and, to be perfectly honest, it bums me out.
So many great ones! —libidinal heroes,
idealists, warrior-chieftains, revolutionaries,
fabulists of all sorts, even the great Irish pig farmers
and Armenian raisin growers —and who,
I ask myself, am I by comparison? Calmed
by Valium, urged on by Viagra, uplifted
by Prozac, I go about my daily rounds,
a quotidian member of the quotidian hierarchy,
a Perseus with neither a war nor a best friend,
and sink to the depths of despair
on the broken wings of my own mundanity.
If only some god had given me greatness,
I surely would have made something of it—
perhaps a loftier, more humble poem than this,
or some übermenschliche gesture that would reveal
my superiority to the ordinary beings and things
of this world. But here I am now, one of
the earth’s mere Sancho Panzas, leading
those heroic others through the world on their
magnificent horses, merely turning the page, dreaming
my own small deeds into their magnificent arms.
“I Think Constantly of Those Who Were Truly Great” by Michael Blumenthal, from No Hurry: Poems 2000-2012. © Etruscan Press, 2012. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
7 Replies to “I Think Constantly of Those Who Were Truly Great”
I don’t think those “Truly Great Ones” were out to intimidate or even inspire. They were just doing their thing. Find your thing and you might just prove to be another “Great One” yourself.
Oh, I do. But do you not sometimes look at the lives of others as models or inspiration? I would not want to only use myself as my only source.
Yes, I do look at the lives of others for both models and inspiration. I also remember that they share the same human conditions and yet they managed to do extraordinary things. This often gives me courage to keep doing my thing.
Exactly. That’s what I meant, too. I didn’t think of seeing someone I admire and think to become a mimic, but do often try to understand why they did what they did, and to learn what I can from that.
Isn’t the “why” universal? It is the “how” that gets me interested.
I think both are important, depending. Sometimes I come across someone who’s “whys” are a real challenge to understand. It’s worth trying, though, because I’ve tried to maintain enough humility to be able to give others the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes I see something we have in common, often I don’t. But I’m still curious.
The ‘how’ is interesting, too, though. That’s where I start taking in and synthesizing things from others into my own understanding or emotional truths. That’s where one of my creative furnaces lives, and where some of the writing comes from.
You make a good point.
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