Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tear: An Assay

A great philosopher is born, walks his lifetime's allotment of footsteps, and dies, but while he is living he has the demeanor and body and voice of a great clown.   Each of his propositions is heard, but met with snorts, guffaws, and the wiping of tears of laughter from the eyes.  Or perhaps it is the reverse: A great comic is born, walks the earth, and dies.  But her demeanor and body and voice are such that people listen gravely, they nod in silence at her words, are moved to weeping by the feelings her thoughts cause to rise.  The composition to tears of laughter and tears of grief is not, it seems, the same, though the tongue cannot tell this.  Different still the tears of outrage, or the tears that come from a misplace dust mote, errant eyelash, of flake of soot.  Each brought to the earth a great if different pleasure.  Each died unsatisfied and angry, though this too is not perceived.   And where does the mistake lie, if a mistake is granted at all?  In the person who refuses an inescapable fate, or in those who shed at his works their tears of subtly erroneous composition?

~ Jane Hirshfield
art by aiden-ivanov