On His Being Arrived to the Age of Twenty-three

How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,

stolen on his wing my three and twentieth year!

My hasting days fly on with full career,

But my late spring no bud or blossom shew’th.

Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth,

That I to manhood am arrived so near,

And inward ripeness doth much less appear,

That some more timely-happy spirits indu’th.

Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow,

It shall be still in strictest measure even

To that same lot, however mean or high,

Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heaven.

All is, if I have grace to use it so,

As ever in my great Task-master’s eye.

 

Last week I attended my first honor thesis workshop. One professor at the workshop mentioned that, writing is a practice. It’s like cross-country running, the more you do it, the better you get at it. But once you stop doing that, you are going to lose the ability. He told me that during his grad-school days, he used to start with writing a short review for a sonnet each day. “If I want to teach a course on Sonnets, I am prepared!” he said cheerfully. Indeed, he is a professor in French and Comparative Literature, and as a Poli-Sci major I probably found myself a bit lost amongst a group of humanities and arts majors. But I do agree that writing should be impulsive and continuous.

I have always liked John Milton, particularly his “Paradise Lost”, because he was able to describe Satan in a positive light. I thought, what harder job can there be, than to justify for Satan. From time to time, I remember his words, better to lead in hell, than to submit in heaven. And that even if humans (Adam and Eve) are expelled from Heaven, they carry heaven within them nonetheless. I would not regret taking the fruit of wisdom. Freedom and happiness do not come together. If taking the fruit means to lose happiness, but to live freely hereafter, sounds like a good deal to me.

To go back to the sonnet, I realize that my 22 years old, as compared to my 21 years old, is much more about the disenchantment with reality and myself. Last year was tough, but I had the intuition that I was doing the correct things. Now I am not sure anymore. And very soon I will be 23 years old. Will I also lament, that time passed by too fast, and that I have no fruits to symbolize my 23 years on this planet? Probably. I cannot continue telling myself that everything will be fine. 人活在世上总得自己对得起自己.

 

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