Make your own free website on Tripod.com


MeaningS of L
ife
 

Using Philosophy in
Everyday Life

 Home ] [ Poems ] Love ] Friendship ] Happiness ] Philosophies ] Humans ] Thought ] Years ] Meaningful ] Dream ] Short ] Pain ] Death ] Heaven ] Science ] Universe ] Funny ]

            

Home
Poems about Life
Life and Love
Life and Friendship
Happiness
Philosophies of Life
The Human Beings
Existential Thought
Life Best Years
Is Life Meaningful?
Life is a Dream
Life is Short
Life is Pain
Death
Life after Death
Man and the Universe
Science and Meaning
Funny Life
Sites
 

 

POEMS ABOUT LIFE

LIFE POEMS 
The meaning of life
 
Fernando Pessoa - Existentialist poem
Emile Brontë - Lyric poem
Saint Francis of Assisi - Religious poem
Shakespeare - Hamlet’s monologue
Examples of lyrical reflections about life 


TOBACCO KIOSK
Fernando Pessoa
Life poems

Tobacco Kiosk is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary poems of the twentieth century. It’s a hallmark, very typical of Pessoa’s poetry, with its philosophical perspective and its constant questioning of the meaning of life.

I have dreamed more than Napoleon did.
I have held against the hypothetical heart more humanities than Christ.
I have secretly created philosophies no Kant has ever written.
But I am, and perhaps always should be, the one from the attic
Although I don't live in it;
I shall always be someone not born for this;
I shall always be the one who just had qualities;
I shall always be the one who has waited for a gate to open next a wall without a door
And sang the song of the infinite in a poultry-yard,
And heard God's voice in a blocked-up well.
Believe in myself? No, not in me and not in nothing.
May Nature be dissolved on my feverish head
Her sun, her rain, the wind that ruffles my hair,
And the rest, let it come if it must, it doesn't matter.
Hearts in thrall to the stars,
We have conquered the whole world before leaving our beds.
But we were awakened and it was opaque,
We rose and he was strange to us
We left the house and it was the whole world,
And also the Solar System, the Milky Way and the Indefinite...
 (…)

Eat your chocolates, little one!
Eat your chocolates!
Know there are no metaphysics in the world but chocolates.
Know that all the faiths don't teach more than chocolates.
Eat, greedy one, eat!
If only I could eat chocolates with the same conviction you do!
(…)
Fernando Pessoa, 1888-1935, Portuguese Poet, Tobacco Shop


Detailed translation of this poem.
Comments
 

See also:
Is life meaningful?
Life is a dream
Science and meaning
Philosophies of life
Life is short
Life is pain

 



LIFE
Emile Bronte

Life poems

Emile Bronte Life represents a juvenile and optimistic perspective of life.

LIFE, believe, is not a dream
So dark as sages say;
Oft a little morning rain
Foretells a pleasant day.
Sometimes there are clouds of gloom,
But these are transient all;
If the shower will make the roses bloom,
O why lament its fall?

Rapidly, merrily,
Life's sunny hours flit by,
Gratefully, cheerily,
Enjoy them as they fly!

What though Death at times steps in
And calls our Best away?
What though sorrow seems to win,
O'er hope, a heavy sway?
Yet hope again elastic springs,
Unconquered, though she fell;
Still buoyant are her golden wings,
Still strong to bear us well.
Manfully, fearlessly,
The day of trial bear,
For gloriously, victoriously,
Can courage quell despair!
Emile Bronte, 1818-48, English writer, Life


See also:
Life and Friendship
Life and Love
Philosophies of life
Happiness

 



RELIGIOUS POETRY
Hymn to Brother Sun, Saint Francis of Assisi
Life poems

Be praised, my Lord
Through all your creatures
Especially through my lord Brother Sun
Who brings the day
And the light that warms us
He that is beautiful and radiant 
In all his splendour!
St. Francis of Assisi, 1181-1226, Hymn to Brother Sun

Complete version of the Hymn to Brother Sun

See also:
Life and Love
Philosophies of life
Happiness

Death
Life after Death

 



