Friday, June 26, 2009

Squandered Splendid Years

thank you to Doctissimo.ca for this image

Yesterday, as I have not tired of telling you, was my 52nd birthday. I had a lovely time. Not having the energy to organize a party this year, I instead had breakfast with sister Saya and nephew Harper, then hung out with them for the day. Harper was leaving for his first solo tour of Canada, so half way through the day we shifted from celebrating my birthday to celebrating his launching into a new phase of life. It was a sweet transition.

Reading The Mentor Book of Irish Poetry this morning I uncovered these words of Padraic Pearse:

I have squandered the splendid years:
Lord, if I had the years I would squander them over again,
Aye, fling them from me!
For this I have had in my heart, that a man shall scatter, not hoard,
Shall do the deed of to-day, nor take thought of to-morrow's teen,
Shall not bargain or huxter with God...

Brave, humble, and jubilant words for a man about to be executed for his commitment to the cause of Irish independence. (I'll put the entire poem in the comments section for those who are interested. Or you can go to http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/Poetry/PadraicPearse.html for more of his poetry.)

But for me, right now, what the words say is this:

There is no cause for regret. What is, is. There is exultation in living as we have lived, however critical we may be of our choices. It is a triumph to be alive, whatever the pain.

I had thoughts of myself, yesterday, as a person once folded into a skinny skinpacket and steeped in my mother's watery nature, bound by her muscles and bounded by her bones. It is a strange thing to think of, that I was me and yet I had never breathed, had never looked around me, had no worry about whether I was too stiff to bend over and get back to standing again. A fleshly being of infinite possibilities, before the first word of the story was set down on the page, and the plot began to be limited, step by step, as it must in order to proceed.

I like that feeling. That remembering that once I was as I was then, and that now I am as I am now, and that a long and rambling line connects me from there to here. Cool. Cool to be alive.

Happy birthdays, every one.

1 comment:

C. June (Casey) Wolf said...

The Fool
by Padraic Pearse

Since the wise men have not spoken, I speak that am only a fool;
A fool that hath loved his folly,
Yea, more than the wise men their books or their counting houses or their quiet homes,
Or their fame in men's mouths;
A fool that in all his days hath done never a prudent thing,
Never hath counted the cost, nor recked if another reaped
The fruit of his mighty sowing, content to scatter the seed;
A fool that is unrepentant, and that soon at the end of all
Shall laugh in his lonely heart as the ripe ears fall to the reaping-hooks
And the poor are filled that were empty,
Tho' he go hungry.
I have squandered the splendid years that the Lord God gave to my youth
In attempting impossible things, deeming them alone worth the toil.

Was it folly or grace? Not men shall judge me, but God.
I have squandered the splendid years:
Lord, if I had the years I would squander them over again,
Aye, fling them from me !
For this I have heard in my heart, that a man shall scatter, not hoard,
Shall do the deed of to-day, nor take thought of to-morrow's teen,
Shall not bargain or huxter with God ; or was it a jest of Christ's
And is this my sin before men, to have taken Him at His word?
The lawyers have sat in council, the men with the keen, long faces,
And said, `This man is a fool,' and others have said, `He blasphemeth;'
And the wise have pitied the fool that hath striven to give a life
In the world of time and space among the bulks of actual things,
To a dream that was dreamed in the heart, and that only the heart could hold.

O wise men, riddle me this: what if the dream come true?
What if the dream come true? and if millions unborn shall dwell
In the house that I shaped in my heart, the noble house of my thought?
Lord, I have staked my soul, I have staked the lives of my kin
On the truth of Thy dreadful word. Do not remember my failures,
But remember this my faith
And so I speak.
Yea, ere my hot youth pass, I speak to my people and say:
Ye shall be foolish as I; ye shall scatter, not save;
Ye shall venture your all, lest ye lose what is more than all;
Ye shall call for a miracle, taking Christ at His word.
And for this I will answer, O people, answer here and hereafter,
O people that I have loved, shall we not answer together?