Sunday, January 25, 2015

What Will Your Verse Be?

O Me! O Life!
(Walt Whitman)

O me! O life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill'd with the foolish
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish then I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of objects mean, of the struggle ever renew'd,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring - What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here - that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

I will be the first to admit, I don't usually read poetry from the time this poem was written - much less use it in a blog post. It reminds me too much of English class and how much I disliked it and struggled with it.

A few days ago, I was watching the movie "Dead Poet's Society" with a friend, when a part of this poem caught my attention. At the start of the poem, the despair of the poet is evident. He is looking for the good amid all the bad he sees around him. The last two lines of the poem offer the answer to his despairing question:

          That you are here - that life exists and identity
          That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

It can be easy to despair of anything good when we look at the world we live in. The violence, disease, war, poverty, hatred that seems to overwhelm us. Even the circumstances of our own life can cause us to despair. To ask the question: Where is the good?

But, that's not where we are to get stuck. There is something beyond that for us. Our very existence means that we can be a part of the good in the world. We have an opportunity to pay a part in what happens.

The English teacher in the movie "Dead Poet's Society" asks his class a question after the last line of the poem is read. He asks, "What will your verse be?" What part in the drama unfolding around us will we play?

         The powerful play goes, and you may contribute a verse.

This life goes on and we are here. We have a chance to contribute to the good in the world. To contribute to what God us up to .

What will your verse be?

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