HAMLET MONOLOGUE ABOUT LIFE AND SUICIDE
Shakespeare
Life poems

Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Shakespeare, 1564-1616, English writer, Hamlet

Full monologue

See also:
Life after Death
Death
Life is pain
Is life meaningful?
Life is a dream
Life is short


 

 

LYRICAL REFLECTIONS ABOUT LIFE AND ITS ESSENCE AND MEANINGS
Life poems

Prose can involve poetry – through the careful use of language, based on images and metaphors, speaking to our sensibility. And the examples below are excellent demonstrations of this very fact.


Out of the dark we came, into de dark we go…
H. Rider Haggard, 1856-1925, English writer, King Solomon’s Mines


Life is nothing. Life is all. It is the hand with which we hold off death. It is the glow-worm that shines in the night-time and is black in the morning; it is the white breath of the oxen in winter; it is the little shadow that runs across the grass and loses itself at sunset.
H. Rider Haggard, 1856-1925, English writer, King Solomon’s Mines


The world? Moonlit. Drops shaken from the crane’s bill.
K. Dogen, 1200-1253, spiritual Buddhist leader, in C. Sagan Billions and billions.


Poor intricate soul! Riddling, perplexed, labyrinthical soul!
John Donne, 1572-1631, poeta inglês, Sermons. 


Small errant soul, guest and companion of the body, where are you going now, pale, rigid and naked, without being able to play as before?
Hadrian, 76-138, Roman emperor, before he dies, in D. Boorstin Os criadores


As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
But the wind passes over, and soon all disappears; and his place will no more exist.
Bible, Psalms, 103


Blessings light on him who invented sleep, the cloak that covers all human thoughts, the meat that satisfies hunger, the drink for the thirst, the heat that warms cold, the cold that moderates heat, and, lastly, the common coin that purchases all the pleasures of the world cheap, the balance and weight that equalizes the king and the shepherd, the fool and the sage.
M. Cervantes, 1547-1616, Spanish writer, Don Quixote 


I expect to be in this world just this time; any good thing that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any of my fellow-creatures, let me do it now; I don’t want to defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
Often attributed to Stephen Grellet, 1733-1855, French missionary


See also:
Comments
Life quotes - Existential thought
Life is a dream
Philosophies of life
Happiness


 



ENLARGED OR FULL VERSIONS
Life poems


Fernando Pessoa
Life poems

I am nothing
I shall always be nothing
I cannot wish to be anything.
Aside from that, I have within me all the dreams of the world.

Windows of my room,
The room of one of the world's millions nobody knows about
(And if they knew about me, what would they know?)
Open onto the mystery of a street continually crossed by people,
To a street inaccessible to any thought,
Real, impossibly real, certain, unknowingly certain,
With the mystery of things beneath the stones and beings,
With death making the walls damp and men's hair white,
With the Destiny driving the wagon of everything down the road of nothing.

Today I am defeated, as if I knew the truth.
Today I am clear-minded, as if I were about to die
And had no more kinship with things
Than a goodbye, this building and this side of the street becoming
A long row of train carriages, and a whistle departing
From inside my head,
And a jolt of my nerves and a creak of bones as we go.

Today I am bewildered, as one who wondered and discovered and forgot.
Today I am divided between the loyalty I owe
To the outward reality of the Tobacco Kiosk of the other side of the street
And to the inward real feeling that everything is but a dream.
I have missed everything.
And since I had no aims, maybe everything was indeed nothing.

What I was taught,
I go down from the window at the back of the house.
I went to the countryside with grand plans,
But all I found in it was grass and trees,
And when there were people, they were just like other people
I step back from the window and sit in a chair. What should I think about now?

