On the Margins


If the world were a great book,
Whose name could be seen in its pages?
Would I, would you have the good fortune
To find our names traced
In gold therein?

Would we see there the image
Of who we were and what
We are and what we shall become,
And so unlock Fate's
Design for us?

Or would we see only
Faceless shadows of masked
Masses ebbing, melting together
In a tangled tracery of mingled
Blood and tears?

No, I believe the great,
Even the great names,
Lie on the margins in that fair copy
Each of us keeps of the world,
The solemn tome

We annotate and mark
With thoughts petty and wise,
And when we die, our copy dies,
Perishes with us and our works
And deeds dissolve,

Melted down and mixed
In with the bones of the earth,
And become a part of that strange alloy
For others to mold and shape
At their whim.

I say then that it is even more
Piteous to be unloved,
Or to live with despair in the face of life,
Purposeless, empty of desire,
Sundered from all

Things that move in the world.
To see from eyes without
Is called wisdom, yet all too often
Becomes estrangement and solitude,
A sense of futility.

We are stuck here, you and I,
In a game we had no part
Nor the hope of a part in designing.
Is it so strange to feel
"Tired of living,

But scared of dying"? I
Can understand this feeling,
The feeling of being left behind
By the mad, whirling forces
That shape all things.


As I sit and reflect on larger matters
I think sometimes I would be wiser
To lose myself in life

To forget about legacies and leaving a mark,
To silence all thoughts of how I feel
Or what I want out of life,

And simply live like a fool or a child,
Lost in the wonder of the surface shine
And shape of things. Yet

It seems my mind was not made
For roses and sunsets and walks on the beach
But for sitting alone in thought

Until weariness lulls me into idle daydreams.
For wine and good fellowship and easy chatter
I seem ill-equipped,

Yet for sad longing and love unrequited,
For empty rooms and brooding fancies,
For these I seem well-fashioned:

The life I've lived thus far has brought me
Neither love nor companionship I can truly call
My own, so I'm left with my thoughts.
These I own, my thoughts.


Why can't we get together,
We two lonely hearts?
I'm lonely.
You're lonely.
If we got together
The world would have two less lonely people:

Two less sad hearts,
Beating in desperation
Against the twilight,
Straining to be heard
Over the chatter
Of the strangely lifeless voices that clutter the darkness.

Yet here is a cruel irony:
Each of us is lost
In a separate cell,
Enclosed each
In our own web
Of passing strangers and the walls we hide behind,

And if we did happen to meet,
Perhaps you would deny me
Like the others
Or I you.
Fickle creature!
Image of my soul. Stranger, can I trust you?


How easy it is to despair
Yet hard
To surrender the hopes that lead to that despair.

It is easy to wish in idleness
Yet hard
To summon up the will to make it happen.

So much of what I write
Is vain.
My thoughts lead into stagnant, fetid waters.

Who am I talking to now?
Sometimes it seems even then no-one is listening.

When the world is humming, bustling
The man behind four walls becomes an outcast,

And yet it's easy for me,
Too easy,
To live this way and swallow my estrangement.


It is fortunate that there are tomorrows,
That a stale, decrepit day gives way to night,
That a new day breaks with at least the gleam of a chance
Of new happenings.

It may even be that it is fortunate
That life passes and is overtaken by new life.
(Though I can't say so from experience.)

There's a kind of forgetting that happens with a new day,
Like the forgetting of the seasons
Or the way children forget the lessons of their forefathers
So that they can learn them anew.
Ah, let me be forgetful awhile.
Let this moldering evening drop away and be no more.

I will remember it all again, I know:
The emptiness,
The hollow hole that sometimes gapes in my soul,
The hole others populate with gods and absolute ideals
And faith in traditions and happy endings,
And which some lucky few fill with true love.
Yet let me be like a child now
And simply forget.

George Chadderdon © 2002