- a  commentary on Tennyson's poem, "The Ancient Sage".

Comments Page 4

    “And idle gleams will come and go,
        But still the clouds remain;”

So you've had some mind games.  Has that changed anything?  Done anyone any good?  Certainly not for me.
The clouds themselves are children of the Sun.

Clouds are created by the action of the sun, and are a critical part of the process by which the sun and clouds make possible all the life on Earth, including yours.

    “And Night and Shadow rule below
        When only Day should reign.”

I still feel like I'm living in an essentially dark place and it doesn't feel right.  (The darkness is still "in man".)

And Day and Night are children of the Sun,
And idle gleams to thee are light to me.
Some say, the Light was father of the Night,
And some, the Night was father of the Light,
No night no day!—I touch thy world again—
No ill no good!

You can call it any way you want.  And in that we have something in common: our worlds have only the meaning that we impute to them.  Who knows "why".  Maybe we're both "ourselves in converse with ourselves".  Maybe we're both the "Nameless" masquerading as ourselves in converse with ourselves.  The best is glimmering through the worst, and the worst is glimmering through the best and we're the umpire.  Best and worst are both necessary and have equal legitimacy in a material world.  This is seldom recognized by people who are trying to make the world a better place.  (see Tao Te Ching, #29)  Every individual is constantly choosing which is right for his or her self, and the choices are ripples that move and reverberate throughout the boundless deep.  In a world of reciprocals and opposites, the young materialist and the sage will always both be necessary. If either vanished, their world would vanish.  Which one to be is a constant personal choice for any individual living a life in a "material" world.  The "best" can only be as good as the "worst" is bad.

                         such counter-terms, my son,
Are border-races, holding, each its own
By endless war: but night enough is there
In yon dark city: get thee back: and since
The key to that weird casket, which for thee
But holds a skull, is neither thine nor mine,
But in the hand of what is more than man,
Or in man’s hand when man is more than man,

We could argue indefinitely but I'm getting tired of it.  Take your poem and go back to where you came from.  You should feel very much at home there.  You wont think about the possibility of anything existing outside your materialist box of knowledge and the only thing you find inside it is meaninglessness and death.  You think the inside of the box is all there is and therefore you don't want to even think about climbing out of the box.  Nobody can tell you what to do.  You can stay in the box as long as you want.  To get out of the box you have to climb out and before that you have to want to climb out and before that you (not anyone else) have to feel that climbing out is the right thing to do.  The key to the box isn't involved in getting out of the box, the box is always unlocked and the key is on the outside.  You can play with the key after you've ventured outside the box.

Let be thy wail and help thy fellow men,
And make thy gold thy vassal not thy king,

And fling free alms into the beggar’s bowl,
And send the day into the darken’d heart;
Nor list for guerdon in the voice of men,
A dying echo from a falling wall;

This resonates with the earlier line (Comments pg 2, paragraph 3) "Nor take thy dial for thy deity,
But make the passing shadow serve thy will.
"  Don't value your money more than your fellow humans.  Try to improve the lives of others whether anyone's cheering you on or not.

Nor care—for Hunger hath the Evil eye—
To vex the noon with fiery gems, or fold
Thy presence in the silk of sumptuous looms;
Nor roll thy viands on a luscious tongue,
Nor drown thyself with flies in honied wine;

Don't get attached to material things and pleasures.  This is pretty much stock advice from all the major religions.

Nor thou be rageful, like a handled bee,
And lose thy life by usage of thy sting;
Nor harm an adder thro’ the lust for harm,
Nor make a snail’s horn shrink for wantonness;

Watch out for anger and cruelty.  It comes back to bite you, with interest.  Don't harm even poisonous snakes just because you think it's fun to lash out at something.  Tennyson calls a snail's eye its "horn".  Its eye is on the tip of its tentacle which projects from the top of its head like a horn, and if you touch it your salty finger causes distress to the snail and the eye shrinks in on itself to clear off the irritant.  This may be fun for you, but not for the snail.  Don't do it.  Even if Tennyson probably did when he was a kid.

And more—think well! Do-well will follow thought,
And in the fatal sequence of this world
An evil thought may soil thy children’s blood;

Where you look is where you go, and where you go affects not only you but your children and grandchildren.

But curb the beast would cast thee in the mire,
And leave the hot swamp of voluptuousness
A cloud between the Nameless and thyself,

Contrary to the advice given by Tennyson's friend Edward FitzGerald in the "Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam".

And lay thine uphill shoulder to the wheel,
And climb the Mount of Blessing, whence, if thou
Look higher, then—perchance—thou mayest—beyond
A hundred ever-rising mountain lines,
And past the range of Night and Shadow—see
The high-heaven dawn of more than mortal day
Strike on the Mount of Vision!

Where you choose to direct your energy, time and attention matters.  The "wealth of waters" that descended "from the heights" at the beginning of the poem can ascend back up "the Mount of Vision" and disappear in the "high-heaven dawn of more than mortal day".  No more of this "I'm stuck in the box with a skull" stuff.

                                        So, farewell.

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