To Be Great

by Eric Chaet

1

What if you were to say to me, “You’re great!”

In my younger days, I yearned
to be told, “You’re great!”

But, now, who are you?
How do you know more than I, or even as well as I
if I’m great or not great?

And what does it mean, to be great?

It’s true, Beethoven was great at writing symphonies.
No one ever wrote such great symphonies before or since—
or, if they did, word of it hasn’t reached me.
It’s quite possible.
What’s truly great may not seem so to those who witness it.
They may not notice, they may not comprehend,
or they may nervously laugh it off, or denigrate it—
so as not to feel less than someone else.

Even so, an earthworm is at least as great
as any of Beethoven’s symphonies.
Certainly, the planet, Uranus, is as great.
A pear is as great, or a dandelion, or duck.
So, then, what is great?

And as great as Beethoven’s symphonies are
(I listen to them again & again)
or an earthworm, Uranus, a pear, or a duck—
still, most people suffer
& most people put on poses
because they can’t bear who they are.

I know that, some rare times, what I have done
I have done in the greatest way possible—
but how great is the deed?—
when most people suffer
& most people put on poses
because they can’t bear who they are.

2

Doesn’t it seem as tho
none of those reputed to be great among us
have managed to restrain injustice
or the many normal mad behaviors
of those who must submit to it
& who can’t bear to know
that that’s what they are doing—
let alone managed to institute
justice, sanity, health, & cooperation
among us?

Then, if any are truly great among us—
I can’t say whether they exist or not—
they must be in the process
of so restraining & instituting
without being reputed to be doing so.

To be one such is the object
of whatever focusing & self-discipline
I’ve been capable of, so far.

///

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