Sunday, September 13, 2009

The inmates have taken over the asylum*

-by Robert Service 
One said: Thy life is thine to make or mar,
To flicker feebly, or to soar, a star;
    It lies with thee—the choice is thine, is thine,
To hit the ties or drive thy auto-car.

I answered Her: The choice is mine—ah, no!
We all were made or marred long, long ago.
    The parts are written; hear the super wail:
“Who is stage-managing this cosmic show?”

Blind fools of fate and slaves of circumstance,
Life is a fiddler, and we all must dance.
    From gloom where mocks that will-o’-wisp, Free-will
I heard a voice cry: “Say, give us a chance.”

Chance! Oh, there is no chance! The scene is set.
Up with the curtain! Man, the marionette,
    Resumes his part. The gods will work the wires.
They’ve got it all down fine, you bet, you bet!

It’s all decreed—the mighty earthquake crash,
The countless constellations’ wheel and flash;
    The rise and fall of empires, war’s red tide;
The composition of your dinner hash.

There’s no haphazard in this world of ours.
Cause and effect are grim, relentless powers.
    They rule the world. (A king was shot last night;
Last night I held the joker and both bowers.)

From out the mesh of fate our heads we thrust.
We can’t do what we would, but what we must.
    Heredity has got us in a cinch—
(Consoling thought when you’ve been on a “bust”.)

Hark to the song where spheral voices blend:
“There’s no beginning, never will be end.”
    It makes us nutty; hang the astral chimes!
The tables spread; come, let us dine, my friend.


*unsure of origination of quote



Nancy said...

I couldn't agree more - your title says it all.

bfk said...

Hi Lydia,
Sometimes I can't figure poetry out. The way I read it, Robert Service believes there's no free will? Does that mean those teabagging bozos can't help themselves?

Aww... "We're pleading not guilty due to the extenuating circumstance that we're morons."

Which reminds me of a wonderful New Yorker article by Ian Frazier. One day his wife called him "an idiot." He spent the entire essay proving in fact that he was NOT an idiot, but rather a "sufferer of idiocy."

He doubted his wife would understand, though. It's just too easy to "blame the victim."

kj said...

hello lydia, how fun to come here and find poetry! i can't say why, but my reading this led me to an old axiom: 'trust in god but tie up your camel.'

and not one to believe in coincidence, what the heck does this have to do with my new post? nothing? something?


Darlene said...

Sounds like the poet is a fatalist. Heredity or environment, the parents will be blamed.

I prefer to think that there are things we can't change, but we can change ourselves.

And the inmates are running the asylum.

Lydia said...

@Nancy- I also agree with the title, and I'm seeing it all over the Web so we're not alone!

@bfk- Yes, this is one of those poems that I wish I could discuss with the poet. I read it the same way as you, and in no way do I think this excuses the jerks for their behavior (if fate outweighs free will, which I don't think it does). I liked the poem for its grasp on mob behavior and I do agree with him that "cause and effect are grim, relentless powers" but not necessarily powers that we cannot change.
Loved the Frazier article in a nutshell.

@kj- The axiom that came to your mind suits this perfectly, I think!
Loved your post; I went over as soon as I read your comment and replied there.

@Darlene- I prefer to think that there are things we can't change, but we can change ourselves.
That's perfectly said.

That asylum is getting too comfy for those inmates again. They're full of themselves, all puffed up with pleasure having found other nuts like themselves out there on the street. It's time to rein them in and shut down the asylum!



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