Sunday, February 14, 2010

'darkly wise, rudely great'

Let's face it: I'll not be 'that young philosopher' forever. And this blog needs a little spit and polish.

So I'm giving a new title a trial run: 'darkly wise, rudely great'. It's from Alexander Pope's poem 'Essay on Man', first published in 1733.

As an atheist, I can't agree with Pope's cheery deism. But his vision of man's 'middle state' rings true with me. If you're interested, here's a longer passage from the poem:
Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,
A Being darkly wise, and rudely great:
With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side,
With too much weakness for the Stoic's pride,
He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest;
In doubt to deem himself a God, or Beast;
In doubt his mind or body to prefer;
Born but to die, and reas'ning but to err;
Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
Whether he thinks too little, or too much;
Chaos of Thought and Passion, all confus'd;
Still by himself, abus'd or disabus'd;
Created half to rise and half to fall;
Great Lord of all things, yet a prey to all,
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl'd;
The glory, jest and riddle of the world.

8 comments:

Dan said...

G'day Day,

Surely "That Young Philosopher" can remain valid for your whole life: Literally true at first, then pun-wise true, then ironically true.

cheers,

-dan

PS -- Best wishes to Ruth.
PPS-- The word verification asked me to spell "demon". Spooky. Almost.

Damon Young said...

I take it you don't like my new title?

Yes, there is the pun/irony thing. But it wears thin - I'd like the title to have a little more suggestion to it.

And thank you for good wishes, EVIL DEMON - MY INTERTUBES ARE EQUIPPED WITH JOSH WHEDON SENSORS TO STALK YOU AND SLAY YOU.

Gondal-girl said...

man, if I could get away with being young pun wise even for a long time, I would milk it - 'rudely great' is hard to translate like Milton wrote it I think- yet I like the new title too -

Gondal-girl said...

sorry, Pope that great ol' hairdresser !

Damon Young said...

Perhaps the pun's less wearying for readers.

I wonder if just 'darkly wise' would do?

Gondal-girl said...

to my mind Darkly wise sounds like a goth band...forgive me, I have had sleep, coffee and some writing time - so am delirious!

Emma Kirsopp said...

well, I had better change the title on my links section then... (great title for your blog)

Beautiful and moving words in the poem too.

Damon Young said...

I'm glad someone's changing their link! Thanks, Emma.

And happy you like the title.