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In Memoriam: Santayana

GeorgeSantayana108 words

Of all with whom I shared a common sky
none told this truth with more persuasive art
on those high themes whose burden makes us men
than one who spoke in dialogues from limbo.
Far voyager in the realm of disenchantment,
cartographer of countries of the mind,
late messenger from the golden age of Hellas,
ironic dreamer, skeptic saint, glad seer:

How may one thank in fitting terms the maker
of new and taller windows of the soul?
I turn my transient eyes without and see
the world’s great ghostly wheels of change reduce
our mortal homes to essences eternal —
the terror and the grandeur, all within.


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One Comment

  1. Dr ExCathedra
    Posted March 24, 2016 at 1:17 am | Permalink

    I find some of him very congenial.

    “I had heard many Unitarian sermons (being taken to hear them lest I should become too Catholic) and had been interested in them so far as they were rationalistic and informative, or even amusingly irreligious, as I often thought them to be; but neither in these discourses nor in Harvard philosophy was it easy for me to understand the Protestant combination of earnestness with waywardness…”

    And this, especially:

    “The liberal school that attempts to fortify religion by minimizing its expression, both theoretic and devotional, seems to be merely impoverishing religious symbols and vulgarizing religious aims; it subtracts from faith that imagination by which faith becomes an interpretation and idealization of human life, and retains only a stark and superfluous principle of superstition.
    For meagre and abstract as may be the content of such a religion, it contains all the venom of absolute pretensions; it is no less cursed than the more developed systems with a controversial unrest and with a consequent undertone of constraint and suspicion…In such a spectral form religious illusion does not cease to be illusion.

    Mythology cannot become science by being reduced in bulk, but it may cease, as a mythology, to be worth having.”

    A touching elegy at his best friend’s death:

    “And I scarce know which part may greater be –
    What I keep of you, or you rob from me.”

    And my favorite, the playful anti-Shahada of an aesthetic Catholic unbeliever:
    “There is no God, and Mary is His mother.”

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