Friday, May 20, 2011

Life Explained, Part Sixteen: "Balloonland"

In my previous post, I considered the danger of Schadenfreude.  Any number of old saws counsel caution on that front.  At this very moment, each of us is skating on thin ice, each of us is at risk of having our bubble burst, et cetera.  The cracking of the ice or the bursting of the bubble may be self-inflicted or may be a matter of Fate, but humility seems well-advised.  Consider the following whimsical (perhaps too whimsical for some) poem by Christopher Reid.


In Balloonland
is given a balloon
the day they are born.

Freshly blown-up
and with the knot tightly done,
a big balloon
is put into their hand.

A few words are spoken
by way of ceremony:
'This is your balloon,
the balloon of your destiny!
You are its guardian.
Do you understand?'

And it's no use arguing.
Red, blue or green,
yellow, purple or orange,
that's their balloon
and no one else's.
They are the owner.

So as time goes on
they watch their balloon
with increasing anxiety.
Can it be shrinking?
Is it less shiny?
What's that hissing sound?
Did they do something wrong?

Futile questions!
Some balloons
pop the day they are given,
others last aeons
just getting more wizened.
If you're looking for a reason,
goes one of Balloonland's
wisest sayings,
then apply your own pin.

Christopher Reid, In the Echoey Tunnel (Faber and Faber 1991).

                            Stanley Spencer, "The Roundabout" (1923)

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