Turn back, O man!

I first read these words when I was quite young; even then, I found them interesting. It still amazes me that politicians in particular and others who govern the destiny of the western world- albeit momentarily- have a stubborn aversion from looking back to learn from the past, and moreover, from staying true to the fundamental value of what man really wants.

We want a peaceful world as the words I post here suggest. But I don’t think we are approaching the problem of its achievement- any of us- in the right way. I don’t mean we should all turn to God for a solution. Far from it. But it worries me to see how much time people spend doing activities that don’t make them any happier simply for money. We know money doesn’t provide happiness.

Over to Bax:

Turn back, O man, forswear thy foolish ways.
old now is earth, and none may count her days.
yet thou, her child, whose head is crowned with flame,
still wilt not hear thine inner God proclaim,
“Turn back, O man, forswear thy foolish ways.”

Earth might be fair and all men glad and wise.
age after age their tragic empires rise,
built while they dream, and in that dreaming weep:
would man but wake from out his haunted sleep,
earth might be fair and all men glad and wise.

Earth shall be fair, and all her people one:
nor till that hour shall God’s whole will be done.
Now, even now, once more from earth to sky,
peals forth in joy man’s old undaunted cry:
“Earth shall be fair and all her folk be one!”

Words: Clifford Bax, 1919

I have a good book for you to read by Jose Ortega y Gasset called the ‘The Revolt of the Masses’. If I may quote a passage…

Contrary to what is usually thought, it is the man of excellence, and not the common man who lives in essential certitude. Life has no saviour for him unless he makes it consist in something transcendental

…Unless we become men like this, aristocratic, then we shall never see the world you dream of.

…not the common man who lives in essential certitude…

Opps! Certitude should be servitude.

gavtmcc

“I first read these words when I was quite young; even then, I found them interesting.”

I wont argue with that.

“It still amazes me…”

How old are you?

“…that politicians in particular and others who govern the destiny of the western world- albeit momentarily-…”

No, no, no, no, no! Who are you speaking of? We, all of us, “govern” not just “politicians… …and others…” and we govern through our maker: - nature, destiny, fate, providence, chance, luck, accident, acts of god – whatever!

“…have a stubborn aversion from looking back to learn from the past, and moreover, from staying true to the fundamental value of what man really wants.”

Is that what this poem is about? Do you know the history of the poet, his circumstances and his values, the reason(s) he composed it?

”We want a peaceful world as the words I post here suggest.”

That is your interpretation.

“But I don’t think we are approaching the problem of its achievement- any of us- in the right way.”

Speak for yourself!

“I don’t mean we should all turn to God for a solution.”

You wont find what you’re looking for in the outside world.

“…hear thine inner God proclaim…”

We all hearken to the inner god, daimon, genius, whatever…

“Far from it.”

We’re all attempting to “forswear” our “foolish ways.”

“But it worries me to see how much time people spend doing activities that don’t make them any happier simply for money.”

Your fears are irrational, unfounded, and sentimental.

“We know money doesn’t provide happiness.”

But it does give to some short-lived euphoria, to others self-satisfaction, and to others still the illusion of security.

P.S. Here are a few beautiful lines I came across just recently in an unexpected source…

In Derry vale,
beside the singing river,
So oft I strayed,
ah, many years ago,
And culled at morn
the golden daffodillies,
That came with Spring
to set the world aglow

Oh Derry vale my thoughts are ever turning
To your broad stream and fairy circled lea
For your green isles my exiled heart is yearning
So far away across the sea

The poem is a window into wider arguments. My purpose here is not schoolboy analysis of the miutae of poetic motivation. My point is a more general one about the uses of history, and our inability to learn as poeples from the experience of our ancestors.

Far be it from me, phrygian slave to pick apart the absurdly vegetative criticicisms of my previous post. You have made it abundantly clear to me already taht you ourself have a mind only concerned with highlighting obscure points: I shall not worry to busy myself with a similar task regarding your (equally imprecise, criticism- worthy) post.

Returning to the point; man has not learned his lesson. How might one see the words in the poem I have cited on picking up on this idea (?) and why do we persist in our ignorance of history’s lessons?

Gavtmcc

What the fuck is this?

I actually enjoyed your post! I simply annotated it with a few thoughts! I wasn’t criticising you but supporting you in your endeavours! I don’t know why I bothered!

phrygianslave the wise

please keep on writing and enlightning us. I really look up to you and what you say. In fact I look for your posts first, whenever I come to ILP.

Arif Aziz Shaikh

azizarif

Thank you for your very kind words! I don’t wish to start up some sort of mutual admiration cum you-slap-my-back-and-I’ll-slap-yours society but I have been struck by the intelligence and good will of your own posts!

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to contribute anything of substance of late! Too much of my time has been taken up with the, as it were, ‘exorcism,’ of three or four, ‘demons,’ that have run rampant on ILP. These diabolical forces understand nothing except how to be ignorant and rude and I have been forced to talk to them in their own tongue, i.e., in the only language they understand.

The two principal, ‘demons,’ are called, Rafajafar, and, Dr.Satanical. If you have any problems with them please do not hesitate to inform me and I will come to your aid.

Courage!

P.

Phrygian slave the wise
ha ha, I also don’t want to crate any such society, but I feel guilty for not coming to your aid, I don’t have the kind of reasoning abilities you possess, due to which I feel that my so called “aid” will mess things up for you, other reason for not coming to your aid is lack of courage, I belong to the religion which has become sidelined in today’s world, I believe in my religion from the depth of my heart and this belief is unshakable (though my religion also ask me to believe in innocence of all prophets, and I believe in them unshakably), but the people who criticize the religion seems to me that they haven’t studied the religion in its entirety and with unbiased ness, due to which there is a chance that I might go into a topic where the sacred icons and prophets are not treated properly. There are certain topics which I don’t want to touch. Hope you understand my point. Though, I will call you whenever I am in need of an aid. Thank you!

Arif Aziz