Friday, February 20, 2009

BG III: A message from Carl Sandburg

I have had my Father on my mind quite a lot in the last day or so. I was fifteen when we lost him (see the post below). I often wonder what his words to me would have been at various points in my life: Driver's license, graduation, job, marriage, birth of children. I have seen these events with him in my dreams from time to time. My Mother is responsible for getting me hooked on Carl Sandburg and if I had my choice, I think my Father would have said something along these lines:


A father sees a son nearing manhood.
What shall he tell that son?
“Life is hard; be steel; be a rock.”
And this might stand for him for the storms
and serve him for humdrum and monotony
and guide him amid sudden betrayals
and tighten him for slack moments.
“Life is a soft loam; be gentle; go easy.”
And this too might serve him.
Brutes have been gentled where lashes failed.
The growth of a frail flower in a path up
has sometimes shattered and split rock.
A tough will counts. So does desire.
Without rich wanting nothing arrives.
Tell him too much money has killed men
and left them dead years before burial:
the quest of lucre beyond a few easy needs
has twisted good enough men
sometimes into dry thwarted worms.
Tell him time as a stuff can be wasted.
Tell him to be a fool every so often
and to have no shame over having been a fool
yet learning something out of every folly
hoping never to repeat any of the cheap follies
thus arriving at intimate understanding
of a world numbering many fools.
Tell him to be alone often and get at himself
and above all tell him no lies about himself
whatever the white lies and protective fronts
he may use amongst other people.
Tell him solitude is creative if he is strong
and the final decisions are made in silent rooms.
Tell him to be different from other people
if it comes natural and easy being different.
Let him have lazy days seeking his deeper motives.
Let him seek deep for where he is a born natural.
Then he may understand Shakespeare
and the Wright brothers, Pasteur, Pavlov,
Michael Faraday and free imaginations
bringing changes into a world resenting change.
He will be lonely enough
to have time for the work
he knows as his own.

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