All that is essential

Portrait, by Käthe Kollwitz (1934)


All that is essential

If there is a love in your life
           but it is not essential
cut it out
           if there is music
and if it flows through you
           as a recurring fugue flows
but it is not essential
           cut it out
if there is dance
           but the steps grow weary
and the legs long to rest
           then it is not essential
so cut it out

the universe has stars
            that gleam in the blackness
diamond stars fated for all time
            and under those stars
there is a lesson to be learnt
            that art is enduring
and capable of outlasting
           a burning star
that is doomed to extinction
           that music will endure forever
beyond the silence
           of the most distant stars :
if above all things
           there is a love in your life
but it’s not essential
            and it’s not what counts
in your day to day
            however much it pains you
cut it out
           and find another

John Lyons

To read Muriel Rukeyser’s poem dedicated to Kollwitz, click here.



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