To Hear Us Talk

Robert Frost (from New Hampshire):

On a Tree Fallen Across the Road
(To Hear Us Talk)

The tree the tempest with a crash of wood
Throws down in front of us is not to bar
Our passage to our journey’s end for good,
But just to ask us who we think we are

Insisting always on our own way so.
She likes to halt us in our runner tracks,
And make us get down in a foot of snow
Debating what to do without an ax.

And yet she knows obstruction is in vain:
We will not be put off the final goal
We have it hidden in us to attain,
Not though we have to seize the earth by the pole

And, tired of aimless circling in one place,
Steer straight off after something into space.

§        §        §

Johann Georg Hamann (from Golgotha and Sheblimini; translated by Kenneth Haynes):

However, suppose that there is a social contract: then there is also a natural one, older and more genuine, and the conditions of the natural contract must be the basis of the social one. Through it all natural property becomes conventional again, and man in the state of nature becomes dependent on its laws, i.e., positively obliged to act in accordance with the very same laws which all of nature and especially the nature of man has to thank for the preservation of existence and the use of all means and goods contributing to it.  Since man bears duties to nature, he accordingly has least of all an exclusive right to and hateful monopoly over his abilities, neither to the products thereof, nor to the sterile mule of his industry and the sadder bastards of his usurping acts of violence over the creature made subject, against its will, to his vanity.

Not to him, not to him alone, is the moral capacity to make use of things as a means subordinated, but rather to those laws of wisdom and goodness which light our way in the immense kingdom of nature.  All the conditions under which the predicate “felicity” may belong to the subject “duty-bearer” are invested in him as such and not as one who holds a right through the law of nature and the law of natural justice and of his own reason.  He therefore has neither a physical nor a moral capacity for any other felicity than the one intended for him and to which he is called.  All the means which he makes use of to attain a felicity not given to him as a blessing are a heap of natural offenses and decided injustice. All lust to improve one’s existence is the spark of a hellish turmoil.

This entry was posted in Animal theology, Frost, Robert, Hamann, Johann Georg. Bookmark the permalink.

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