Friday, 26 April 2013

Four Last Things

Death, judgment, heaven, hell.

Karl Rahner writes somewhere to the effect that most men do not reach a spiritual level in this life worthy of being judged.

I.
He was enjoying another good argument,
His brain as active as the froth on his beer.
His hand was busy declaiming,
Cranking his face into pictures of moral commitment.

He was cold and sweating, shrunk inside the skin of himself.
His final argument lay in his mouth like saliva.
Death with a small black pin was striding through the air:
He had left it too late to discover what he really thought.

II.
He had left it too late to discover what he really thought.
The human heart descending slowly in a pair of scales –
The musty creature sprouting feathers and nestling in the dust –
Was this what judgment was?

He had read many newspaper articles,
And had taken the Book of the Month regularly;
But none of this had seemed to prepare him
For the questions now being asked.

III.
For the questions now being asked
Good God I thank you.
I know what I think about other people’s motives
And it is a joy to be able to hold forth.

Who would have thought that heaven was so simple,
That I could encompass it all in a witty phrase?
What with the beer and the women and the one howling bore
I am having the time of my life.

IV.
I am having the time of my life,
Though I am troubled by a vision like a face behind cloth.
Somehow I have lost my cheerfulness
But I win all my arguments and drink much wine.

To be as convivial now as I was in the past
Is something that puts hairs on my chest.
I am not sure if this is heaven and I do not much care,
I have reached my “summum bonum”. Do I dream?

====================
© December 1979

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