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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Quid Pro Quo... that is Life with a Big L

by Alfred Tennyson

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vest the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour'd of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers;
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breath were life. Life piled on life
Were all to little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle-
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me-
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads- you and I are old;
Old age had 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,
'Tis 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 the 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.

Just feel wistful and done with the past. And to think that the past year has seen vicissitudes of time, as they say, and vexations of heart as well as stimulations of mind and to feel that it has been a full year (or a year-ful?) of newer people, newer experiences, newer sorrows... not bad. I have a rich vein of newer emotional curves to draw upon as I embark on a newer road - the road (I Have) not taken, as Frost may say! But what is happiness compared to sorrow. In Happiness We Forget Ourselves, we delight and the world delights with us. In Sorrow We learn. I would rather have sorrow than be happy. An Artist Needs Sorrow As An Alcoholic Needs Liquor. Without the pain and the sorrow and the anger and the fury and the jealousy and the burning envy, art cannot have power. There may be beauty in "emotions recollected in tranquility", as Wordsworth said; but it would end up like the Pre-Raphealite poetry. Read only as academic stuff. Put Baudelaire's Flowers of Evil, Buchner's Danton's Death, Suskind's Perfume, Lord Byron's flamboyant and Shelley's burning poetry and Sarah Kane's plays alongside your Pre-Raphealites and the Wordsworths and Keats and all those soft-puppies of art... you will see there is a greater passion in the former's aching urgency to capture the moment than the latter's measured pickings of painted metaphors and images.

Done with the past... though not content. A Ship Does Not Sail On Yesterday's Winds! I leave those paths I have tread and look forward to explore unchartered territories. I leave behind a Penelope who no more has use for me, who is through with me and has sought to leave in letter and spirit leaving behind mine own Telemachus! Yes, that is official and final too, the last couple of days have been horrid and it has come to a real head. I leave behind ... no am not too sure of that! And today someone asked me "if there was anyway he could have a Masquerade t-shirt". I said the only one I have is mine and he can have it. I would like to leave it with some good soul, for "Alas! what boots it with incessant care/To tend the homely slighted Shepherds trade,/And strictly meditate the thankles Muse,/Were it not better don as others use,/To sport with Amaryllis in the shade,/Or with the tangles of Neæra's hair?" as Milton states in his Lycidas! This is no maudlin post. It surviveth... even as the strong, in the words of Louis L'Amour, shall survive! It being the Spirit. But somethings do need to be spelt. And that is the true trade of Honesty with a capital H. Started with a quote, shall end with a quote... about Honesty by the big B, Billy Joel!

Honesty is such a lonely word.
Everyone is so untrue.
Honesty is hardly ever heard.

1 comment:

Srini said...

Hello Sir KK,

Just wanted to inform that I am just back in action on the blog world. Tied down with work; will check out your ever-edifying articles, I have missed.

I have posted an article on Generative Grammars. I have another in the pipeline "On Language Origins"!!! Cheers