Thursday, 4 December 2008

Three passions have governed my life

Three passions have governed my life:
The longings for love, the search for knowledge,
And unbearable pity for the suffering of [humankind].

Love brings ecstasy and relieves loneliness.
In the union of love I have seen
In a mystic miniature the prefiguring vision
Of the heavens that saints and poets have imagined.

With equal passion I have sought knowledge.
I have wished to understand the hearts of [people].
I have wished to know why the stars shine.

Love and knowledge led upwards to the heavens,
But always pity brought me back to earth;
Cries of pain reverberated in my heart
Of children in famine, of victims tortured
And of old people left helpless.
I long to alleviate the evil, but I cannot,
And I too suffer.

This has been my life; I found it worth living.
Bertrand Russell


Mark Paquette said...

I am now 38 years old ... but I can remember, at around the age off 11 or so, reading this in the NYT Magazine (or whatever the Sunday edition contained) ... and the very first paragraph sticking with me ever since.

Rhys said...

I came across this poem while in nursing school and it perfectly described my feelings about my life. I have carried the first thre lines with me ever since.