The oldest hath borne most: we that are young,
Shall never see so much, nor live so long.
Tuesday, October 24, 2023
#297 / We That Are Young
Pictured above is Jacob Fishel playing Edgar in a production of Shakespeare's King Lear, as presented by Theater for a New Audience.
King Lear, in my estimation, is one of Shakespeare's greatest plays. I was pleased to be able to see the play this past summer, performed by Santa Cruz Shakespeare, with Paul Whitworth playing an incomparable Lear.
It is Fishel's photo I feature, though, not Whitworth's, because one line from the play keeps bubbling up from somewhere deep within me, and that line, found in the play's Act 5, Scene 3, belongs to Edgar:
As the end of this year is advancing upon us, I am ever more justified in playing my "old guy" card. I have one of those "big birthdays" arriving soon, and more and more, as time advances, Edgar's line "speaks to my condition," to quote a Quaker phrase.
Not so long ago, I urged any person who might read my blog to listen (and probably not for the first time) to Peter, Paul and Mary, singing a song originally sung by Pete Seeger, "Where Have All The Flowers Gone." If you click that link to the title of the song, you'll be able to hear Pete Seeger sing it. His rendition, perhaps, is even more powerful than the moving presentation I featured earlier. Both versions brought me to tears.
Edgar's words are not an "old guy's" words. As one of the "old guys," though, Shakespeare's words, as stated by Edgar, keep bubbling up into my mind.
I have lived what has been a long and wonderful life. I am thankful for it, for everything! But is it really true that those who are young "shall never see so much, nor live so long?"
Oh, no! Please let that not be true!
It is my wish, for those who are young, that they will not see (though I am afraid they might) the arrival of that war doom that has been threatening us all, for my whole life. It is my wish that the young will not see the continuing and progressive destruction of this beautiful Earth, a destruction that we are carrying out ourselves, we who ultimately depend upon this Earth that is our home.
Edgar's speech combines, in my mind, with what Pete Seeger sang, and with what Peter, Paul and Mary sang. The song (in that frame) poses a question, at least so it seems to me, and the answer to that question can animate actions that have the ability to transform our current reality, and to change the future.
We who are old (and we who are young) all know the question.
And that question is not: "When will we ever learn?" We already know.
The question is: "When will we ever change?"