A Place For Sorrow?

What man is a man, who isn't at war?
Who hasn't known some degree of poverty?
The poverty which denies complacence
And screams for "More!"
Like some rebellious Oliver Twist not content with the world's gruel.
What great man has no weaknesses
For which he must learn to compensate,
Like that blind man who learns to distinguish his friends
By their footfalls alone?

What gifted man is not in some way cursed?
Is it really possible to be happy
Without the shelter of delusion?
We who fear death and yet must die,
And must see others perish;
We who fear sickness and yet must slowly wither;
We who would grasp the world's wisdom,
But must grasp with narrow minds
Whose reason's breadth flowers but a year
In an endless cycle of organic seasons.
Is it not wisdom to concede mortality,
Though ever we would wish better for ourselves?

Perhaps this is the reason
Art is so obsessed with pain?

And yet...
There is no joy in this wealth,
No great love in this fatal truth.
There is only inurement,
A setting of operative limits,
Which perhaps may yet forestall
A more savage disillusionment.

So, why do we care to live?
In theory we must all be lost irrevocably in time,
And the greater part of what we treasure will pass with us.
It can only be that kindly veil with which Nature endows us,
That sweet illusion of Self,
That instinctive thirst for a tangible existence,
A prejudice of Life over Truth.
O merciful prejudice!

Perhaps this is why some choose ignorance,
To escape the insanity of this black conundrum,
To avoid the paralysis of despair
Which must surely take the unwary.

I too am for the illusion of Life,
And I have long accepted the terms of my lease.
(Though I may yet feel them more acutely.)
It was not a contract I signed willingly,
But it nonetheless it contains some fair measure of possibilities,
And perhaps the illusion is everything.

But if the illusion is indeed everything...
What purpose does sorrow serve?
It is Self-immolation,
The highest sabotage of the spirit,
A lunatic smashing the furniture of his psyche.
So, I grow tired of breaking things,
Razing dreams with demonic truths.
It is a futile pastime for a free man,
Therefore I pause
To re-erect my plastic Jesus of Purpose,
And proceed to get on with things at large—
Perhaps the illusion IS everything.

George Chadderdon © 1994