A RAKE’S PROGRESS: A COMEDY IN TWO ACTS (redux)

(I have radically revised a poem of a few days ago, and wanted to post the finished version.)

 

Prologue:

When you are the tempest

You don’t notice the gale

Swirling tumult menace

 

In the calming after the threat

You shudder at what could have been

Destruction skirting rash choices, obnoxious, noxious

Act I:

For this life it was long life in schools,

For others it could be other—say, family, workplace, working the land, art

My academic life so much this life, persistent

How I absorbed—no—consumed knowledge, consumer of knowledge

A student indebted to the luxury of lux, illumination

Guided and goaded through many books, no one could count how many books

No one could count how many names and footnotes,

Greater and lesser luminaries in the skies of every age—

Rishis, Lao Tzu, Homer, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammed

Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, William Blake, Percy Bysshe Shelley, T. S. Eliot

Adi Shankaracharya, Plato and all his footnotes: Thomas Hobbes, Descartes, Immanuel Kant,

Soren Kierkegaard, Auguste Comte, Jacques Derrida, Richard Rorty, Charles Taylor

Reasoning, disputing, inquiring, assimilating, dissipating in pubs after class

Academic identity, subjects discussed, discussing how to discuss

Utilitarianism and Deontological ethics, epistemology the great, narrative, and the favored child

Deconstruction

 

Learning to learn to continue to learn

Living to learn at leisure and pleasure

Learning to grow trying on life, lives

Trying a Hemingwayesque character (to become a man), or The Artist as a Young Man, evolving into self

Yet it wasn’t the schools, the books, the names, that academic style, for this, my life

Nor would it be family, workplace, working the land, art alone for others

In a critical life worth living, not unexamined—passing time unaware

 

To see in a single vision the course of a life

While karma is lived out of developmental stages

Surrounded, bounded, encased within

The facts, that academic style, the collegial camaraderie

Do not make the personality’s lasting completion

Make person, mark lasting brain synapses firmware

Within the encounter with environment, the contours of self are carved

Not necessarily unchanged but the self, persistent

 

Act II:

 

A seed, a stem, a blossom, growth—becoming

The single flower—but is it?

From raging adolescence into combative adulthood

Through economic cooperation vocation teamwork

Emergence: genuine caring, community, the other

The shell that was learning and environment

Husking through what becomes self-development

In fact, new self, though persisting

 

The process of my formal education was

But a shell in which I formed.

The facts, forms of knowing, interlocutor interactions

Outside, the self incubating within the process

How ill-suited I was for a serious academic career

Working through the karma of a developing self,

Headstrong, too sure of a developing self

Indifferent to social norms—“What have I to do with thee?”

The wisdom I acquired was not in the books—

The many books, no one could count how many books, the names and footnotes

But in the crucible the walls of which were the process of my education

 

Epilogue:

 

In the calming after the threat

You shudder at what could have been

Destruction skirting rash choices, obnoxious, noxious

 

A narrow escape from who I was

 

The wisdom I have acquired am becoming, balance in choices affirm

And decorum, more or less, contours of cooperation—no—eco-operation

In sync.  Sympatico I become at peace, bright affection alone with together

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