A Sestina for the Suffering

September 1, 2021- The need to be of help in relieving suffering, be it of humans or of animals, is among the most fundamental urges most of us have. This sestina, a verse of six stanzas, rotating six end words, and capped by an envoi of three lines, addresses the suffering that is encountered by many.

We go about our daily deeds, both joy and drudgery, meeting peace, to outward-seeming. Life has its minor struggles, persistent, sometimes nagging disappointments, and adventure. There is, however, no growth or triumph, without struggle. We learn, at any early age, that one safeguard against harm is that of attachment. The warmth of mother, the sturdiness of father, the friendship of sibling, curl up in memory. As we grow, there are many reactions to those around us; the best of these being empathy.

The plight of the poor, those living below what we have come to expect, summons empathy. There are hovels, tents and rolled-out blankets, which defy credulity, even to outward-seeming. A visit to an encampment, even seeing the modest trappings of ingenuity, is seared in memory. The day-to-day struggles are not uniformly dreaded by the homeless, who may see adventure. A rolled-up camp and the camaraderie of mates may trigger attachment. There comes to be seen as a truism, that what matters is not the destination, but the struggle.

A person, or an animal, waging the fight for freedom, draws admirers to their struggle. There is no end to the outpouring, at least initially, of empathy. The identification of onlooker with target, and against oppressor, becomes a torrid attachment. The course of action becomes clear, to outward-seeming. Some will join in the fray, if only to experience a rare adventure. On their deathbeds, the onlookers turned fighters will whisper their memory.

There is a power, though, in the storehouse that is memory. It nags, it pleads and ultimately forces the onlooker to join the struggle. There is scant relaxation, maybe a dearth of comfort, in the ensuing adventure. The fire of action fuels the sword of courage, forged on the anvil of empathy. Those not convinced of the truth that is spoken to power see waste, to outward-seeming. Greed, envy, avarice, lust and pride are among the foci of their attachment.

The suffering, living day-to-day, may grasp at their helpers, in oblique attachment. The y have yet to experience the living out of a dream, with squalor their sole memory. The plight of the oppressed can seem intractable, to outward-seeming. It is all too easy to kneel in pleading, not wanting to engage in righteous struggle. It is the rising, however, that engenders and sustains empathy. It is the fortitude, the joining of hands, that sustain the real adventure.

The signals are clear, when an oppressed soul stands and embarks on such adventure. The multitude gathers, moves forward in serried lines, and hope is their sole attachment. They walk along, forge past all obstacles, and bathe one another in empathy. In time, the victories, no matter how fleeting, build a treasury of memory. The triumphs fuel, and the setbacks harden, the boldness of struggle. Then, there will be a measure of unity, between inner perception and outward-seeming.

All in all, what is past is prologue, and what is to be, generates from memory. The chef who cooks recollection, needs a fresh supply of struggle. There is no daylight, in the end, between inner perception and outward-seeming.

Purists may bemoan the relative lack of iambic pentameter, but such is life.

2 thoughts on “A Sestina for the Suffering

  1. Iambic pentameter is not a requirement of the sestina so you are fine!! I had a little trouble reading this one but I know all too well the struggle with the Block Editor of WP! The content is excellent and I agree that the journey and the people traveling life’s roads are the important parts!

    Liked by 1 person

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