Monday, January 25, 2010

Narcissus As Nero

Development of the Soul

who we are--

1st the blueprint in our genes
that gives and takes possibility,

2nd family & culture,
each of which seeks to structure the possibility,

and 3rd the decision-maker within
who first wakens in the infant
and learns quickly to fuss till conditions improve,

I am intrigued as I watch a one-year-old,
pushed by self and pushed by us
to declare wants, choices,
the “I” quick to get to “no,”
and we? dogged to get movement forward
as we limit choices and push them to proffer preference,

too many of us want our development to stop there
with freedom just a word that means selfishness
and we want to see others become us
so we export an infantile culture of self-indulgence,

yet I am also intrigued by a one-year-old
who freely offers a treat, a toy to another,
who decides to model a sister, a parent,

who feels happy in relationship, in connection,
who tempers self-indulgence with a dawning realization
of limits,
of sharing,
of larger and larger selves with interests,

and the tempering makes the metal of the self even stronger,

the wheel should turn,
from that time early on
when we need to gaze into the reflection of ourselves
and love and act for that self,
to when our gaze sees larger & larger selves to love
and for which we should act,
and then self-gratification can be of the soul more than of the senses,

I fear Narcissus, too, would fiddle while Rome burns.

by Henry Walker
January 22, 2010

1 comment:

Bill said...

Henry, I liked this a lot but your last line swings the poem's trajectory, did you really want to keep it?