Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, great as each may be, their highest comfort given to the sorrowful is a cordial introduction into another’s woe. Sorrow’s the great community in which all men born of woman are members at one time or another.
Is America a land of God where saints abide for ever? Where golden fields spread fair and broad, where flows the crystal river? Certainly not flush with saints, and a good thing, too, for the saints sent buzzing into man’s ken now are but poor-mouthed ecclesiastical film stars and cliche-shouting publicity agents. Their little knowledge bringing them nearer to their ignorance, ignorance bringing them nearer to death, but nearness to death no nearer to God.
Here we have bishops, priests, and deacons, a Censorship Board, vigilant librarians, confraternities and sodalities, Duce Maria, Legions of Mary, Knights of this Christian order and Knights of that one, all surrounding the sinner’s free will in an embattled circle.
The drama’s altar isn’t on the stage: it is candle-sticked and flowered in the box office. There is the gold, though there be no frankincense or myrrh; and the gospel for the day always The Play will Run for a Year. The Dove of Inspiration, of the desire for inspiration, has flown away from it; and on it’s roof, now, the commonplace crow caws candidly.
You cannot put a rope around the neck of an idea; you cannot put an idea up against the barrack-square wall and riddle it with bullets; you cannot confine it in the strongest prison cell your slaves could ever build.
I have found life an enjoyable, enchanting, active, and sometime terrifying experience, and I’ve enjoyed it completely. A lament in one ear, maybe, but always a song in the other.
The flame from the angel’s sword in the garden of Eden has been catalyzed into the atom bomb; God’s thunderbolt became blunted, so man’s thunderbolt has become the steel star of destruction.
Laughter is wine for the soul—laugh soft, or loud and deep, tinged through with seriousness. Comedy and tragedy step through life together, arm in arm… Once we can laugh, we can live.
The military mind is indeed a menace. Old-fashioned futurity that sees only men fighting and dying in smoke and fire; hears nothing more civilized than a cannonade; scents nothing but the stink of battle-wounds and blood.
Here, the churches seemed to shrink away into eroding corners. They seem to have ceased to be essential parts of American life. They no longer give life. It is the huge buildings of commerce and trade which now align the people to attention. These in their massive manner of steel and stone say, Come unto me all ye who labor, and we will give you work.
The wide wonder of Broadway is disconsolate in the daytime; but gaudily glorious at night, with a milling crowd filling sidewalk and roadway, silent, going up, going down, between upstanding banks of brilliant lights, each building braided and embossed with glowing, many-colored bulbs of man-rayed luminance. A glowing valley of the shadow of life. The strolling crowd went slowly by through the kinematically divine thoroughfare of New York.
If church prelates, past or present, had even an inkling of physiology they’d realize that what they term this inner ugliness creates and nourishes the hearing ear, the seeing eye, the active mind, and energetic body of man and woman, in the same way that dirt and dung at the roots give the plant its delicate leaves and the full-blown rose.
Wealth often takes away chances from men as well as poverty. There is none to tell the rich to go on striving, for a rich man makes the law that hallows and hollows his own life.
Disease can never be conquered, can never be quelled by emotion’s willful screaming or faith’s symbolic prayer. It can only be conquered by the energy of humanity and the cunning in the mind of man. In the patience of a Curie, in the enlightenment of a Faraday, a Rutherford, a Pasteur, a Nightingale, and all other apostles of light and cleanliness, rather than of a woebegone godliness, we shall find final deliverance from plague, pestilence, and famine.
Here, with whitened hair, desires failing, strength ebbing out of him, with the sun gone down and with only the serenity and the calm warning of the evening star left to him, he drank to Life, to all it had been, to what it was, to what it would be. Hurrah!
Topics: Aging, Age
All the world’s a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed.
Wondering Whom to Read Next?
- Elizabeth Bowen Irish Novelist
- Sheridan Le Fanu Irish Novelist
- Oliver Goldsmith Anglo-Irish Novelist, Poet
- Richard Brinsley Sheridan Irish-born British Playwright
- Hans Hofmann American Painter
- Brendan Behan Irish Poet
- Seamus Heaney Irish Poet, Playwright
- Edmund Burke British Philosopher, Statesman
- Brian Friel Irish Dramatist, Short Story Writer
- Oscar Wilde Irish Poet, Playwright