In the last week, I have become intimate with a slim, early volume of John Masefield’s poetry. Some of them are directly related to the next poem in line, but mostly they just follow themes of death, beauty, and mystery, asking the largest questions about why we are here, what is our future after death, and what are the limits to what we can know.
What is this atom that contains the whole,
This miracle that needs adjuncts so strange,
This, which imagined God and is the whole,
The steady star persisting amid change?
What waste that smallness of such power should need
Such clumsy tools so easy to destroy,
Such wasteful servants difficult to feed,
Such indirect dark avenues to joy.
Why, if its business is not mainly earth,
Should it demand such heavy chains to sense?
A heavenly thing demands a swifter birth,
A quicker hand to act intelligence;
An earthly thing were better like the rose,
At peace with clay from which its beauty grows.