Wednesday, August 18, 2010

First Lesson About Man (A Few Words For Wednesday)

I've been engrossed in exploring the life and work of my new friend John C.H. Wu. Is it any surprise to you that he corresponded with Thomas Merton? How could he not have, is what I say. And I found some evidence that he did, of course. Merton wrote the introduction to John's book The Golden Age of Zen. In fact, John writes this about their friendship,

There is no telling how much the friendship of this "true man" has meant to me during all these lonely years of my life.

See, practically bosum-buddies! And I also posted a thank you to Pink Floyd this week. Working on that, coupled with the knowledge that my friends John and Father Louis were correspondents, jogged my memory of one of Fr. Louis' poems.

First Lesson About Man

Man begins in zoology.
He is the saddest animal.
He drives a big red car
Called anxiety.
He dreams at night
Of riding all the elevators.
Lost in the halls
He never finds the right door.

Man is the saddest animal.
A flake eater in the morning
A milk drinker.
He fills his skin with coffee
And loses patience
With the rest of his species.
He draws his sin on the wall
On all the ads in all the subways.

He draws moustaches
On all the woman
Because he cannot find his joy
Except in zoology.
Whenever he goes to the phone
To call joy
He gets the wrong number
Therefore he likes weapons.

He knows all guns
by their right name.
He drives a big, black Cadillac
Called death.
Now he is putting
Anxiety into space.
He flys his worries
All around Venus
But it does him no good.

In space, where for a long time
there was only emptiness
He drives a big white globe
Called death.
Now, dear children, you've learned
The first lesson about man.
Answer your test:

Man is the saddest animal.
He begins in zoology
And gets lost

In his own bad news.

I was getting the wrong number for a while too. How about you? Perhaps St. Anthony had something to do with helping me find the right number as well!

Take a look at this video for the full reading of the poem and a montage that works pretty well with it. The poster writes,

This surreal poem is from The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton. I thought the paintings of Giorgio de Chirico provided an interesting perspective (as it were) on the poetry.

I agree.