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To Be or Not To Be – That Is the Question

 

Advice to a Prophet

 

When you come, as you soon must, to the streets of our city,   

Mad-eyed from stating the obvious,

Not proclaiming our fall but begging us

In God’s name to have self-pity,

Spare us all word of the weapons, their force and range,   

The long numbers that rocket the mind;

Our slow, unreckoning hearts will be left behind,   

Unable to fear what is too strange.

Nor shall you scare us with talk of the death of the race.   

How should we dream of this place without us?—

The sun mere fire, the leaves untroubled about us,   

A stone look on the stone’s face?

Speak of the world’s own change. Though we cannot conceive   

Of an undreamt thing, we know to our cost

How the dreamt cloud crumbles, the vines are blackened by frost,   

How the view alters. We could believe,

If you told us so, that the white-tailed deer will slip   

Into perfect shade, grown perfectly shy,

The lark avoid the reaches of our eye,

The jack-pine lose its knuckled grip

On the cold ledge, and every torrent burn

As Xanthus once, its gliding trout

Stunned in a twinkling. What should we be without   

The dolphin’s arc, the dove’s return,

These things in which we have seen ourselves and spoken?   

Ask us, prophet, how we shall call

Our natures forth when that live tongue is all

Dispelled, that glass obscured or broken

In which we have said the rose of our love and the clean   

Horse of our courage, in which beheld

The singing locust of the soul unshelled,

And all we mean or wish to mean.

Ask us, ask us whether with the worldless rose   

Our hearts shall fail us; come demanding   

Whether there shall be lofty or long standing   

When the bronze annals of the oak-tree close.

                                           –    Richard Wilbur

 

Shall All perish?

And shall this happen

Just because

We could not bring ourselves

Even to try

To prevent it?

 

(War Time)

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white,

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

                                                    –   Sara Teasdale

 

Unfortunately – ‘mere self-annihilation’ is not the prospect which confronts us.

What now looks us in the face is Planetary Destruction …

Perhaps down to cockroaches – (for they are very hardy)

Would it be okay with you?

Is it okay with us? – that we may simply continue as we are …

No one taking responsibility …

And we just let everything go down the tube?

Is this something you think you can live with?

How shall we explain ourselves to our grandchildren?

Mmm?

We’re going to need some mighty creative marketing

For this one.

 

[I find, by the way, that as I read again (a few times)

Richard Wilbur’s poem (to the prophet) –

That it makes more and more sense.]

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