A Desolate Poem on the Meaning of Life
Sometimes young things,
with trembling or with fear,
“My master (or my dear),
do you know what is life?
Is it love?
Is it hate?
Is it peace or strife?”
“The Greeks called it zoe,
psyche, physis, bios . . .
Hegel spoke of it highly
in his early works.
In Nietzsche ‘life’ has many meanings
(He was rather careless
in his vocabulary.)
Dilthey . . .”
they listen, they write down.
But there is scorn and irony
in their clear eyes.
That is why
I will write
what I feel
to be right
For life is many things.
“The blink of any eye, a speck of dust.
A cry of pain, a pang of lust.
A thrill of pleasure, a scream of delight.
A panting, a howling, a roaring, a bite.
A chill of fear, a sigh of bliss.
A caress on the shoulders, a humid kiss.
A fit of anger, a gust of zest.
A sense of calmness, a taste of rest.
A touch of evil, a hint of good.
A nosegay of flowers, a heap of soot.
A comedy of errors, a glimpse of truth.
An ocean of cruelty, an island of ruth.
A stroke of fortune, an evil spell.
A blessing, a torment, a heaven, a hell.”
Let me now summarize
the meaning of life,
and give it a name:
“A self-consuming flame