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And so it has taken me all of sixty years to understand

This poem hit me viscerally…from the title through the last line. We learn so much, so late. Though arguably if we never learn, that would be the worst outcome of all.

Live & Learn

Taha Muhammad Ali

Neither music,
fame, nor wealth,
not even poetry itself,
could provide consolation
for life’s brevity,
or the fact that King Lear
is a mere eighty pages long and comes to an end
and for the thought that one might suffer greatly
on account of a rebellious child…

And so
it has taken me
all of sixty years
to understand
that water is the finest drink,
and bread the most delicious food,
and that art is worthless
unless it plants
a measure of splendor in people’s hearts.

After we die,
and the weary heart
has lowered its final eyelid
on all that we’ve done,
and on all that we longed for,
on all that we’ve dreamt of,
all we’ve desired
or felt,
hate will be
the first thing
to putrefy
within us.

–Taha Muhammad Ali, Excerpt from the poem “Twigs in “So What, New and Selected Poems


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