Unpredictable But Providential
Spring with its thrusting leaves and jargling birds is here again
to remind me again of the first real Event, the first
genuine Accident, of that Once when, once a tiny
corner of the cosmos had turned indulgent enough
to give it a sporting chance, some Original Substance,
immortal and self-sufficient, knowing only the blind
collision experience, had the sheer audacity
to become irritable, a Self requiring a World,
a Not-Self outside Itself from which to renew Itself,
with a new freedom, to grow, a new necessity, death.
Henceforth, for the animate, to last was to mean to change,
existing both for one's own sake and that of all others,
forever in jeopardy.
The ponderous ice-dragons
performed their slow-motion ballet: continents cracked in half
and wobbled drunkenly over the waters: Gondwana
smashed head on into the under-belly of Asia.
But catastrophes only encouraged experiment.
As a rule, it was the fittest who perished, the mis-fits,
forced by failure to emigrate to unsettled niches, who
altered their structure and prospered. (Our own shrew-ancestor
was a Nobody, but still could take himself for granted,
with a poise our grandees will never acquire.)
may explain shape, size and posture, but not why one physique
should be gifted to cogitate about cogitation,
divorcing Form from Matter, and fated to co-habit
on uneasy terms with its Image, dreading a double death,
a wisher, a maker of asymmetrical objects,
a linguist who is never at home in Nature's grammar.
Science, like Art, is fun, a playing with truths, and no game
should ever pretend to slay the heavy-lidded riddle,
What is the Good Life?
Common Sense warns me of course to buy
neither but, when I compare their rival Myths of Being,
bewigged Decartes looks more outré than the painted wizard.
And immediately following in the collection I own is this one, which I think Liz, in particular, will get a kick out of:
Ode to the Diencephalon
How can you be quite so uncouth? After sharing
the same skull for all these millennia, surely
you should have discovered the cortical I is
a compulsive liar.
He has never learned you, it seems, about fig-leaves
or fire or ploughshares or vines or policemen,
that bolting or cringing can seldom earth a
We are dared every day by guilty phobias,
nightmares of missing the bus or being laughed at,
but goose-flesh, the palpitations, the squitters
won't flabbergast them.
When you could really help us, you don't. If only,
whenever the trumpet cries men to battle,
you would flash to their muscles the urgent order