We All Need a Poem

The imposed quarantine, hopefully ending soon, has, also hopefully, given us more time to think and reflect on the most important things. Surely, it has also given us more time to focus our eyes on TV, computer, tablet and phone screens. The internet, which brings to us happenings around the world instantaneously, is a wonderful modern way of disseminating information, but it has now also constricted the view and does not show the whole picture of what is going on in the world. The news and commentaries are chosen for us by those who control them, thus distorting reality and truth as they aggressively cancel opposing views and the free expression of ideas.

Technology under the control of the powerful and those who want to fashion the world and people in accordance with their agenda do not bode well for humanity for it stifles the conditions under which the same humanity will flourish according to the grand design of its Maker.

History tells us the stories of the once-powerful and mighty -- the Hitlers, the Bonapartes, the King Henrys, the Maos, the Cardinal Richelieus, the Marxes, the Lenins, the Stalins. They were consigned to the dust bins of the past, forgotten, even despised and ridiculed. But wait! Their roots buried deep are shooting back from the ground, and those who are naive enough, evil enough, uncaring enough, are letting them, nay pushing them, to make a comeback.

History also records the valiant heroes of both Country and Faith -- the Thomas Mores, the King Louises, the Joan of Arcs, the Pius Xs, and now the Mother Teresas, the John Paul IIs, the Martin Luther King, Jrs, the selfless American veterans, the Christian Martyrs, the Mother Angelicas.

We will always have the high and the lowly, the mighty and the powerless, the wealthy and the poor, the swell-headed and the simple, the truthful and the deceitful, the good and the evil, the beautiful and the ugly.

It behooves everyone, I think, to focus on what life is really all about. It is time to get out from our now self-imposed quarantine and go to a country churchyard, to memorial parks (erstwhile called cemeteries), and immerse ourselves in the sight and silence of what is around us to bring ourselves back to the reality that we will someday inevitably be part of that growing community. We may in life be unequal, but Death is the great equalizer, as a poet said. It does not respect persons. But to us believers in Christ, the grave is not the end. The urn is not the end. We are all born for higher things.

But even now, in the comfort of our homes, we can make such a visit. The great English poet, Thomas Gray, has done it before and left his poetic musings as a legacy to us. His “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” masterfully written with all its beauty, can help us make that visit. (it is reproduced here below in its entirety.)

He can make us see, with our mind’s eyes, probably the folly of most of our worldly quests and strivings, and bring us to the reality of a higher realm where we, in the final analysis, and the hunger of our hearts, would like to be.

Consider, for instance, the Elegy's warning, thus:

"The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r

And all that beauty all that wealth e'er gave

Awaits alike th' inevitable hour.

The paths of glory lead but to the grave."

We all need a poem, to read slowly, meditatively, more than like a movie, then prayerfully — without the assistance of a commentary.

We all need this poem, I believe.

Because, whether we like it or not, we need the Lord. #

Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

By Thomas Gray

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,

The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,

The plowman homeward plods his weary way,

And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

Now fades the glimm'ring landscape on the sight,

And all the air a solemn stillness holds,

Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,

And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;

Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tow'r