Poets & Philosophers Again, Richard Rorty
This is not because I fear having missed out on truths that are
incapable of statement in prose. There are no such truths;
. . . Rather, it is because I would have lived more fully if
I had been able to rattle off more old chestnuts —
just as I would have if I had made more close friends.
Cultures with richer vocabularies are more fully human — farther
removed from the beasts — than those with poorer ones;
individual men and women are more fully human
when their memories are amply stocked with verses."
- Richard Rorty. "The Fire of Life." Poetry (November 2007)
Rorty wrote this toward the end of his life, acknowledging at the same time that none of the philosophy he'd read offered any solace in the face of his untreatable cancer. I suspect he is correct. My experience over the past seven months reminds me of how little there is in my own work that might help ease the pain and sorrow of losing my son. I read poetry some but cannot recite any 'old chestnuts'; I suppose that is what notations and book marks are for. When I come back to a book of poems I find the ones that initially touched me in one or another way beause I've marked them. But once the book is closed again I cannot recall for long particular verses.