ADAM LINDSAY GORDON
Fytte VI: Potters' Clay
[An Allegorical Interlude]
'Nec propter vitam vivendi perdere causas.'
THOUGH the pitcher that goes to the sparkling rill
Too oft gets broken at last,
There are scores of others its place to fill
When its earth to the earth is cast ;
Keep that pitcher at home, let it never roam,
But lie like a useless clod,
Yet sooner or later the hour will come
When its chips are thrown to the sod.
Is it wise, then, say, in the waning day,
When the vessel is crack'd and old,
To cherish the battered potter's clay,
As though it were virgin gold ?
Take care of yourself, dull, boorish elf,
Though prudent and safe you seem,
Your pitcher will break on the musty shelf,
And mine by the dazzling stream.
Published in 'Sea Spray and Smoke Drift' (1867).
I just broke a casserole/pudding bowl that my grandfather made. Not broke, smashed. I knew it would happen sometime, because we use it all the time. But I believe in using, not putting on the shelf and treating things as precious. My father quoted this poem to me as a teenager and I've loved the sentiment ever since.
So I cried, hard, and now I'm thinking about grinding a piece down into a pendant, at the kind advice of friends. I have plenty of other things he made; they aren't decorative apart from a good solid sense of workable style, but this piece was constantly in my hands, and it would be nice to remember it.
Other things feel fragile at the moment, too. I'm overworked and trying to hold my head and equilibrium together. Small things are helping, like walks and hanging out with Bumblebee, plus the cats are such simple, faithful pleasures. I hope I can manage a break soon, but it looks like things won't calm down until August!