Anxious Poets Society
Dear T.S. Eliot
Dear T.S. Eliot,
I've seen the greatest minds of my generation destroyed by the lure of the esoteric, comfortable distractions from reality, the dull and ordinary comforts of monotony and security, the lofty ideals of white picket fences around homes with partners who are mere scholars of trivia. Potential greatness reduced to a dull catalogue of common things, the lot of them are.
I fear the same pitfall awaits me as I sink into despair ever so slowly, without company - without peer, not the goldfish that surround me. It's a glum lot all alone at the top of the food chain.
The Royal we makes awful bed fellow after a life of solitude. All the men and women I'd rather keep are dead. Either they have burial plots or just an absence in my life. Or perhaps it is I who has died in their thoughts? Regardless, it's a long fall from this ivory tower and I can't be certain that the impact and injury will be worth the company.
How does one summit that tower once more with broken bones? All of the rungs were painstakingly built. There is no elevator to lift me back to the peak. The peak... Such a misnomer. It's rather low, or so it feels. I may be looking down upon them all but there is not a soul looking up to me.
Perhaps I'm too high and they cannot see through the clouds so why bother straining the eye? There is no point and I don't blame them.
It's pleasant to see the occasional bird fly by even if it pays me no mind. Some perch themselves on my balcony from time to time and it's lovely but they don't stay long.
I built a ladder with the books of dead poets and philosophers. A ladder to climb to this same tower as I imagine they, too, marveled in the view. A view where you could always watch the sun rise and never set, bask and become completely lost in the landscape below. The climb may have been writ in verse and prose, but the perch was not as poetic.
I climbed to sit upon a throne of knowledge. However much or little as I had, I'm unsure now. But it was then mine, heavy, burdensome, and I had to bear it. "There is no knowledge that is not power." Thanks, Ralph, but Uncle Ben would have an apropos rebuttal for some. What becomes of that power when it becomes unwieldy? Should it be forgotten? I don't believe so. Rather, it should be passed down to the next generation who has the spine to use it responsibly. In good faith, of course, but with a warning; it must be read by the candlelight of history. Of Man's atrocities and virtue.
The torch you pass must be illuminating to those who bear this birthright and obligation. Choose wisely. For as long as Man is and will be, He will be virtuous and He will be wicked. Let there be light, shade, and blackened shadow. Let there be balance.
We must leave the world be. Leave it as we inherited it, lest we become as I have; a darkened stain of cynicism that requires many years and many maids to wash. Though, the responsibility of my mark is mine and mine alone. I'll spend my remaining days bleaching that cursed spot to absolve this Earth of my wrongdoings. Only finished, may I go.
Our legacy will be left in stone but new hands will hold the chisel to continue our story. There must be an ending. A choice. Security in the already ventured or the toiling trail of opportunity with which can be etched forever a better tale.
Security of a self-constructed pedestal is just that. Security. Not happiness, rarely contentment. Just mediocrity, loneliness, and misanthropy pushing closer and closer to the bottomless pit of nihilism from which I am never climbing out. The fall to mankind at least had a bottom but the next step, the lowest road, it has no exits, no bottom, if not even of rock. Until all that remains is a hushed, softening cry.
"This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but a whimper."
Dar'st you climb as I have? Dar'st you fall as I fell? Dar'st you step that final step with me? Should you choose, answer hastily that I may grip your hand and feel something... Human.
Stephen J Dawson Jr is a paranoid schizophrenic poet and prose writer from NYC who spends his leisure keeping bees, smoking cigarettes, and drinking to excess. Poetry has proven to be the most effective treatment of his psyche.
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