July 7th, 2006
|05:53 pm - Something to ponder|
by Thomas Edward Brown
If thou couldst empty all thyself of self,
Like to a shell dishabited,
Then might He find thee on the Ocean shelf,
And say — "This is not dead," —
And fill thee with Himself instead.
But thou art all replete with very thou,
And hast such shrewd activity,
That, when He comes, He says — "This is enow
Unto itself — 'Twere better let it be:
It is so small and full, there is no room for Me."
Current Mood: pensive
I don't think that's entirely true. We don't empty ourselves of "self" so much as we empty ourselves of "me first." There's a difference. We allow God to direct what we are, but he more makes us truly ourselves than overcomes what defines us. If that makes sense.
Whoa. Heh. I never thought this poem could be read that way. Hmm.
First off, it's not comprehensive theology. It's just a poem; just one small facet of the God/human experience.
For another, though I would agree with your statement were I arguing about the self and God, that's not what the writer is doing. I probably should have thought to put his era; Brown wrote this in the 18th century. They didn't use "self" then to mean all-that-makes-us-unique. I think he's using it here in a way much closer to the New Testament's "old man" or "the flesh."
To be "full of yourself" is an idiomatic way of saying arrogant, but it could very well also mean someone who is simply "me first," as you say. And that's exactly what Brown says ("This is enow/Unto itself; twere better let it be./It is so small and full,/There is no room for Me."), abeit in a more archaic and poetic manner.