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A Question Of Balance

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Below is the poem entitled A Question Of Balance which was written by poet Keith Bickerstaffe. Please feel free to comment on this poem. However, please remember, PoetrySoup is a place of encouragement and growth.

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A Question Of Balance

...a tribute to Hermann Hesse and his novel 'Narziss Und Goldmund.'

Two friends in early childhood when their lives were worry free,
each pursued his own direction to fulfill his destiny.
One was tempted by the devil to devote his life to greed,
debauchery, dissimulation, he embraced each sinful deed.

He ingratiated himself with the wealthy, bedding courtesans and Queens, 
all the while maintaining strict discretion, gaining riches by deception and guile.
 From palace to palace he traveled, always escaping detection,
'til he tired of all of the cheating and lies, and spent time in devoted reflection.

Much older now, his skills were not the sharpest,
no longer did he yearn for wealth and fame,
he became disconsolate, and longed for peace and solace,
a return to the village where they called him by his real name.

Meanwhile the other spent his time in isolation,
became a monk and took a vow of silence,
as part of a brotherhood he was content,
rarely, if ever, was he called upon for penance.

He left his cell each afternoon to tend the Bishop's garden,
tilling and weeding the flowers and plants,
in the evening he could be heard singing, 
embroidering the hymns with soaring descants.

Asceticism is a doctrine that requires self-denial,
taken in excess it lays a burden on the soul,
a burden which in retrospect is seen as self-defeating,
what steps can be taken to ensure the soul is whole?

The two men reunited in the village where they spent
such happy times in playful animation,
examining their practices they sought an end to their excesses,
too much praying and playing required a strict examination.

In the midst of life's continuum to maintain a happy medium,
play and prayer and work and everything in equal measure,
the Greeks had a phrase for it ~ 'Nothing In Excess,'
a phrase we would all do well to contemplate, and treasure.


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  1. Date: 3/6/2013 2:03:00 PM
    Keith, i'm impressed with the way you pinned and offered the beauty of this tribute... always~ LINDA