Two poems of knowledge, learning and history for the end of a day of writing.
The first poem is from Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe. Goethe, in other words. The second poem is from e.e. Cummings who, along with Marcel Mauss, is my current non-exclusive boyfriend. I sincerely hope that you find these two poems as suitable a pair as I did. The first, by Goethe, is presented here as translated by John Whaley, published through Everyman Paperbacks, London.
Nature and Art (1800)
Though art and nature seem sore disunited
Yet each, before you think, to each is turning;
I too no longer sense discordant spurning,
By equal pulls seem equally excited.
An honest effort’s bound to be requited!
If measured hours we dedicate to learning
And bind ourselves to art with zeal discerning
The heart may glow with nature new ignited.
So too all forming culture needs some tether:
Unbridled spirits end in vain disaster
Pursuing pure perfection’s elevation.
Who wants great things must get himself together;
Constraint is where you show you are a master,
And only law is freedom’s sure foundation.
If one were to substitute ‘law’ for morality I might have almost been agreeable. I much prefer, however, the following – by dear mr. e.e. Cummings. This poem is either untitled and numbered or entitled ‘84’ as included in 100 Selected Poems published by Grove Press, New York. This is just wonderful!
all ignorance toboggans into know
and trudges up to ignorance again:
but winter’s not forever,even snow
melts;and if spring should spoil the game,what then?
all history’s a winter sport or three:
but were it five,i’d still insist that all
history is too small for even me;
for me and you,exceedingly too small.
Swoop(shrill collective myth)into thy grave
merely toil the scale to shrillerness
per every madge and mabel dick and dave
-tomorrow is our permanent address
and there they’ll scarcely find us(if they do,
we’ll move away still further:into now