Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Child is father of the Man

By X. Z. Shao
A poem just written. While teaching Wordsworth, I was asked to explain the puzzle of his line in the poem My Heart Leaps Up, see below. I further speculated it and here is what out of my mind.

I had been bothered by the Wordsworth’s line
like so many others, but it was no longer a riddle
when I held my newly-born child in my arms.
I had been so human, a little too human,
and this hailed humanity had almost done me in.

My child drew me back to the animal kingdom
where there are no gods, no art, no rigid faces.
His smile in sleep made me ashamed of
being conscious even in front of him.
He was with Dao, in Chan, a natural gift,
while my job was to bring him down
to learn insidious, dark human techniques.

To survive in human way, you have to
dismantle a temple enshrined in a child.
What we are proud of as education
is actually leading a monkey from its habitat
to the city jungle of concrete buildings
where it is forced to perform tricks to amuse.
Picking up a spot of sunshine on the floor,
who would engross himself in doing that?
That is far beyond a machine operating for gains.
A mountain became a ruin fast
when an ore is found, and the ore
needs to be burned and melted with woods
cut down like hairs from a shaved head.
In Isengard where all trees are hewed,
Orcs are manufactured to the Middle Earth.
If the earth were populated with adults just like that,
then, what man would make of man?
Every child born to this earth, said Tagore of India,
is a reminder that God has not forsaken the world.

Generations after generation of children
bring adult world back from the verge of abyss.
While their power of healing being diminished,
our callous hearts are injected with drops of dews
which are elixirs concocted by the Invisible Hands.
We shed the hard and dry skin of a snake  . 
Aragon having returned as the king leads his subjects
bowing down to the childlike creature, Frodo,
who is the only one capable of resisting the Ring.
Then, parents of the wise world, should you
also all kneel down to your infant children
who have the only power to nourish you
back to normality as your sustainers at their cost?


My Heart Leaps Up
By William Wordsworth

My heart leaps up when I behold
  A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
  Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

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