Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 4. NOTHING LESS THAN ALL, by EDWARD CARPENTER



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TOWARDS DEMOCRACY: PART 4. NOTHING LESS THAN ALL, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: All, all - and nothing less than all
Last Line: And shall be content with nothing less than all.
Subject(s): Identity; Self-satisfaction


ALL, all—and nothing less than all.
Ever men say: Here lies the truth, There lies the truth—Take this,
cast that aside—Throw in thy lot with us—We are the wise, the rest are
fools.
But I am as one dumb—I try to speak, to say what is in my mind, but
words fail me.
I go with these wise folk a little way, and then I draw back again; I throw
in my lot with them, and then alas! I throw in with the fools.
I stultify myself, and am like a thing of no shape.

The fault is mine, that I cannot say what I want to say—I cannot for
the life of me answer the questions that are continually being asked.
Is it for pleasure and the world and the present, or for death and
translation and spirituality, that we must live? Is it for asceticism and
control, or for ingenuity and sweet enjoyment?
Does the truth lie with the East or with the West—with Buddhists and
the followers of Lao Tsze, or with those who span seas and rivers by bridges and
wing aerial flights by machinery?
Is it best to be an idler or a worker, an accepted person or a criminal?
Shall the town be my home, with its rush of interests and sympathies, its
fascinations and magnetisms of the crowded pavements?
Or the country, with its gracious solitude and the pure breath and beauty
of the air and the fields?
Shall I give my life (how gladly!) to my one, my only lover—absorbed,
we two, our days, in single devotion to each other—
Or shall I pour it out upon a hundred and a thousand beautiful forms (so
beautiful) to spread from them as in an ever-widening ring to others?
Which is the most desirable or useful trade—to be a musician, or a
geologist, or a navvy? to work laughing and joking with one's mates in a big
workshop, or to walk at the plough-tail all day in the quiet landscape under the
slow changes of the weather and the clouds?

To be a mathematician tracking in one's study the hidden properties of
curves and closed figures, or an astronomer noting the star-transits on which a
nation's time-reckoning depends?
To be a file-forger with hooved palm sweating before one's fire in summer,
or a cobbler cursing the brittleness of his wax in winter?
Or a potter or a moulder or a parson or a prostitute or a town-councillor?
Is it better to be surly and rude, or sympathetic and suave, to be
quick-tempered or patient, hot-blooded or cold-blooded, 'cute or simple, moral
or immoral?
To join the society for the suppression of Vice, or to be one of the
persons to be supprest? to be partial to drink, or to be a teetotaler?

For the life of me I cannot answer all these questions—I acknowledge
that I am a fool.
Sometimes with this inability to take sides comes a strange terror of
losing all outline, of losing my identity, my proper consciousness, everything;
Till I think of the Present and the work I have actually to do—and
then comes relief;
Then instantly everything is decided—one's place, and the part one has
to play—nor is there any doubt whatever about the next move.
For the moment I am pledged to this or that
Yet I feel that in the end I must accept all,
And shall be content with nothing less than all.





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