Lessons From Poems: Man Has Created Life

Nor dread nor hope attend

A dying animal;

A man awaits his end

Dreading and hoping all;

Many times he died,

Many times rose again.

A great man in his pride

Confronting murderous men

Casts derision upon

Suppression of breath;

He knows death to the bone—

Man has created death.

Death by William Butler Yeats

This simple, twelve-line poem by W. B. Yeats strikes at an important truth about mankind which is stated in the very last line of the poem, “Man has created death”. Meaning because we are conscious creatures who need to understand life, we have separated the natural occurrences of life into labels and ideas, one such label being that of death. By labeling death and being aware of death we have also given birth to dread and its opposite, hope.

Other animals aren’t conscious as human beings, which is why Yeats says:

Nor dread nor hope attend

A dying animal

They don’t understand death which is why they don’t dread it like humans do and neither do they understand possibilities which is why they don’t hope as humans do.

This idea of manmade problems has been prevalent for centuries. The Stoics believed that people suffered more in imagination than they did in reality. This results from being conscious. We can actively control how our life is shaped and what we can achieve, but we are also aware of what isn’t in our control and what is the natural course of existence. Many anxieties and fears stem from consciousness because we aren’t dumb animals without awareness. Our mind lingers in the past or in the future, areas which we have no influence on. At the same time, consciousness allows us to overcome those anxieties and fears by focusing on the present moment and improving the current situation. This is what I take from the following lines:

Many times he died,

Many times rose again.

Each time we bow to our fears, a part of us dies, but each time we overcome a fear, we are reborn. Rise again as a better version of ourselves.

However, such growth only comes from acceptance. Accepting that death is inevitable and acting regardless of that eventuality. Regardless of your fears and anxieties, regardless of pressure and stress. This is how a man becomes great.

A great man in his pride

Confronting murderous men

Casts derision upon

Suppression of breath;

A great man is someone who knows death but doesn’t fear it. He is willing to confront it and do the right thing even though it may result in him losing his life. “Confronting murderous men” could be taken literal and we can applaud the honorable individuals who do so or, it can be taken as symbolic and applied to life, confronting life, rather than cowering/suppressing from the unknown and unpredictable aspects of life.

The opposite of death is life. If man has created death, then he has also created life, his own life. Meaning that because we are conscious animals, we may be burdened by our knowledge of death but we are also relieved by our knowledge of life. Specifically, our ability to give meaning and purpose to our own lives which can overshadow death. And in doing so, find a sense of comfort with the eventuality of death because each individual has the opportunity or perhaps even a responsibility to take on the dread and hope associated with being alive.

 

Poem: The Changing Self

As the world changes with technology, so does the concept of self,

the real you is pushed to the background,

replaced by a digital self which is fixed and filtered,

shared only with ideal proportions which match what you wish you looked like,

encouraging the mind to imagine a different you,

a you whose edges have been buffed out,

whose nose has been fixed,

with touched up smiles,

to match the fake projection of yourself.

 

All for the likes,

for the fake love, self or otherwise,

the false care,

the double-tap of insecurity,

the lack of likes makes self-loathing thoughts,

the abundance of likes reinforces the fake self,

the self is driven by ego to be liked,

the self which overshadows the real you,

the real self which craves disconnection,

so it can connect with itself, with you.

 

But the buzzing phones,

the bright screen,

the technology to connect,

keeps the self from connecting,

and with time,

it creates a hollow self,

but the heart notifications hit like a heroin needle,

the instant dosage of gratification,

and for that moment,

this thing, this self on the web, is happy,

so are you,

as you evolve into this blend of muscles, tendons, blood, zeros and ones, wavelengths, and coding formula.

 

Poem: Man, The Creator

Before the self-hate, self-love, self-care,

before the self-awareness,

before the self-consciousness,

man was part of nature,

an animal without dread or hope.

 

The initial drop of awareness sent ripples throughout the mind,

ripples that colored the world,

vibrant with pain and suffering,

magnetic with death and destruction,

dynamic with love and care.

 

Simple realities of life now labeled,

now dreaded, now hopeful,

now feared, now craved,

detached from nature.

 

Man stands head and shoulders above the other beings,

the head constantly looking over the shoulder,

look for death,

his creation,

man is God.

Poem: My Heart Beats

Someday I’ll quit the race and listen to my heart,

someday my heart’s beat will silence my desires,

someday I’ll commit to myself,

someday I’ll move to the woods.

