Monday, September 22, 2008

Even in a palace life may be led well!

So spake the imperial sage, purest of men,

Marcus Aurelius. But the stifling den

of common life, where, crowded up, pell-mell,

Our freedom for a little bread we sell,

And drudge under some foolish master's ken,

Who rates us if we peer outside our pen,--

Matched with a palace, is not this hell?

Even in a palace! On this truth sincere

Who spoke these words, no shadow ever came;

And when my ill-schooled spirit is aflame

Some nobler, ampler stage of life to win,

I'll stop, and say, "There were no succor here!

The aids to noble life are all within."

This difficult poem by Matthew Arnold, who is one of my favorite poets, that for the most part I can rarely understand, but when I do, I just love his mind.

In this poem he speaks about a quote by Marcus Aurelius, another great Greek philosopher from the past who you simply must read if you haven't. In this poem by Arnold he refers to him as imperial sage, purest of men, who no shadow ever came, which is pretty high praise for a mortal man. But Aurelius, whom I first became acquainted with by the encouragement of the Puritans who all read his thought, certainly had an enlightened mind and if he had become a Christian, the world can only imagine how he may have moved it. In this quote, Aurelius implies that wealth is an equal disadvantage for the soul, with its prosperity, gluttony and temptations. Arnold concludes with the point of the quote-- the Battle is within, and there we will find the answers to happiness, not in wealth or poverty. A tried and true theme for all religions and philosophies. But so well put in this poem.

Picture taken from the internet.


Mel said...

Hi Fred,

This post reminds me of Joseph's recent post about the people in his country who earn a living by selling their wares streetside. He said that they live with simple contentment and trust in God, and are not bound by all of the worries and fears that are common to us. I've thought about that so many times. I love the house we live in. Indeed it seems as though it were built especially for us.

But with all that square footage comes an awful lot of work if we're going to take care of it the way we should. It takes 2 days to weed the yard and trim the shrubs. It takes 6 hours to clean the bathrooms. It takes four hours to vacuum the entire house. As much as I love the house and neighborhood, there are many times when I wonder what it would be like to live more simply again, even if it meant more crowded conditions.

Many Blessings!


FCB said...

Hi Mel, yes, that was such an interesting post of his, and a great illustration of this quote.
I sympathize with you regarding the care and upkeep of a home.
Actually, just living in our culture brings so many entanglements. Car ownership with all the costs associated with it. Well, I had better not begin but suffice to say I work hard at trying to simplify life, no easy task, but an ingredient I add to the mix, which is intolerable to some, is compromise. I can look at undone tasks and live with them. I'm not lazy, but there is more work at home for me at this season of my life than I'm able to stay on top of, so I don't. I prioritize and let the trifles go.
I am also trying to get my granddaughters to do a greater portion as well. It is good for children to share and those on the farm work far harder than most city kids. They seem to be the better for it. I began giving allowances to the girls when they were young, requiring them to put one third away for their future, never to be spent until they hit forty; one third for charity, and one third to save up for wants and to learn to be a frugal shopper.
Learning to make money work for you can never be taught to soon, even if it's a thirty cents a week, and it can motivate children to help around the home more.
God bless,