From Consolation of Philosophy of Boethius
translated by David R. Slavitt
Book V, section III
What strife breaks the civil bonds
of the things of this world? What God would set
such incompatible truths loose
to struggle thus with one another?
Either could stand alone, but together
how can their contradictions be joined?
Or is there some way that they can get on
that the human mind, enmeshed in flesh,
cannot discern? That flame is covered,
and in the darkness the world’s subtle
connections are hidden. And yet we feel
the warmth of the love that holds together
all that there is in eternal truth
that knows what it seeks and has its end
in its beginning. But which of us yearns
to learn those things he already knows?
And is that wisdom or is it blindness?
(And how do we know that we do not know
what we do not know?) If it were found,
could the ignorant seeker recognize it?
From our minds to the mind of God
is an awesome leap: the infinite number
of separate truths that are yet all one
leave us breathless. The body’s dense
flesh obscures our recollection
of the separate truths and the one truth
and yet allows us at least to suspect
that we all live in an awkward state
of inklings of our ignorance
which turn out to be our greatest wisdom—
as if we had long ago ascended
and beheld from on high the exalted vision
of which we now retain nothing
but the sense of loss of that exaltation.
Per Contra Spring 2007