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What Is This Life So Full Of Care?


W. H. Davies¹

What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare?—

No time to stand beneath the boughs, And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass, Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight, Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty's glance, And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare.


My pen races across this sheet of paper. My nose is still buried in this essay as I write away furiously, while the rain outside seeps into the earth and brings out its hidden petrichor.

Others around me do the same, those brimming with confidence derived from hours of exhaustive research, those staring at a blank sheet of paper, and other hypocrites like me, who let their thoughts spill out on paper without heeding the words of W. H. Davies. We write for a cause, for a prize... for a care.

The rain quickens with our moving fingers. I can hear the ecstatic laughter of children as they play in the rain, rolling around in the fragrant mud, feeling the drops on their back. As the timbre of their laughter permeates the air, I somehow recognise the sound.

Somewhere at the back of my mind that sound means something. A distant memory returns, like a faded photograph. There was a time when laughter such as that came from within me, when I was as young as those children, without ambitions and aspirations exhausting my mind.

The rain slows down, as do our moving fingers. I begin to reflect and philosophise yet again. The first thing I reflect upon is the last time I reflected. I can’t remember. All I can remember are thoughts bogged down by care and I reflect over those hours lost in seemingly meaningful tedium.

Seconds turn to minutes as thoughts keep coming. “What is this life, so full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.” Our schools are a microcosm of society - the society of our country and of the world. People divided by fundamental differences are still bound by care, the same rope binding everyone. Life is meant to be lived full and free, and that is exactly how we are not living it. We live within the vortex of our own little lives, oblivious to the beauty surrounding us.

As I look up for a moment, I catch sight of a brass plaque Literature 800-899. On the shelf on which it is fastened lie the works of those who loved to stand and stare. Art and literature appeal to us because of their haunting ability to make us stand and stare, through the eyes of others. This is what sets us apart from ants, leading their busy little lives. All the wisdom of the ages came from our innate need to stand and stare, think and reflect. Even Archimedes framed his principle of matter while soaking in his bath.

The rain has stopped, as my moving fingers will soon, and the sun comes through the windows. I yearn for a chance to stand and stare at the sunlight reflecting off the moist leaves. It illuminates the dreary library just as the words of W.H. Davies have illuminated my soul. Let it do the same to you, reader of my thoughts. Put down my essay. Stand and stare...

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