Tuesday, May 22, 2018

"Eternity" by James F.W. Rowe

"Cycle" Watercolor & Ink on Paper
By J. Artemus Gordon
James F.W. Rowe

Ponder your eternal state
Knowing that what once thinks
Shall never cease to be
Think also of your sufferings
And your joys
Remembering that all which is
Has been
Again and again
And shall be once more
Where then is heaven?
Where then is hell?
In every moment
     In every moment

You have already endured

Poet’s Notes:  This poem is something of a philosophical exposition on the nature of eternity, drawing upon similar themes that are touched upon in Nietzsche. It also expands upon the oddest thing I am willing to believe as part of my metaphysical commitments to an eternal, infinite universe--that everything has existed, or will exist, has already occurred an infinite number of times before, and will again. Given that I also affirm the eternity of the soul—that is, its pre- and post-existence, ala Plato in the Phaedo—we have thus experienced all things before and will experience them again without end. 

The consequence is that, in a sense, both heaven and hell are contained in every moment. Our eternal bliss and our eternal suffering are both experienced simultaneously, given that all such experiences are contained in this endless repetition of the possibilities of existence. We are living right now in both heaven and hell.

The poem is a fairly straightforward expression of the above themes, with the slightly Cartesian "knowing that what once thinks / shall never cease to be". The notional reference to both joy and suffering and their eternal experience blends with the idea that heaven and hell are to be found in every moment. The last verse, set off from the rest in its own stanza, is a reminder that everything has already been endured. Whether for good or for ill, you have already survived it. This poem was made in a single burst of inspiration and later slightly adapted to refine the message.

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