“It’s all empty, empty,” he said to himself. “The sex and drugs. The violence, especially.” So he went down into the world to exercise his virtue, thinking maybe that would help. He taught a little kid to build a kite. He found a cure, and then he found a cure for his cure. He gave a woman at the mercy of the weather his umbrella, even though icy rain fell and he had pneumonia. He settled a revolution in Spain. Nothing worked. The world happens, the world changes, the world, it is written here, in the next line, is only its own membrane— and, oh yes, your compassionate nature, your compassion for our kind.
Copyright © 2018 by Vijay Seshadri. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 1, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“I wrote ‘Enlightment’ because I was thinking about the state of the world, which people do these days more than they used to, I suspect. I can’t say, of course, that the poem adds anything to our understanding. It was the feeling of the thinking that I wanted.”
Vijay Seshadri was born in Bangalore, India, in 1954 and came to America at the age of five.
Date Published: 2018-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/enlightenment