I Think Constantly of Those Who Were Truly Great
and, to be perfectly honest, it bums me out.
So many great ones! —libidinal heroes,
idealists, warrior-chieftains, revolutionaries,
fabulists of all sorts, even the great Irish pig farmers
and Armenian raisin growers —and who,
I ask myself, am I by comparison? Calmed
by Valium, urged on by Viagra, uplifted
by Prozac, I go about my daily rounds,
a quotidian member of the quotidian hierarchy,
a Perseus with neither a war nor a best friend,
and sink to the depths of despair
on the broken wings of my own mundanity.
If only some god had given me greatness,
I surely would have made something of it—
perhaps a loftier, more humble poem than this,
or some übermenschliche gesture that would reveal
my superiority to the ordinary beings and things
of this world. But here I am now, one of
the earth’s mere Sancho Panzas, leading
those heroic others through the world on their
magnificent horses, merely turning the page, dreaming
my own small deeds into their magnificent arms.
— by Michael Blumenthal
See more poems in Sabio’s Poetry Anthology
A bit about Michael Blumenthal
Born in 1949, Blumenthal was raised in a German-speaking family in NY (he has published in German) — thus perhaps his Nietzschean “übermenschliche”. We was a philosopher, then a lawyer, and then a psychotherapist living and working in Europe. Finally, his passion became his profession.
About this Poem:
- “Armenian raisin growers“: Fleeing annihilation (Turkey) and civil wars in other countries, Armenians migrated to the USA — largely to California & NY (esp. Manhattan, Blumenthal’s childhood). see here
& Raisin Farm pic credit
- “Perseus“: A greek hero, but who was his friend? Athena or Hermes? They both helped give him “greatness” see wiki
- “übermenschliche” : allusion to Nietzsche’s übermensch (Superman) — so here perhaps “some superhuman/superior-human) gesture”. see wiki
- “Sancho Panza“: a fictional character in the 1605 Spanish novel, “Don Quixote”. (wiki) He was Don Quixote’s servant, a realist, and offered his master earthly wit, broad humor and irony throughout the story.
I don’t lament (perhaps neither does Blumenthal, really), but instead embrace our insignificance (see my post). For to view the world through heroes, or worse, to envy those heroes is a deep mistake: see my view of “The Great Person Theory of History“.