Old Chestnuts

I am immensely moved by this Richard Rorty essay written just before his death, with this staggering closing paragraph:

However that may be, I now wish that I had spent somewhat more of my life with verse. This is not because I fear having missed out on truths that are incapable of statement in prose. There are no such truths; there is nothing about death that Swinburne and Landor knew but Epicurus and Heidegger failed to grasp. Rather, it is because I would have lived more fully if I had been able to rattle off more old chestnuts — just as I would have if I had made more close friends. Cultures with richer vocabularies are more fully human — farther removed from the beasts — than those with poorer ones; individual men and women are more fully human when their memories are amply stocked with verses.

5 thoughts on “Old Chestnuts

  1. Pingback: Cultures with richer vocabularies are more fully human — | sub rosa

  2. He was an interesting man and I can’t say I agree with everything he wrote, but I do like that paragraph you quote. Anyone who wishes he read more poetry can’t be all that bad 🙂

  3. Pingback: Old Chestnuts | infinitewit

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