Saturday, August 6, 2011

Haunting Me

Sometimes I'm haunted by certain songs, poems or stories. They resurface again and again in my thoughts, seemingly out of nowhere, and only after a long time do I realize their significance for me. In fact, there are some stories that have haunted me that I still haven't figured out the meaning of. They're just there, molding my thoughts, and perhaps I won't know why until I get to Heaven and see all my life spread out before me, and all the threads tied up and loose ends resolved. All this is to say, here is a lovely part of King Lear that has been haunting my thoughts this week. I don't know why.

"We two alone will sing like birds i' the cage:
When thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down,
And ask of thee forgiveness: so we'll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
Talk of court news; and we'll talk with them too,
Who loses and who wins; who's in, who's out;
—And take upon us the mystery of things,
As if we were God's spies..."


  1. Aaah, as you probably could have guessed from my blog (http://gods-spies.blogspot.com/), that is my #1 favorite passage of Shakespeare! :)

    Delightful blog, by the way. :)

  2. Lauren, thanks for the comment, and I must say I very much enjoy your blog too! If you don't mind me asking, what is it you like about this passage? Perhaps you can help shed some light on why it's been in my thoughts so much lately. :)

  3. Why, thanks, Tess! Part of my love for this passage stems from Joseph Pearce's commentary on King Lear. But I think I can say, aside from that, that this passage *is* haunting for a few reasons. These words are spoken by some one who is facing total adversity--the first line, which you are missing there, is "Come, let's away to prison." But instead of dreading it, he speaks of it with quiet contentment, of peace, even joy: the communion of two souls content with anything as long as they have each other. He has seen the folly of worldly pursuits ("gilded butterflies talk of court news"). Now, he's content to "pray, and sing, and laugh, and tell old tales". An ideal life, indeed, complete with the beauty of total love and forgiveness between two hearts ("when thou dost ask me blessing, I'll kneel down, and ask of thee forgiveness, and so we'll live"). Secondly, it speaks of a genuine wonder and child-like delight with life itself, the "mystery of things"--even in prison. But to understand the term "God's spies"--with all it's fascinating connotation--you have to add the next lines.

    " . . . take upon us the mystery of things, as if we were God's Spies,
    And wear out, in a wall'd prison, pacts and sects of great ones
    That ebb and flow by the moon."

    They've found something eternal, and holding on to it, though they might look like fools to the rest of the world, they know they'll outlast all the world's own fools who go up and down with the tides of fashion, politics, and power.

    There are *chapters* more to be said about this. I talk a little more about it at the end of this article (http://gods-spies.blogspot.com/2010/07/walking-with-children.html). But don't take my word for it. Go read Joseph Pearce, heehee. ;)

    God bless! :)

  4. Lauren, what a beautiful reflection. Thank you so much. Perhaps it's been in my mind as I'm moving because I see it as a lifestyle to aspire to. I'll look up Pearce's commentary, and read your blog post about it too. Thanks for the ideas. :)