Wednesday, October 1, 2008

#86 Wednesday Words--Work and Bufonidae

This is Wodnesdaeg, after all, a day that can legitimately be earmarked for a little WISDOM, maybe even some not my own (see #75). For Anglo-Saxon Woden (G. Wotan, O.N. Odin), Beowulf's god, besides being Allfather of everything (the Germanic Yahweh), he was especially revered for his Wisdom, which he attained at a terrible price. To drink from Mimir's Well and thus gain the knowledge of past, present, and future, the god had to sacrifice one of his eyes. (I'm only 80% blind in my Right, darn it.) No wonder, henceforth, that one of his epithets was: Grimm. That ordeal made him, as well, Divine Master of magic, prophecy and poetry. Here are two poems I've chosen (on the occasion of a Special Person) with thoughts on the quotidian world of Work. Enjoy:

by Philip Larkin

Why should I let the toad work
Squat on my life?
Can't I use my wit as a pitchfork
And drive the brute off?

Six days of the week it soils
With its sickening poison
Just for paying a few bills!
That's out of proportion.

Lots of folk live on their wits:
Lecturers, lispers,
Losels, loblolly-men, louts--
They don't end as paupers;

Lots of people live up lanes
With fires in a bucket,
Eat windfalls and tinned sardines--
They seem to like it.

Ah, were I courageous enough
To shout Stuff your pension!
But I know all too well, that's the stuff
That dreams are made on:

For something sufficiently toad-like
Squats in me, too;
Its hunkers are heavy as hard luck,
And cold as snow,

And will never allow me to blarney
My way of getting
The fame and the girl and the money
All at one sitting.

I don't say. one bodies the other
One's spiritual truth;
But I do say it's hard to lose either,
When you have both. (1954)

He was a librarian all his life--to finance his poetry, but also, though not at one sitting, his fame and girl and money. Note: the word "Stuff" in the fifth stanza made this Blogman an English major. I'll come back to that, and the poem, later, but meanwhile here's another view:

Work by Confucius

Choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life. (500 B.C.)

Easy for you to say, Kung Fu Tzu. Quite often circumstances leave us little choice in appeasing Larkin's inner Toad. By the bye, the toad/frog has semi-sacred status in China and southeast Asia, only slightly lower than snake and dragon. One never know ....

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