izhilzha (izhilzha) wrote,

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A thought for the day

...brought to you by Richard Adams, from Watership Down.

One of the first, and cruelest, tests that Hazel and his rabbits face after leaving their warren is being tricked into staying at Cowslip's warren--a big, beautiful place too empty for its size, where the rabbits make art and sing and are well-fed and gorgeous, but also sad, strange, and more than a little terrifying to Hazel's seer brother, Fiver. But Hazel and the rest won't listen to Fiver; they're tired of running and want to stay put.

The last straw is when they gather with the rabbits of the warren and learn that these rabbits don't like the old, traditional stories of El-ahrairah and how he tricked the enemies of rabbits. Instead, Cowslip's people prefer stories about their own lives in the warren. One of their poets, a wild-eyed young buck named Silverweed, speaks.

It's a beautiful poem, talking of fate and death and longing in terms of sky, water, earth and sunlight, in spiritual terms. He ends:

Frith lies in the evening sky. The clouds are red about him.
I am here, Lord Frith, I am running through the long grass.
O take me with you, dropping behind the woods,
Far away, to the heart of light, the silence.
For I am ready to give you my breath, my life,
The shining circle of the sun, the sun and the rabbit.

Fiver is both attracted and repulsed by this performance. It almost sounds like something Fiver himself might write, were he a poet instead of a seer, and yet....

Trying to explain why they must leave the warren NOW, Fiver babbles to Hazel. "You felt it, then? And you want to know whether I did? Of course I did. That's the worst part of it. There isn't any trick. He speaks the truth. So long as he speaks the truth it can't be folly--that's what you're going to say, isn't it? ....Did I say the roof of that hall was made of bones? No! It's like a great mist of folly that covers the whole sky: and we shall never see to go by Frith's light anymore....A thing can be true and still be desperate folly, Hazel."

That, right there. "A thing can be true and still be desperate folly."

I think that's not something we, especially perhaps those of us who are artists, always remember. It is good to tell the truth (of experience and of knowledge), but even truth must be sorted for its meaning, for how true it is and in what way, and for whether it should affect us or not. If Fiver had fallen for Silverweed's truth, they might have stayed in the warren and died one by one. But because Fiver recognized that truth, and the folly that accepting it would have brought, they escaped.

I wonder what truths I have accepted that are desperate folly.
Tags: contemplative, poetry, quotey

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