It's less easy to understand when we encounter shades of gray, things that don't belong so sharply divided. It's having my eyes opened to degrees of right and wrong that so made the fiction of Chris Crutcher so impactive for me. And so my poems today are from both edges of the spectrum in multiple ways. The first poem I memorized in high school (and I don't think I entirely understood it at the time), the other I first discovered scrawled on a white board in a classroom, and it's struck me with such thoughtfulness that I wrote it for years on other white boards in empty classrooms, hoping that it encouraged someone else to think as I had.
When I was young and bold and strong,
Oh, right was right, and wrong was wrong!
My plume on high, my flag unfurled,
I rode away to right the world.
"Come out, you dogs, and fight!" said I,
And wept there was but once to die.
But I am old; and good and bad
Are woven in a crazy plaid.
I sit and say, "The world is so;
And he is wise who lets it go.
A battle lost, a battle won-
The difference is small, my son."
Inertia rides and riddles me;
The which is called Philosophy.
- Dorothy Parker
In men whom men condemn as ill,
I find so much of goodness still.
In men whom men pronounce divine
I see so much of sin and blot
I hesitate to draw a line
Between the two
Where God has not.
- Joaquin Miller, 1837-1913
It's all a matter of balance and perspective, isn't it? In life as in art: balance and perspective...
Poetry Friday is hosted today by Two Writing Teachers. Enjoy your weekend.