Saturday, 15 May 2010

Browning on the Precious and Eternal Soul

Ay, note that Potter's wheel,
That metaphor! and feel
Why time spins fast, why passive lies our clay,--
Thou, to whom fools propound,
When the wine makes its round,
"Since life fleets, all is change; the Past gone, seize to-day!"

Fool! All that is, at all,
Lasts ever, past recall;
Earth changes, but thy soul and God stand sure:
What entered into thee,
That was, is, and shall be:
Time's wheel runs back or stops: Potter and clay endure.

He fixed thee mid this dance
Of plastic circumstance,
This Present, thou, forsooth, wouldst fain arrest:
Machinery just meant
To give thy soul its bent,
Try thee and turn thee forth, sufficiently impressed.

(from Rabbi Ben Ezra, by Robert Browning)

What a cruel joke it would be if we, able to imagine and hunger for eternal things great and deep, were no more than mosquitos or mushrooms. Don't you, with Browning, cry out in your heart at the outrage of such an idea, that we - knowing and longing for more - are here, by chance, for our short day with no greater meaning than we can manufacture ourselves? Doesn't your intellect swell with indignance at being forced to accept an idea so ill-matched to all that can be known and sensed about the self? There must be no mistake about this. We, into whom God has breathed the breath of his own life, are a thing wonderful and mysterious in our souls. We are eternal.

And, what is more, we are loved.

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