Poet Appreciation: #4 George Santayana
Quick–what teacher did Conrad Aiken, T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, and Wallace Stevens have in common? *Jeopardy muzak plays softly* If you answered George Santayana you either are a verse warrior or you clued in on the post title.
Santayana, a Spanish-born American, was a philosopher, essayist, novelist, teacher, and poet. Receiving his PhD from Harvard he joined the faculty in 1889. In 1912 he moved to Europe and must have liked it because he never returned to the states. Santayana, thought to be an important influences of critical realism, became part of what is known as the Classical American Philosophy. He died in 1952.
There may be chaos still around the world
by George Santayana
There may be chaos still around the world,
This little world that in my thinking lies;
For mine own bosom is the paradise
Where all my life’s fair visions are unfurled.
Within my nature’s shell I slumber curled,
Unmindful of the changing outer skies,
Where now, perchance, some new-born Eros flies,
Or some old Cronos from his throne is hurled.
I heed them not; or if the subtle night
Haunt me with deities I never saw,
I soon mine eyelid’s drowsy curtain draw
To hide their myriad faces from my sight.
They threat in vain; the whirlwind cannot awe
A happy snow-flake dancing in the flaw.
Unless I am way off base, I think this is the complex version of Bobby McFerrin’s hit ditty “Don’t Worry. Be Happy.” I hear in this poem how the world can be swirling and whirling about us, yet we can cocoon within ourselves and remain blissfully at peace. I prefer the happy llama mode: humming along in life.