Guest poem sent in by Rajeev
(Poem #25) The Poet's Testament
I give back to the earth what the earth gave, All to the furrow, none to the grave, The candle's out, the spirit's vigil spent; Sight may not follow where the vision went. I leave you but the sound of many a word In mocking echoes haply overheard, I sang to heaven. My exile made me free, from world to world, from all worlds carried me. Spared by the furies, for the Fates were kind, I paced the pillared cloisters of the mind; All times my present, everywhere my place, Nor fear, nor hope, nor envy saw my face. Blow what winds would, the ancient truth was mine, And friendship mellowed in the flush of wine, And heavenly laughter, shaking from its wings Atoms of light and tears for mortal things. To trembling harmonies of field and cloud, Of flesh and spirit was my worship vowed. Let form, let music, let all quickening air Fulfil in beauty my imperfect prayer.
George Santayana is considered a contemporary architect of philosophic thought. He balanced his many interests to make considerable contributions in literature and philosophy. He distinguished himself as a professor of philosophy at Harvard University, teaching philosophy as a way of life rather than just as an academic subject. He was a philosopher, poet, critic of culture and literature, and best-selling novelist. Although born in Spain, Santayana said that he must be considered an American author and philosopher. Educated in the United States, he taught at Harvard University for over twenty years. He retired from Harvard in order to be a full-time writer and philosopher (he had planned for early retirement since the mid-1890s, but Harvard's president prevailed upon him to stay two years longer than he planned). Although he was invited to hold positions at Oxford University, Harvard University, and Brown University, he chose to live the remaining forty years of his life in Europe traveling and writing, finally settling in Rome in a Catholic hospital-clinic in 1941 after an unsuccessful attempt to leave the country for Switzerland during World War II. He was then seventy-nine years old. These forty international years were remarkably productive in terms of his literary corpus, and his correspondence as a celebrated philosopher and writer was extensive. He is one of a few philosophers to appear on the cover of Time magazine (3 February 1936). - Introduction to the Letters of George Santayana What attracted me to poetry was the music and the sense of rhythm of it all. This was not always the case with most of the works that I read, where the beat wasn't apparent the first time. This particular poem was a notable exception - simple, no frills, and it goes straight to your heart. I like to think of it as the reason why we read poetry.... Regards Rajeev PS : Incidentally, Will Durant's masterpiece - The Story of Philosophy - has a chapter on Santayana and his philosophical work, for those interested....