Poet Miller Williams died not long ago here in town. He wrote this, about compassion:
Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don’t want it. What appears bad manners, an ill temper or cynicism, is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone.
I find a lot to love, or not to love, in that short wonderful poem.
For one thing, google “spirit meets the bone.” You will find that an album of that name, by daughter and country-rock star Lucinda Williams, gets a lot more play than her dad’s poem does.
Bugs, looking for justice. He will probably not find it out there.
I love the phrase “no ears have heard, no eyes have seen.” It speaks to that enormous, so-often-unsatisfied need to be understood. Which need can be so neglected, our despair about its lack so great, that we might even end up thinking we don’t want any.
I will not despair, yea even when the boys are more interested in OutTV than they are in me.
Interestingly, the phrase shows up in Corinthians 2:9. But best of all, Bottom says it in Midsummer Night’s Dream, IV:1, as he wakes from the dream of himself as donkey and Titania in love with him. He says about that dream, in the goofed-up way with which Shakespeare pokes so much affectionate fun:
“[M]an is but a patched fool if he will offer to say what methought I had. The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report what my dream was. I will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of this dream. It shall be called ‘Bottom’s Dream,’ because it hath no bottom.”
Ah Shakespeare, who hath no bottom.
I was thinking about this because the coat-stand on which I rely, due to insufficient closets, finally gave up the ghost. (The connection may not be immediately apparent.) Those who have followed this blog for a really long time might remember that Bugs had something to do with this giving up of the ghost.
But considering that Bugs did that back in May 2011, I’d say the coat-rack gave good value over its long life. Especially since I scavenged it in the first place. You would never catch me buying base-metal curlicues voluntarily.
The final straw was a new jacket I got for the holidays. Here is the poor old coat-rack in a tangle on its last splayed curlicued legs, propped up to half its height while I shopped for its replacement. You can just see Barney, peeking out from underneath the purple jacket. He appreciated the reduced version because he could jump out onto Bugs from under it, whenever the spirit moved him.
My point is, even coat-racks need something to lean on.
The boys are learning this.
Probably it’s the cold weather, rather than any deep philosophical understanding.
As far as needing someone to lean on goes, for us humans, I like the great Bill Withers’ take of the same name. It is one of the most covered songs ever. Here’s himself, doing a somewhat lugubrious version.
I would offer you this other version, because it’s more upbeat, but for some reason whoever posted it put Al Green’s picture on it.
Bugs concludes there’s just no telling, with humans.