 

The patient rhythm of nature,

matches my own beating heart,

the warm blood, the warm rays,

the deep inhales of cool wind,

the red roses, the violet petals, the deep green grass blades,

no concrete gray,

the stars above, fresh dirt underneath, me in between,

a man, an animal, a combination of the two halves.

 

For now, amongst the honking sounds,

amongst the curses, amongst the hustle,

amongst the smoke, amongst the drunk,

amongst the paper, amongst the ego,

my heart beats softly, pleasantly,

knowing that its counterpart is out there,

like a lost lover,

knowing that someday it’ll be reunited,

waiting for common sense to seep into my mind and limbs,

until then, with patience, my heart beats.

 

Poem: Burning Bridges

In between chaos and order hangs a bridge made of old wood and old rope,

the planks creak and moan under the pressure of footsteps,

back-and-forth man walks,

hovering between the two possibilities.

 

Tipped towards the dark by forces outside of him,

the chaotic unfolds the center and he falls apart,

his world, his mind, his heart consumed by anarchy,

which turns to arson,

burning away the innocence,

burning away the old bridge,

its charred remains fall into the abyss,

the whites of mans eyes look out through the darkness that shrouds him,

the heart is lost,

the limbs move in an erratic manner,

striking whatever is in its way,

transferring the pain, the hate, the chaos to whatever he touches,

he goes from a being to a man, to an animal and now to an It.

 

Behind the eyes the embers of order burn,

less so than before,

they search for the savior, thinking that the savior is out there,

somewhere,

for the disturber of the balance was external,

mistaken in this belief, the lost are never found.

 

The Spiritus Mundi aimlessly walks inside of man,

waiting to be held, waiting to be guided, waiting to become the guide,

in this disorder, what is required isn’t logic,

reason doesn’t build the bridge again,

the beast with the lions body must be tamed and upon it,

the mans head is placed,

and through such a harmony, a fusion of man and beast, the bridge is remade,

through such surrender, balance is restored.

 

But it’s easier said than done, like all things,

no one wants to let go of chaos,

it serves as an out,

a way to let go of responsibility,

a way to blame,

a way to survive,

no one wants to admit that the darkness is comforting,

that those thoughts are pleasing,

happy in the emptiness,

lost in the chaos,

happy in the chaos,

why be born again?

why restore the order?

why go through the pain?

 

Senseless beasts roam around,

intelligent fetus’ crawl around,

erratic and thoughtful,

misery and miserable,

only see a few who are beings,

those few are constantly struggling to stay whole,

as all around them is fire,

burning bridges,

and the flame is so alluring.

 

 

Poem: Out of Sight

The flowers bloom out of sight,

the sun rises out of sight,

the sun sets out of sight,

the gathering clouds, the soft rain, the waving grass blades,

nature’s call,

out of sight, out of sight.

 

She sits by herself, her

shawl wrapped around her, comforting

cotton material, what

she needs is the comforting touch of her fellow being, but

pride is damming, also

the lack of awareness is prevalent, as

man goes about their day.

 

Men with diamonds around on their wrists,

women with diamonds around their necks,

her eyes avoiding her own reflection,

as people double click the pictures on injustice on their phones,

sipping on their drinks,

while she thirsts for aid.

 

Too many animals walking around, not

enough humans, too

many concerned about themselves, their

own looks, their own bank account, their own desires, not

enough who can empathize with the desperate others, even

though everyone knows the desperation, and

in their own time of desperation craved another’s compassion.

 

“How are you?”

“Are you okay?”

She talks to herself,

answering herself,

practicing a smile,

to match that of the surrounding people,

so she feels part of the crowd,

and not alone,

as she sits alone,

out of notice,

out of care,

out of sight,

wandering animals around her.

 

Poem: The Passage of Permanence

The passage of time,

The passage of worries,

The passage of sadness,

The passage of happiness,

The passage of love.

 

Nothing is permanent,

desires change, hopes change, I change,

some changes come with a hope of permanence,

this new me will stick around, hopefully,

other changes come with the hope of immediate change,

finding myself in lows of life,

hoping like the flip of a coin it can turn around,

thinking if I will even remember what I hold dear now.

 

The days go by and it’s the next year,

older I get the more desperate it seems,

desperate to become someone,

this never used to be a concern of mine but is now,

even this desperation will pass, when

I either succeed (even that will pass),

or when I fail (even that will pass),

either way, something new will take over for the time and that too shall pass.

 

Just like the good times with hearty laughs,

just like the bad times with teary eyes,

the passage is permanent,

I am not,

So, smile some, try some, love some, cry some, fail some,

and in the end, I know I’ll be alright,

for the next passage awaits.