A Drunkard – by Ko Un”
I’ve never been an individual entity.
Sixty trillion cells!
I’m a living collectivity.
I’m staggering zigzag along,
sixty trillion cells, all drunk.
This simple little poem so beautifully illustrates the principle of coherence that permeates life and might even be described as life itself. Disparate phenomena somehow miraculously “cohere” and an identity is formed, or born. Without taking pause and contemplating we will spend our lives thinking we are an “individual entity” when actually we are a small part of a broad fabric, so “broad” that actually it is infinite. At this very moment you are witnessing the result of the drunken “sixty trillion cells” that I call myself, an entity or identity whose “drunkenness” is somehow contained enough that I am writing coherently. I hope!!!! Grasping and understanding the wisdom offered in this poem makes us aware of our profound finitude which is given meaning only when we contemplate that we are part of a larger whole. But the ego does not want us to understand this, demanding that we remain submitted to its tyranny and bask in the comfort of assuming and therefore thinking that “my view of the world is the only valid one.” W. H. Auden captured this wisdom in his poem, “In Sickness and in Health,” an excerpt of which I offer here:
Rejoice. What talent for the makeshift thought A living corpus out of odds and ends? What pedagogic patience taught Preoccupied and savage elements To dance into a segregated charm? Who showed the whirlwind how to be an arm, And gardened from the wilderness of space The sensual properties of one dear face? Rejoice, dear love, in Love's peremptory word; All chance, all love, all logic, you and I, Exist by grace of the Absurd, And without conscious artifice we die: O, lest we manufacture in our flesh The lie of our divinity afresh, Describe round our chaotic malice now, The arbitrary circle of a vow. That reason may not force us to commit That sin of the high-minded, sublimation, Which damns the soul by praising it, Force our desire, O Essence of creation, To seek Thee always in Thy substances, Till the performance of those offices Our bodies, Thine opaque enigmas, do, Configure Thy transparent justice too.
For complete poem, see this link: https://thepoetrycollection.wordpress.com/w-h-auden-1907-1973-in-sickness-and-in-health/
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