Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Poem for Monday

To Each in His Own Tongue

A FIRE-MIST and a planet,--
A crystal and a cell,--
A jelly-fish and a saurian,
And caves where the cave-men dwell;
Then a sense of law and beauty,
And a face turned from the clod,--
Some call it Evolution,
And others call it God.

A haze on the far horizon,
The infinite, tender sky,
The ripe, rich tint of the cornfields,
And the wild geese sailing high,--
And all over the upland and lowland
The charm of the goldenrod,--
Some of us call it Autumn,
And others call it God.

Like tides on a crescent sea-beach,
When the moon is new and thin,
Into our hearts high yearnings
Come welling and surging in,--
Come from the mystic ocean
Whose rim no foot has trod,--
Some of us call it longing,
And others call it God.

A picket frozen on duty,--
A mother starved for her brood,--
Socrates drinking the hemlock,
And Jesus on the rood;
And millions who, humble and nameless,
The straight, hard pathways plod,--
Some call it Consecration,
And others call it God.

-William Herbert Carruth

I think the strength of this poem is demonstrated by the diversity of its admirers. I've seen it quoted by Christian preachers in sermons against evolution and by scientists in essays stating that evolution does not make claims against belief in the divine. It's sweeping and startling imagery also bolsters its popularity, I am sure. As a skeptic I am comforted by the author's assurance that the overwhelming nature of life defies explanation. In fact, the author seems to be saying that labels don't matter, since their power to explain is ultimately wanting.

1 comment:

pavlov said...

Hadn't seen this one before, but he seems to be taking a religous stand to me - that all those things are really god and not whatever humans call them. Nicely worded poem though.