After Dipping Into the Summa Contra Gentiles

To truth, it seems to us, life once was nearer,
The world ordered, intelligences clearer,
Wisdom and knowledge were not yet divided.
They lived far more serenely, many-sided,
Those ancients of whom Plato, the Chinese,
Relate their incandescent verities.
Whenever we entered the temple of Aquinas,
The graceful Summa contra Gentiles,
A new world greeted us, sweet, mature,
A world of truth clarified and pure.
There all seemed lucid, Nature charged with Mind,
Man moving from God to Him, as He designed.
The Law, in one great formulary bound,
Forming a whole, a still unbroken round.
But we who belong to his posterity
Seem condemned to doubt and irony,
To journeys in the wilderness, to strife,
Obsessions, and longings for a better life.

But if our children’s children undergo
Such sufferings as ours, they will bestow
Praise upon us as blessed and as wise.
We will appear transfigured in their eyes,
For out of our lives’ harsh cacophonies
They will hear only fading harmonies,
The legends of an anguish often told,
The echoes of contentions long grown cold.
And those of us who trust ourselves the least,
Who doubt and question most, these, it may be,
Will make their mark upon eternity,
And youth will turn to them as to a feast.
The time may come when a man who confessed
His self-doubts will be ranked among the blessed
Who never suffered anguish or knew fear,
Whose times were times of glory and good cheer,
Who lived like children, simple happy lives.

For in us too is part of that Eternal Mind
Which through the aeons calls to brothers of its kind:
Both you and I will pass, but it survives.

– Hesse

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