October 22, 2000 ~ Passion Lodged with Me Useless
When I consider how my light is spent,
E're half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide,
Lodged with me useless...
John Milton knew he was destined to write the great English epic poem. He knew he had a talent within to write amazing verse. Yet he had spent years and years in service to the government, failing to work on the poetry that was his passion. And now, he was going blind. He would soon be unable to write, and he feared what would happen if he did not fulfill his destiny.
John Keats wrote madly, plagued by the idea that he may not be capable of finishing all the poems he had in his head before he died. At twenty-three, he wrote the following poem:
When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high piled books, in charactry,
Hold like rich garners the full ripen'd grain;
When I behold upon the night's starr'd face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the fairy power
Of unreflecting love;—then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.
John Keats died three years later. He never got a chance to let his "pen glean his teeming brain." Is there a writer in existence who does not share the fears of these two greats?
I know I have a passion within that sometimes comes to life when I sit down to write. I can bring a reader to shining, glorious heights or gloomy, despairing depths. But I don't. I haven't.
Where is my poetry? Where are those living breathing growing characters? Where is that epic novel? Those stirring stories? Each of them, every one, is still in my head, yet to be released. Why? Because I am too busy writing other things. Things for classes, things for my professors. Assigned writings, not my passions.
I suppose this is a writer's curse. To never be done. To be always at work, in an attempt to liberate those poor characters trapped in a human mind, a medium not readable by the world. I want to share my stories, my passions. But first I must finish this or that. In my case, it is school. In Milton's case, it was service to his country. In Keat's case, it was service to that ultimate overseer, death.
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