At the recent St. Patrick’s Day concert at the Kennedy Center, the Irish Ambassador was invited to share a ritual he follows. Every day the ambassador tweets out a poem written by an Irish author. He chose to read one by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939). By coincidence I saw this Yeats poem in a display case celebrating National Poetry Month:
The intellect of man is forced to choose
perfection of the life, or of the work,
And if it take the second must refuse
A heavenly mansion, raging in the dark.
When all that story’s finished, what’s the news?
In luck or out the toil has left its mark:
That old perplexity an empty purse,
Or the day’s vanity, the night’s remorse.
As I transition to “just a member” status this philosophic statement raised two questions. Are life and work (The Choice) truly separate? And, how hard is it to make something worthwhile that will last?