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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14 thoughts on “And so it has taken me all of sixty years to understand

  1. Can you both feel the vibrations from NY? Wow, if this hasn’t been the main topic of conversation every where I go lately? Leaves me to wonder, and we’ve touched upon it many times – what is the mystical 60 and what did we expect? I know what I had hoped. With this year’s “curve-ball”, I feel I’m on an endless search to connect with this number. And, so when reading and re-reading the second paragraph something clicked. Almost “how simple is that?” and it’s been staring me in the face all this time (along with the wisdom lines aka crows feet, three chins and no neck” :). What a glorious connection of words that really have deep meaning. And I love that they connect me to you (that goes without saying) but to Lori as well and I’m sure many more of the women and men who respond to your re-blog today. I like that you say it struck you on ‘some visceral level’ because that’s exactly what I’m feeling. Pretty nice way to start the weekend – while always connected to you over the miles today you feel a bit closer. I like that, too. Have the most wonderful weekend.

    • I’m right there with you Jo…it brings me back to me. And re-calibrates my thinking. That it brings us closer still – that is just a gift. Have a great weekend honey..xox

  2. I read this right before I went to bed last night, was mesmerized by the words and fell asleep. I woke up in the middle of the night and stayed awake thinking of the meaning of this poem and didn’t mind being up. I guess I am of the perfect age as well and have been figuring these things out all along. Thank you for connecting me to this poet, and to you, who shares and gives so much with words in every post and stimulates my mind and my soul. I am blessed to know you. xo Fran

    • That blessing is reciprocal Fran..how lucky am I that we are on this journey together (in a way). This poem is now in my wallet – there is something about it that just speaks so beautifully to me. Sending you much love – and my hopes that you get a nap in today too. xo, m

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