 (…)
I have dreamed more than Napoleon did.
I have held against the hypothetical heart more humanities than Christ.
I have secretly created philosophies no Kant has ever written.
But I am, and perhaps always should be, the one from the attic
Although I don't live in it;
I shall always be someone not born for this;
I shall always be the one who just had qualities;
I shall always be the one who has waited for a gate to open next a wall without a door
And sang the song of the infinite in a poultry-yard,
And heard God's voice in a blocked-up well.
Believe in myself? No, not in me and not in nothing.
May Nature be dissolved on my feverish head
Her sun, her rain, the wind that ruffles my hair,
And the rest, let it come if it must, it doesn't matter.
Hearts in thrall to the stars,
We have conquered the whole world before leaving our beds.
But we were awakened and it was opaque,
We rose and he was strange to us
We left the house and it was the whole world,
And also the Solar System, the Milky Way and the Indefinite...

(Eat your chocolates, little one!
Eat chocolates!
Know there are no metaphysics in the world but chocolates.
Know that all the faiths don't teach more than confectionery.
Eat, dirty one, eat!
If only I could eat chocolates with the same veracity you do!
But I think, and when I lift the silver paper of a leaf of tin-foil
I let everything fall to the ground, as I have done to my life.)

(…)
Musical essence of my useless verses,
If only I could face you as something I had created
Instead of always facing the Tobacco Kiosk across the street,
Forcing underfoot the consciousness of existing,
Like a carpet a drunkard stumbles on
Or a straw mat stolen by gypsies and  worth nothing.

But the Tobacco Kiosk owner has come to the door and is standing there.
I look at him with the discomfort of an half-turned head
And the discomfort of an half-grasping soul.
He shall die and I shall die.
He shall leave his signboard and I shall leave my poems.
His sign will die, and so will my poems.
And soon the street where the sign is, will die too,
And so will the language in which my poems are written.
And so will the whirling planet where all of this happened.
On other satellites of other systems something like people
Will go on making something like poems and living under things like signboards,
Always one thing facing the other,
Always one thing as useless as the other,
Always the impossible as stupid as reality,
Always the mystery of the bottom as powerful as the mysterious dream of the top.
Always this or always some other thing, or neither one nor the other.

 But a man has entered the Tobacco Shop (to buy tobacco?),
And plausible reality suddenly hits me.
I half rouse myself, energetic, convinced, human,
And I will try to write these verses in which I say the opposite.

I light a cigarette as I think about writing them,
And in that cigarette I savour liberation from all thoughts.
I follow the smoke as if it were my personal itinerary
And enjoy, in a sensitive and capable moment
The liberation of all the speculations
With the conscience that metaphysics is a consequence of not feeling well.

Afterwards I throw myself on the chair
And continue smoking.
As long as Destiny allows, I will keep smoking.

(If I married my washwoman's daughter
Maybe I should be happy.)
Upon that, I rise. And I go to the window.

The man has come out of the Tobacco Kiosk (putting change in his trousers?).
Ah, I know him: he is Esteves without metaphysics.
(The Tobacco Kiosk owner has come to the door.)
As if by a divine instinct, Esteves turned around and saw me.
He waved hello, I greet him "Hello there, Esteves!", and the universe
Reconstructed itself for me, without ideal or hope, and the owner of the Tobacco Kiosk smiled.
Fernando Pessoa, Portuguese poet, 1888-1935


Back to Top - Poems about life
 



Saint Francis of Assisi
Hymn to Brother Sun
Life poems

Most high, omnipotent good Lord!
All yours is praise, glory, honour
And all blessing
To you, alone, Most High, do they belong.
No human lips are worthy 
To pronounce Your name.
Be praised, my Lord
Through all your creatures
Especially through my lord Brother Sun
Who brings the day
And the light that warms us
He that is beautiful and radiant 
In all his splendour!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord
Through Sister Moon and the Stars;
In the heavens you have made them
Precious and beautiful.
Be praised, my Lord
Through Brothers Wind 
And air, and clouds and storms,
And all the weather,
Through which you give your creatures sustenance.
Be praised, my Lord
Through Sister Water;
So very useful, and humble
And precious, and pure.
Be praised, my Lord
Through Brother Fire,
Through whom you brighten the night.
He who is beautiful and cheerful
And powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord
Through our sister Mother Earth
Who feeds and rules us,
And produces various fruits
And coloured flowers and plants
Be praised, my Lord
Through those who forgive for love of you;
And endure sickness and trial.
Happy those who endure in peace
For by you, Most High, they will be crowned.
Be praised, my Lord
Through our Sister Bodily Death,
From whose embrace no living person can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Happy those she finds
Doing your most holy will.
The second death can do no harm to them!
Praise and bless my Lord
And give thanks
And serve him with great humility.
St. Francis of Assisi, 1181-1226, Hymn to Brother Sun

