From time to time I do write here about art. Great and small. Divine and human. So called ‘high culture’, the ultimate achievement of humankind, our highest evolutionary destiny. Art and abstract or intellectual beauty. And yet, now and than, you come across a gem of unparalleled clarity that touches your soul. And it is not Michelangelo, nor Raphael or Picasso. It is not Homer, Plato or Shakespeare or Milosz and Genet. Some guy or girl, young or old who managed, at a divine moment of utmost reflection and grace, to say it all. The entire experience of man. The ultimate sadness of it fleetingness and yet the beauty of its journey. So, today, when I was reading some of my friends posts on Facebook (the strange forest of estranged friends, as I call it sometimes), I came across this poem of an old, unknown (although for practical and unimportant reason we know his name) man, who passed away in some Nursing Home, somewhere. That poem is a pure essence of life, joy and sorrow. In a reflective, quite and resigned voice.
As there is (probably) no one to claim any proprietary right to it, I will re-publish it here. For it belongs to all of us. It is the sum of our humanity.
Cranky Old Man
What do you see nurses? What do you see?
What are you thinking when you’re looking at me?
A cranky old man, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice, ‘I do wish you’d try!
Who seems not to notice the things that you do.
And forever is losing a sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not, lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill?
Is that what you’re thinking? Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse. You’re not looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of ten, with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters who love one another
A young boy of sixteen with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now a lover he’ll meet.
A groom soon at twenty my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows that I promised to keep.
At twenty-five, now I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide and a secure happy home.
A man of thirty, my young now grown fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last.
At forty, my young sons have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me to see I don’t mourn.
At fifty, once more, babies play ‘round my knee,
Again, we know children, my loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me. My wife is now dead.
I look at the future. I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own.
And I think of the years, and the love that I’ve known.
I’m now an old man and nature is cruel.
It’s jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles. Grace and vigour, depart.
There is now a stone where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass, A young man still dwells,
And now and again my battered heart swells.
I remember the joys, I remember the pain.
And I’m loving and living life over again.
I think of the years, all too few, gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people. Open and see.
Not a cranky old man.. Look closer .. See.. Me
Originally written by Dave Griffith
I have found it on the page belonging and maintained by Randy Connell. Randy, thanks for sharing it with us.