11:30 a.m., Nov. 13
- John Lyon, former chairman of the liberal studies program at Notre Dame
We’re measured by measures we take
Three poems by John Lyon
The Measure of Man
- The word and the world and the weather
- Are measured by meters we make.
- What’s given is given; however
- We receive only what we can take.
- So we take what we can while it’s given,
- Lest, whatever its nature may be,
- Its appearance be changed, and we driven
- To re-measure the things we can’t see.
- For the Thing-in-itself is poetic,
- It’s a function of fiction we make;
- While all that we know that’s noetic
- Is: we’re measured by measures we take.
Odysseus Came Home
- Odysseus came home, the legends say,
- In Spring, to Ithaka. Penelope
- For twenty years a widow in that May
- Of him who fell from favor with the sea,
- Wove fully in the day the cloth of life
- And nightly pulled apart her work, still
- Dreaming what it meant to be his wife,
- But he had farther yet to wander, till
- Some inland peasant took his oar for flail
- And she, more nights in fruitless sleep, unraveling
- The fabric of their interwoven tale
- Distended by misfortune, absence, travelling.
- So we: The seas of life, disfavoring long conjunction,
- Dissolve the tightest bonds with small compunction.
- Old Anselm — at whose feet impatient Abelard
- Refused to sit — mumbling matins
- In monastic cells of fox-damp Norman ashlar —
- Knew much; more perhaps
- Than Master Peter himself among
- The specula of Paris
- Could refine from sunny dialectic.
- For he knew delight is not
- That which we look for;
- Delight is that
- Which we look by.