One Hour of Life

In our previous post A Tribute To My English Teacher Mrs. F I mentioned that she gave me the book Tears And Laughter by Kahlil Gibran before I headed for the great unknown—the university.  In many ways university was a great vastness of mysteries entangled with sophistries and philosophies; ornate beauties and hidden ugliness.

If we imagine life to be a full hour, and in contrast to cosmic time it is in many ways, there is a quote which comes to mind:

One hour of life, crowded to the full with glorious action, and filled with noble risks, is worth whole years of those mean observances of paltry decorum, in which men steal through existence, like sluggish waters through a marsh, without either honour or observation.”  Sir Walter Scott’s Count Robert of Paris

I don’t know if Kahlil Gibran read this tale by Scott, but in his poem The Playground of Life he recites a similar sentiment about the hour of life:

“This is life. 
Portrayed on the stage for ages; 
Recorded earthly for centuries; 
Lived in strangeness for years; 
Sung as a hymn for days; 
Exalted but for an hour, but the 
Hour is treasured by Eternity as a jewel.”

The full poem is below.  If we journey back to the Elizabethan Age, we find this statement from the Bard of Avalon uttered by King Macbeth to Seyton who just informed him that the Queen had died.

She should have died hereafter; 
There would have been a time for such a word. 
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, 
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day 
To the last syllable of recorded time, 
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools 
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! 
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player 
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage 
And then is heard no more: it is a tale 
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, 
Signifying nothing.”

The Tragedy of Macbeth, Act 5 Scene 5

Macbeth’s view of the hour of life is one covered by treachery and guilt.  Aspirations to greatness have tragic consequences when lives are destroyed to achieve the highest honor at the banquet hour.

After the festivities are ended and one is left alone with their badge of honor life becomes like the discarded food and fading flowers.  The candlelight will eventually die and what is left of one’s legacy is entrusted to those who knew or believed they knew the person.

Like Gibran stated, the pursuit of love and beauty “is worth a full century of glory”.  Glory evanesces into the fog of aeonian night, but beauty and love is forever.

On this planet traversing the cosmos, too many struggle in the marsh waters emptying into the bogs of despair.  This type of existence is a miasma where life is a fight to survive.

Like characters in Rebecca Harding Davis’ short story LIFE IN THE IRON MILLS, life for many on this planet resembles those wretched souls who labored and died in the iron mills—the mills of fear, want, desire, war and hunger.  A cold bowl of soup and an aging crust of bread would be a welcome treat for many lost souls in this millennium of high hopes and dreams.

However, there is another hunger besides the physical—the hunger of the spirit.  When the spirit is not fed regularly with a repast of love and beauty, life becomes a gulag with only one desolate outcome—death.

In the final analysis, love and beauty is all that remain—like a chest of precious emeralds.  Those emeralds, if embraced, are the life experiences on the road of life for someone who truly lived, thriving on a diet of aesthetics, devoted to bringing a cold cup of water to a parched soul trapped in the side bogs of the road.

 

G. D. Williams © 2016

 

POST 687

 

The Playground of Life

One hour devoted to the pursuit of Beauty
And Love is worth a full century of glory
Given by the frightened weak to the strong.

From that hour comes man’s Truth; and
During that century Truth sleeps between
The restless arms of disturbing dreams.

In that hour the soul sees for herself
The Natural Law, and for that century she
Imprisons herself behind the law of man;
And she is shackled with irons of oppression.

That hour was the inspiration of the Songs
Of Solomon, an that century was the blind
Power which destroyed the temple of Baalbek.

That hour was the birth of the Sermon on the
Mount, and that century wrecked the castles of
Palmyra and the Tower of Babylon.

That hour was the Hegira of Mohammed and that
Century forgot Allah, Golgotha, and Sinai.

One hour devoted to mourning and lamenting the
Stolen equality of the weak is nobler than a
Century filled with greed and usurpation.

It is at that hour when the heart is
Purified by flaming sorrow and
Illuminated by the torch of Love.
And in that century, desires for Truth
Are buried in the bosom of the earth.
That hour is the root which must flourish.
That hour of meditation, the hour of
Prayer, and the hour of a new era of good.

And that century is a life of Nero spent
On self-investment taken solely from
Earthly substance.

This is life.
Portrayed on the stage for ages;
Recorded earthly for centuries;
Lived in strangeness for years;
Sung as a hymn for days;
Exalted but for an hour, but the
Hour is treasured by Eternity as a jewel.

 

 

 

 

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