Life On the Hill

Who are you to write judgment on a stone?
What man or god is mightier than Time?
For rigid rules are often overthrown
While still their makers never cease to mime
Their flat decrees from their myopic throne
To masses who could scarcely give a dime!
     For who atop their lofty hill can know
     Of all that passes in the world below?

So here I am now, sitting in my room,
A realm severed from the world outside.
And from my chair it's easy to presume
To know the truth of all things far and wide,
And yet I know it's folly to assume
An air of such blind faith and stupid pride,
     For my world is a meager one indeed
     Compared to the one where soon I must proceed.

But I know me and I can see myself;
It is a useful talent and a boon,
And for this treasured asset of my wealth
I count myself bequeathed of good fortune.
How comforting it is to know oneself,
And know that those around you aren't immune
     To the daemons haunting every soul
     Which lead us forth to many a common goal.

Survival is the basest of these needs
Which drives each man to selfishness and fear.
And so it is, some fell and wicked deeds
Which as a dark-shod host of shades appear,
Are born not of the gaping mouth of greed,
Nor of contempt that's brandished in a sneer,
     But in the instinct for self-preservation
     Which burns in all, regardless of their station.

The second greatest longing which we share
Is to be accepted and adored,
And each in turn seeks out another's care.
Man or woman, each are drawn toward
The source of this redeeming kindly air
We hold to be the sum of life's reward,
     But many there are who in darkness live,
     Bereft of friends and held estranged from love.

So though I cannot speak for every man
And scarcely venture from my little knoll,
That which I see within myself I can
Project in others and perceive its role,
The longing and the burning hopes which fan
The stirrings gay and gloomy in their souls.
     To know these simple truths is to begin
     To see the world without as well as in.

George Chadderdon © 1993