and loved.
A loss to later gain
Some little opportunity
With meager chance
Of finding the ideal.
Why else would any of us
Subject selves to grief
Time, time, and time?
And, I ask, to what end?
Should I lament and wail
Or weep not at all
If you yourself be witness
Against me and my heart?
You could never tread me down,
Nor would I melt before you
As wax beneath the candle flame.
And yet you have split me in two.
My rebellion against you
In the high places of my mind
Has brought you low,
Even to the stones in the valley.
Now both our idols are smashed,
Revealed for what they were–
The lies we told ourselves, each other,
Laid bare, turned back, returned empty.
Proclaim it not in the streets,
Lest our enemies rejoice;
And when we go into exile,
Tell it not in Gath.
Resolutions in sum:
“Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done
when I come to die.”
But in the details
Is where the money is made by a man (or woman)–
And through work.
“Day in, day out”
Is the only way to approach the goals of a year (or a life)
In order to succeed.
Resolved, we say,
To do this, that, and the other at such a time (and place)
For one year.
Why this way?
Does one date hold significance for the turning around
Of my life’s work?
So then, “resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad’s of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever” from this day ’til the end of all my days.
It knows not what it demands
Nor would it expect this of others–
To walk that line between greatness
On one side, madness on the other.
To give up a life of glib goodness,
Austerity, but also simplicity, certainty–
A half-affected innocence of the heart–
For a chance at what? Rank? Status?
How many succeed in the end–
And this, only of those who try?
Many rise, but how many more fall
When the madness outruns its escort?
The internal voice calls me to this task
Knowingly, attentive to the danger.
Does the risk to self and soul promise us
So great a reward, worthy of the attempt?
‘Throw away the excess; sacrifice all,’
It whispers. ‘Focus singly on this: Rise.
Claw and clamber your way to meaning;
Cast off that which would hinder.’
Unless… unless a balance is struck.
A countervailing force must exist:
A goodness beyond mere morality–
Substantial, whole, yet easy and light.
But the yoke I must carry is not my own,
Wherein lies the central difficulty
For the already wearied and heavy-laden,
Ever trying to redeem our own selves.
I ask not too much of myself:
To be both great and good;
I ask of myself too little:
To be either great or good.
How I wish I could capture the crispness of the air–
As the sun rises over autumn-dressed maple trees
And the little city begins to awake and live again–
And send it to you in an envelope.
In a small town with a lazy, deep-channeled river
That trickles along a stony bottom toward the sea,
The trees are just beginning to shed their garments
For a barer, browner fashion.
The storefronts unhurriedly grind to wakefulness
As the shopkeepers rub the sleep from their eyes,
And as old men trod a well-worn cobblestone street
For their morning exercise.
And despite its archaity, the little city shuffles on,
Each morning as bright and sure as the one today,
With new breath briskly floating on the wintry air:
A promise of daily rebirth.
Greatness confounds Lilliput.
“Who can fathom,” one might say,
But then, it is simpler than that–
Far less grand, less bellicose.
More like a beggar, dumb and lame,
Unable to stretch out our hands
Or to call out to the passers-by
Who might otherwise understand.
And if they could be made to understand,
Would they not take pity on us?
These strangers that see and scorn,
That look down on while looking up to.
Too beholden to their little ends,
Convenience’s-sake has lost its meaning
And attempts to enlighten are lost causes
That would blind all involved.
So forsake and be forsaken is the verdict
Since conformation is not left open to us.
All others are out-sized or foreign in form
And in mind; we are destined recluses yet.
Greatness and preciousness beget
A loneliness, tired and world-weary
From a lack of peers, perchance:
A dearth of like minds and loves.
Forgo the garden and give me the trees.
Give me deep forest and sprawling orchard
On mountainside and in the valleys low
Over the shapèd hedge and garden-row.
Over no stone-laden path I would stroll;
Rather would I climb over rock and root
Shaded from summer sun by branch and leaf,
Free gifts from gracious God for respite brief.
To climb and ramble over hill and vale
Instead of promenading the level ground—
Such exercise our nature will not mar—
Is better a past time for man by far.
The agèd wood speaks wisdom to mankind
Of time past—when roots grew deep under earth.
The Lord these placed under our submission;
Consider, oh man, our first commission.