NEGATIVE CAPABILITY

The difficulty of all things
is at the heart of a child,
impatient at being told what to do,
who longs to be grown up and take
his rightful place in the world, never
guessing how atoms, configuring differently,
change the mist through which he flies

(You cannot live for another person,
define yourself in terms of other people.
Yet all major religions say service to others
is the highest human purpose.
So Keats’ “negative capability”—the ability to
hold two contradictory thoughts in one’s mind at
once—is equivalent to Orwell’s “double-think”:
“War is Peace,” “Freedom is Slavery.”
The simplest things conceal complexities
that in their turn collapse to unity...
I wait for the word to appear like a pearl
on your tongue that I may gently hold
between my lips, at the same time unable
to imagine glittering constellations of your mind),

always taking on faith eternal verities
of mother and home, believing that he will forever
stay rooted among rocks and trees, stately clouds
passing overhead, syncopated patter of rain,
never imagining or quite believing
the difficulty at the heart of all things.

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