Exploring life without Providence

Ulysses

As no one tied me to the mast,

I dove in headlong, swimming swiftly

To the nearby rocky shore,

To be dashed against the stones,

 

Tossed by churning waters

Back and forth, in frothy foam,

Drawn by voices indistinct,

Disjointed, stretched by violence,

 

Disoriented where the waves fell

Hard on boulders’ jagged edges;

Lost, my former goal, my purpose,

In this urgent need: survival.

 

Where were now my boon companions

Whom I might have charged to bind me?

How had I abandoned them,

And let my yearning overwhelm

 

All my training, all my wisdom,

What experience had shown

Must inevitably follow,

Following my yearning heart?

 

Now I strove to make some sense of

Where I am, of what confronts me

How to exercise control of

All my strength, establish bearings

 

That will let me choose a handhold,

Hold a jagged edge of boulder

Flexibly, just long enough

To thrust myself up free of swirling,

 

Tossing forces that would dash me

To disjointed pieces if I

Let them overwhelm my strength,

My purpose, vision, goals — my future?

 

Now above the cliff, surveying

What determined strength has won me,

Calm, reflecting on the struggle,

Turn and set my foot ahead.

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