Wednesday, April 12, 2017

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield

April is poetry month.  Something that even this prosaic blogger remembers and likes to blog about every April.

Poetry speaks to the emotional beings that we are.  I did not realize that until I was well into adulthood, as a working stiff in the US.  I went to a local poetry reading.  The poet was a local boy who had made it big on the other coast.  So, there was a middle-aged man reading lines from his poem and it hit me: This is what poetry is about!  Those lines spoke to me, which is what we expect from good poetry.

Since then, I have come to realize that when the right person reads a poem, oh boy, it is as if the mysteries of the universe are being solved.  One word at a time, and one verse at a time.  But, it does not always happen.  A few years ago, I went to listen to a faculty-poet read his poem.  Well ...

The other day, I watched a character in a Spanish movie, Julieta, refer to Ulysses.  In the high school class in which she is the classics teacher, Julieta talks about Ulysses reaching Calypso’s island, exhausted after a shipwreck.  The goddess Calypso offers herself to Ulysses and also promises him immortality.  Think about this: The most beautiful woman ever and immortality.

Ulysses turns down the offer.

And heads to the high seas.  An unknown expanse of adventure.

Ulysses wanted to live a life that he would not regret.  I remembered having read the final stanza of Lord Tennyson's Ulysses.  Here it is for you to read during this poetry month; maybe you can imagine James Earl Jones reading the lines:
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
I wish us all well with the chances that we take, and may we never have to regret the chances we didn't, and don't, take!

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