Original Poem: "Not Content to Languish" with Commentary

Updated on March 27, 2020
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Writing poetry became my major composing activity circa 1962, & Mr. Malcolm Sedam's creative writing class in 1963-64 deepened my interest.

Earth in Hands

Source

Introduction and Text of "Not Content to Languish"

This American or Innovative sonnet employs an altered version of the Italian (Petrarchan) sonnet: instead of an octave and a sestet, it features two septets, without a rime scheme. Its message will resonate with folks who have experienced sorrow in their lives: totally happy campers need not bother! A slightly different version of “Not Content to Languish” appears in my collection titled Singing in Soul Silence: Voices of Faith.

(Please note: The spelling, "rhyme," was introduced into English by Dr. Samuel Johnson through an etymological error. For my explanation for using only the original form, please see "Rime vs Rhyme: An Unfortunate Error.")

Not Content to Languish

I am not content to languish
In this play land of dreams,
Though You provide me beautiful toys:
A thirsty mind, a hungry heart,
People to love and to love me,
And You have sent my Master to let me know
That I am an immortal soul.
Before I knew, I cringed at sorrow and pain
And raged and sulked like a victim.
But they are not mine, says my dear Master.
Only You art mine,
And You have promised my immortal soul
That it will meet You face to face.

Commentary

This sonnet serves as a command from the poet to the poet herself. The Shakespeare sonneteer devoted an entire section of his sonnets (Muse Sonnets 18-126) to this same endeavor: a personal investigation into his psyche for the purpose of self-improvement.

A cheeky paraphrase might sound like this: Don’t be fooled by worldly desires! Use your nature-given, Reality-Created brain and you will discover a world that gives you all you need, all you want, all you could ever stand to possess. When morning looms, bring it!

First Movement: No Satisfaction

I am not content to languish
In this play land of dreams,
Though You provide me beautiful toys:

The speaker asserts that she is unsatisfied with the boredom and routine that becomes the lot of adults on this Earth in this world of mayic dualism. The pairs of opposites such as hot/cold, yes/no, happy/sad, good/bad become obsolete to reality as a person matures, yet physics and reality appear to remain in control to the unrealized sufferer. Even learning in school that not everything is black or white, but varying shades of gray, the observant human specimen soon becomes annoyed, befuddled, and just plain tired of all the grayness those still operative pairs foist upon one. The problem is not lack of knowledge, especially details; it is the lack of true knowledge and operative principles: “seeing is believing”—not so much. Humans pay homage to “love,” “hate,” “happiness”—three qualities that are obviously not “seeable.” Thus, becomes squelched another life-controlling cliché, akin to the widely accepted falsehood that “life is not fair.”

Second Movement: Knowledge from the Spiritual Guide

A thirsty mind, a hungry heart,
People to love and to love me,
And You have sent my Master to let me know
That I am an immortal soul.

The lucky speaker acknowledges that she has a spiritual guide, who has imparted to her the knowledge that she is "an immortal soul." Does that knowledge help? If you know that after you die, you do not cease to exist, do you care? What difference does that make—at this point or any other? Do you continue your trek on your same path of eating, sleeping, procreating, socializing, voting, and thus and sundry other activities? Do you climb that mountain, swim that river, run that marathon, write that book, eat thus and sundry, have that second, third, or fourth child, go to Vegas? Whatever you decide will yield you the most fun, power, or plain satisfaction?

Third Movement: Delivery From at the Human-Created Bad Situation

Before I knew, I cringed at sorrow and pain
And raged and sulked like a victim.
But they are not mine, says my dear Master.

The speaker admits that before she knew she was an immortal soul, she engaged in rage, causing her to sulk and mope, and she considered herself a “victim” by all of life’s trials and tribulations.

Have you seen much sulking like victims lately? Or “raging”? Think of all the protest marches the social order has endured over the course of history. Have they truly improved social conditions? Imagine instead of protests that the protesters had stayed in their place and meditated, praying to their Divine Protector for wisdom, patience, and guidance in how to behave to effect the desired societal change they so desperately needed.

The Blessed Creator of each soul would have no choice but to grant such a concerted effort for so much concentration. The One who created us surely wants only for us to turn our effort toward the One—despite cynics and skeptics. Look at how Gandhi liberated India from the British!

So much effort, time, and treasure are spent in “taking" what we think we need, when according the saints, giving love, respect, and gratitude to the Creative Force is all it takes to change a human-created bad situation. All the negative, bad, inconvenient, unsavory, bitter things and experiences of the Earth do not belong to us. Even our lousy behavior in the past does not belong to us. As Sri Yukteswar admonishes:

Forget the past. The vanished lives of all men are dark with many shames. Human conduct is ever unreliable until man is anchored in the Divine. Everything in future will improve if you are making a spiritual effort now.

Fourth Movement: Living in the Promise

Only You art mine,
And You have promised my immortal soul
That it will meet You face to face
When its stillness becomes Itself.

The final movement reveals the truth that this speaker has known but apparently failed to fully appreciate at the time of this piece: the Maker of Souls has promised to connect again with Its creations. But there is a stipulation: the created soul must make the effort unite with the Creator/Maker.

How does the created entity unite with its Creator? In loving and appreciative stillness, because that stillness leads to unity with the soul. The soul then comes to know Itself—the Divine Spark that is the individual soul. No longer concentrating on the details of the world of maya, but going deep within to the stream of life that is streaming into each being, as it travels this mud ball planet of Earth, each human individual experiences the soul’s unity with the Over-Soul, becoming free at last.

Questions & Answers

    © 2016 Linda Sue Grimes

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