Back to Top - Poems about life

 



Shakespeare
Hamlet monologue about life and the suicide
Life poems

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.
Shakespeare, 1564-1616, English writer, Hamlet

 
Comments
 

Back to Top - Poems about life

Back to Home Page - Meanings of life

 

 
 

POETRY AND PHILOSOPHY



Above:
Pessoa's portrait. Fernando Pessoa's Tobacco Kiosk is a sublime poem about the meaning of life.
See detailed translation of this poem.


Commentary
Poetry and Philosophy


Poetry – either in its most common form, or in prose – often comprises an existentialist or philosophical content or trace. Much poetry glosses over life and its joys, fate, destiny, our place in the Universe, illusion, pain without reason and the cruel element of life. The specific themes vary, but to sing, to cry or to speculate - in a philosophical form - about the meaning of life is part of the repertoire of dozens of great writers.

What did Cervantes mean, when he wrote: «Blessings light on him who invented sleep, the cloak that covers all human thoughts, the meat that satisfies hunger, the drink for the thirst, the heat that warms cold, the cold that moderates heat, and, lastly, the common coin that purchases all the pleasures of the world cheap, the balance and weight that equalizes the king and the shepherd, the fool and the sage»?

Isn’t it existential philosophy, as much as poetry?

What did the emperor Hadrian do when he wrote his epitaph, on the very eve of his death: «Small errant soul, guest and companion of the body, where are you go now, pale, rigid and naked, without being able to play as before?»

And how should we classify some of the most beautiful biblical verses present in the Book of Ecclesiastes?  How should we classify the verses:
«Live joyfully with the wife whom you love
All the days of your life of vanity
God has given you under the sun,
For that is your portion in life,
Among the labour days you have to support under the sun»?

They are obviously philosophy, as much as poetry. They are existentialist poetry and they are existentialist philosophy. And to give a major modern example, we can appeal to Fernando Pessoa. Poems such as Tobacco Kiosk are not only sublime and major examples of human poetic genius. They are also major examples of existentialist philosophy. Much of the poetry of Pessoa is also philosophy.

Listen to him:
«We have conquered the whole world before leaving our beds.
But we were awakened and it was dark,
We rose and all was strange to us.»

It’s obviously philosophy. Even when he rejects it, and says:
«I savour in the cigarette the liberation of thought.
I follow the smoke like a personal itinerary
And enjoy, in a moment sensitive and capable,
The freedom of speculation
And the consciousness that metaphysic is only a result of illness.»

Or when he says:
«Eat your chocolates, little one!
Eat your chocolates!
Know there are no metaphysics in the world but chocolates.»

Declaredly, there is more philosophy in some poetry than in many assumed philosophical arguments.

We may object: but isn’t Pessoa’s philosophical theme - and all the other cited cases - too repetitive? Isn’t the poetry about the meaning of life too limited, too restricted for the transmission of banal philosophical equations? Is it possible to philosophise, in its higher sense, through poetry, without true arguments?

In a theme such as the purpose and meaning of life, yes. In this case, to understand life, to give it a meaning or to refuse it depends deeply on our feelings, perhaps more than on our reason... 

Profundity can be intimately connected to beauty, to art, to novelty, to the ability of the writer to touch our souls, our joy, our sadness, our astonishment, or his ability to open new horizons of awareness, rather than just abstract reasoning and argument. That’s why poetry and literature can be major vehicles of philosophising.



 

Copyright Eduardo Reisinho & MeaningsOfLife.com All Rights Reserved.