Edvard Munch - Study of an Old Man's Head


“Marvellous,” so he thinks, “just why it is
Creation’s robe’s so blood stained?  Stubborn remains, they insist;
They persist, disease, and carnage, yes! Rising famine, orphans; lists
That never end, and then of course that always fatal kiss,
This blasphemy of complaint and intuition that we
May not truly live at all!” Effortlessly, nights wear on. Responding,
These and beauteous phantoms blend and in their careless logging—
Pages in this life and well into the next—we see
The Sadrat’u’l-Muntahá and merely breathe. We throw up
Our hands and beg the question although we always know
Who and what it is we seek. To ourselves and no one else flow
Freely in the Upper Room the clouds of incense for a requiem; to Him, the cup,
The cynosure placed perpetually on the table, the guests long gone,
The Holy Writ upon the wall, this tabula rasa, this once and final song.

…painting above by Evard Munch…

6 responses to ““Marvellous”

  1. so much pain and suffering in the World, is this ‘Hell’ to learn how not to live? Are we to ask and ask again, forever more.. Why? and will we never like or understand the answer?

    • Of course, these questions are loaded. Definitive answers can only come from fools or prophets.

      My own experience in this world tells me that your questions are valid. Having said that, still, while they are the questions that should be asked, no answer can be entirely pleasing for the simple reason that if, as I suspect, you were truly asking, these questions can only be neo-rhetorical, with only a rhetorical answer being acceptable.

      I am not pleased with life in and of itself, but by now, after over six decades, I have accepted the seemingly pedagogical reasons for it all and have no choice but to accept it as it is with a kind of radiant acquiescence that is not possible at least for me save for the connection I feel both to the Creator as well as His Creation with Whom I am presently dealing. At best, life is one long series of often disagreeable but entirely fruitful experiences all of which lead not so much to a kind of “peace on earth” but rather to a “peace” that is greater now than it was when first encountered it just as this “earth” is not what it was when I first encountered it, consciously―notwithstanding the destructive elements of civilization, notwithstanding the number of wars that are raging even as I write, notwithstanding the Western chosen ignorance of the egregious state of pain and vexation felt by the majority of souls on this planet―but is greater in capacities now than it was.

      Whereas within the womb we are physically perfected after conception to the point at which we can physically enter life equipped not only to live and breathe and breed in this world but to thrive within it, whether as individuals or as families, tribes, nations, et cetera. Physical development in this world is in fact redundant since we were perfected for this world while still in the womb. Physical goals, therefore, are a fruitless quest in this world, so far as I can see. Here, however, within this world, we are prepared not physically but spiritually to assume our rightful spiritual realities in the Next World, and in this sense, while physically speaking, life is not always a bowl of cherries, still, no one loses, no matter what their plight insofar as the whole of this life is not provided for our entertainment and certainly not even for our final homes as anyone who has passed a cemetery must guess, but rather for the spiritual gains that are not merely possible but probable for anyone who addresses life here within the limitations imposed upon material beings that are in fact spirits. Bodies be damned, it is our souls that are tried and made to grow while we breathe. This answer is simplistic in the extreme, but nevertheless, it is as I have discovered it to be. Insofar as I have never known a comfortable moment in this world since the day I was born, I suspect any soul with integrity and truthfulness will admit the same thing. This is not to say that there is no such thing as happiness and no joys can be found in breathing; it is to say, however, that unless the whole of it is couched in terms that make sense to the soul, not the body, what can be enjoyed in this world is ephemeral at best, and utterly painful at worst.

      In other words, at best, your questions have to be treated rhetorically no matter how sincerely asked because it is not in the nature of this world that we arrive at any conclusion or perfection that is satisfactory in and of itself and does not give rise to even greater questions and conclusions and ever more perfect states and perfections through to the last breath we take. The choice is simple: accept life for what it is, a kind of proving ground for the development of our souls in preparation for the next world, or, simply succumb to the proposition that, as Van Morrison once wrote in the lyrics of one song or another, “It ain’t ‘why?’ it just is!” and make the best of it as any natural born animal would suggest. The critical mass of humanity tends to agree with Morrison. By definition, any degree of progress and understanding or the processes of affirmation is at once the enemy of those who would negate the spiritual premises and goals of this life in favour of the purely material. If at present, then, the number of souls in this world who despair of any mention of the spirit, it is no wonder that questions may be asked incessantly but with no hope of answers and even where there may be hope, no probability of acceptance on the part of the greater numbers of humanity whose very modus operandi depends directly on negating anything connected with virtue in favour of whatever furthers their own material pursuits. Throughout history, both extremes have been represented within the existing body of humankind. With all this in mind, whether from the standpoint of sincere questions concerning the appearance of horrors in this world, most souls would hope that you join them with the status quo; at the same time, one of the qualities of a affirmative world is exposure to whatever this world offers with a view toward overcoming its effects and so of course no one ever really reaches nirvana on this planet notwithstanding anyone’s claim to the contrary.

      I don’t think we ever get to the end of it with no questions left unanswered from birth through to death; no mother or infant can escape the trials of the womb and birth, but both mother and child will admit that they are glad to be alive once birth is accomplished. By the same token, no one alive escapes the endless trials of this world but both the Creator and His created appreciate consciously what we only subconsciously know to be true, that the gift of life is not this life but life, itself, an eternal approach to worlds entirely beyond description in this world but nonetheless are obviously there before us not only in every stage of our lives here, but in what comes after we leave this world.

      Perhaps, Pen, you were not asking for an entire lecture from Existence 101, but when I read your messages, it occurred to me that you were not merely writing rhetorically in order to fill in space on an Internet site. If what I have expressed here is “too much information,” please simply delete and forgive the presumption on my part.

      • No deletion, and thank you for your lengthy but totally absorbing replies… … Now and again I get bogged down with wondering and pondering and I should simply get on with it… MY excuse, should I have need of one, is I’ve looked hard at myself and my motivations and I wonder about my ancestors who have lived and died, dreamed and borne children into this world, passing gene’s on generation by generation… to present day, where we squander time as no generation has done before, in thinking and sharing our thoughts on the newest wonder of our age….the Inter-connecting-internet of never ending communication…Instantly, at the touch of a finger to the keyboard… Thoughts buzzing around, questions zinging about, to answers of which there are many, almost too many to choose from… I almost wish for a power surge and breakdown sometimes… than I think again, for we are all interconnected are we not, by the mere fact of being alive…xPenx

  2. How did this poem show up today in my RSS reader—5 years after you wrote it…

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