The first poem for this day links in part to the second, because if you ever find yourself above the parapet, being in the public eye, it will soon pass.
But the hatred and complaints will linger. The critics will dissect your words.
I was talking with Kea. That some days I want to move to Stewart Island, where there is the internet, 500 people, howling gales, and Kiwis calling most nights. Because there I could be quiet.
Because this is a time of crisis, and I have duties to others.
I cannot leave. But I mistrust fame.
Fame is a fickle food
Upon a shifting plate
Whose table once a
Guest but not
The second time is set.
Whose crumbs the crows inspect
And with ironic caw
Flap past it to the Farmer’s Corn –
Men eat of it and die.
Dickinson never married and is now a feminist ikon. She did not want this, but she did not want Christ overmuch. Herbert gave up honour and fame and academic prestige to marry, become a vicar, and serve and obscure parish.
In both cases, their health gave out.
MY heart did heave, and there came forth, O God!
By that I knew that thou wast in the grief,
To guide and govern it to my relief,
Making a scepter of the rod:
Hadst thou not had thy part,
Sure the unruly sigh had broke my heart.
But since thy breath gave me both life and shape,
Thou knowst my tallies; and when there’s assign’d
So much breath to a sigh, what’s then behinde?
Or if some yeares with it escape,
The sigh then onely is
A gale to bring me sooner to my blisse.
Thy life on earth was grief, and thou art still
Constant unto it, making it to be
A point of honour, now to grieve in me,
And in thy members suffer ill.
They who lament one crosse,
Thou dying dayly, praise thee to thy losse.
George Herbert, 1633
You can go from being lauded as a sporting hero to a hospital bed, in this time, faster than you think. Fame is fickle, and fitness is easily lost.
TO those without Christ this is without meaning: the response is that of the stoics — more than the Buddhists, who denied the reality of one’s experience. Those with Christ see this as a means of learning. So that we can be more like him.