I don't agree
Knowing much must give way sooner
or later to the knowing of
much less, then nothing, like the lunar
cycle, full moon first, then half,
then crescent, and then, disappearing,
when there's no moon at all, until
the moon returns. So, I am fearing,
are all our minds, which first we fill,
not realizing that we forget
first minor parts of what we learned,
then more and more, as if we set
on fire knowledge that once burned
so brightly that we never thought
it might escape us like a tune
that cannot by the mind be caught
because it has to wane, like moon.
They say that Moses was the sun
compared with Joshua whose cresCent
reflects how knowledge is undone,
the past diminished by the present.
Moses, paradigm of noon,
is whom we look towards when gaining
in years, while children like the moon
all wax and shine throughout our waning.
Before our role in life is finished
we flicker sadly like a star,
and like the moon become diminished,
to be not what we were, but are,
but though we know far less than what
we knew when like a full moon we
shone brightly, I am happy not
with what I've written to agree.
Zadie Smith reviews Joseph O'Neil's Netherland and Tom Carthy's Remainder in the NYR, November 20,008 ('Two Paths for the Novel') . The article begins with a quotation from one of my favorite poets, Wyslawa Szymborska ('The End and the Beginning') :
Those who knew
what was going on here
must give way to
those who know little.
And less than little.
And finally as little as nothing.
gershon hepner's Other Poems
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