We are all born fools, then grow up (more or less)
and do as we are told, and put away
childish things. This one didn’t.
Look at him: a poet, flower in hand,
full of unrequited love for all the world.
He doesn’t have to become a child again
to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
There’s another deck – an older one –
which shows a bare-arsed tramp:
a fool for Christ, preaching Amor perhaps,
in the teeth of Roma: without love you are
as sounding brass, a clashing cymbal. Speaking out
(like Paul) though he face sticks and stones, the stake.
The first’s the fool who leaps before he looks;
no angel’s a fool.
The second has died to this world; folly indeed,
not only to the Greeks.
A third’s the fool who writes in verse –
these verses, all these verses! –
“I am two fools, I know:
for loving and for saying so
in whining poetry.” (John Donne)
Another, of course, the fool who reads it – you!
(I greet you!)
And then there’s the old fool (no fool like him)
the once proud oh-so-grown-up
man of gravitas, now with no pride left,
no dignity …
In the end, all of us.
We are all born fools and we all die fools –
stepping, eyes closed, out of the cave
or off the high board into infinity.
© James Munro