Take Anguish for Companion
If the one absolute is suffering,
And if the only absolute is doubt,
From these alone belief must be wrung
Or else the bitter poverty found out:
Take anguish for companion and set out.
It leads us back to man himself, to sit
Down by his side whom we have killed and starved;
Brother and sister, criminal and half-wit,
For each of us there is a place reserved,
To sit beside the one we have not served.
Wake as he dreams, dream as he wakes, to see
Man always at our side, starving and weeping,
Curved like a mother over his misery,
Huge and abandoned like a giant sleeping,
And we ourselves this creature we are keeping.
But if we dare to keep anguish companion,
We feel spring in our throats a living song,
See man leap from the rocks toward the sun,
Refuse to be imprisoned for too long,
His anger storming at the walls of wrong.
He is suddenly willing joy instead of power;
Shaken to the marrow by joy as by a flame,
Bending with mad delight toward a flower,
Secret and tender, violent, he came
Up from the darkness toward his haunting name.
He is the one who always sings and cries,
Believes, in spite of every proof, he will
Out of the darkness see with clearer eyes,
Conquer himself and learn to be an angel,
Who finds his only peace within the struggle.
For to be desperate is to discover strength.
We die of comfort and by conflict live
Who grow in this knowledge till at length
We find it good, find it belief enough
To be anguish alive, creating love.
– May Sarton