Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pity Not the Mole

“A small degree of vision is sufficient for a creature that is ever destined to live in darkness.  A more extensive sight would only have served to show the horrors of its prison.”
~Oliver Goldsmith (1774), quoted in Keith Thomas, Man and the Natural World: Changing Attitudes (1983)

Intolerable arrogance of the human mind!
Which pities the mole for being blind
And thinks it a mercy of man’s private God
To imprison a creature below the sod
And proceed to deprive what he enslaves
Of power to perceive its dismal cage.
            But consider this:

The mole, though blind, seeks not to blight
Others endowed with better sight
Nor does he imagine a Sky-Mole above
Who reserves for only moles his love—
Yet spite of all, man thinks his soul
Sees further than that of guileless mole.
            This is piss.

Mole afflicts not mole with poisonous toil
Nor condemns him to labor beneath the soil
Nor stocks up his brains with slanderous lies
Nor blackens his lungs and darkens his eyes
Nor purrs to himself complacently:
“It is a kindness he cannot see.”
           In light of this:

I see not why moles should stricken be
With patient, kindly contumely
Or have crocodile tears shed for them
By Mr. Oliver Goldsmith’s pen
Perhaps Moles, though blind, see further than
The featherless biped known as man.
            Remember this.

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