Sunday, March 2, 2014

For Poetry Sunday, this is from Renee who heard it from her 12th grade history teacher and has stuck with her since.

When you get all you want and you struggle for pelf,
and the world makes you king for a day,
then go to the mirror and look at yourself
and see what that man has to say.
For it isn't your mother, your father or wife
whose judgment upon you must pass,
but the man, whose verdict counts most in your life
is the one staring back from the glass.
He's the fellow to please,
never mind all the rest.
For he's with you right to the end,
and you've passed your most difficult test
if the man in the glass is your friend.
You may be like Jack Horner and "chisel" a plum,
And think you're a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you're only a bum
If you can't look him straight in the eye.
You can fool the whole world,
down the highway of years,
and take pats on the back as you pass.
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
       if you've cheated the man in the glass.
                       Dale Wimbrow, (c) 1934               


Peter H of Lebo said...

Kinda of relevant to the post, met a patient on the psychiatric ward last week who believe he was possessed by satan and said he could see the devil in his reflection.

"whose verdict counts most in your life
is the one staring back from the glass."

Not the best mirror judge for the patient, maybe if he wore a fonzie mask...(joking aside, incredibly debilitating and awful disease).

Big Myk said...

I used to think that this was sort of a dopey sentiment: the stuff of curbstone philosophers. After all, Shakespeare gives the "tedious old fool" Polonius the line, "To thine own self be true."

But now, having read the poem, I see a profound aspect to it. It seems that we answer to the man in the glass because we must. It is simply irresponsibile to turn over our choices to someone else. As I've stated before, there is no Nuremberg defense in heaven, regardless of the apparent lawfulness or legitimacy of one's orders.

Bonhoeffer says that, for the responsible person, "neither the purity of the motivation, nor the opportune circumstances, nor the value, nor the significant purpose of an intended undertaking can become the governing law of his action, a law to which he can withdraw, to which he can appeal as an authority, and by which he can be exculpated and acquitted." In other words, we have no choice but to look to the man -- or woman -- in the glass.

James R said...

If Pete only had Bonhoeffer around to help treat his patient.

That's a joke, but it also lends to seriousness. The patient has a long, hard road to get his view of himself (currently satan) to be a responsible person.