For All Sad Words of Tongue and Pen Essay

Outline:

  • Introduction
  • Man, the author of his troubles
  • Happiness an occasional episode in general drama of human tragedy
  • Mon’s disappointment with religion
  • The longing to undo the things done
  • Man’s refusal to learn from experience
  • Conclusion

The famous Victorian Novelist Thomas Hardy termed happiness an occasional episode in the general drama of human pain and suffering. Thomas Hardy may have overshot his mark at times; his pessimistic outbursts remain as true today as they were when he pronounced them. Man’s sojourn on this planet is essentially tragic. Advancement on the materialistic plane has not made it in any way less so. If anything the sum total of human misery is on the increase.

Man’s tragedy lies in the fact that he has himself been the author of his troubles all through – the only exception being the prehistoric times when human beings were forced to be helpless spectators before the ravages of nature. Even since human beings got the better of nature, things might have been different Sut they were not. After subduing the fury to nature to a considerable extent, they set out to subdue one another. Countless battles and wars fought on ringing plains the world over left both victors and vanquished sadder but not wiser than before. Although man is never tired of reiterating that to err is human hitherto he has persistently refused to hold himself guilty. After things have gone bad he turns towards extraneous circumstances and sets out to alter them.

When kings and emperors fought wars and battles; the monarchy was held responsible for people’s ills. It was held that with democracy replacing monarchy millennium of peace and prosperity would be ushered in. Such a high-flown expectation democracy failed to fulfil. In France, charmed by the magnetic sway of Napoleon, it was concluded that though kings were wicked there was no harm in instituting emperors. Napoleon was subsequently tamed by the might of the British Navy. Then they went back to democracy. In countries like the U. S. S. R. Socialism was deemed as the cure of the Czarist ravages. In the U. S. A. capitalist set-up is worshipped as a near perfect answer to humanity’s troubles. The colonized nations looked forward to emancipation from colonialism only to find to their horror and dismay that that post, freedom era does not in any way appear to be paving way for the ‘the Second Coming of Christ’.

From time immemorial man has been blaming systems for his undoing. He has by no means exhausted his ignenuity holding extraneous factors responsible for the mess he has heaped around him. The fact remains that his strictures on systems have ended up making his lot more miserable. Happiness continues to and will remain an occasional episode in the general drama of human pain and misery.

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Unable to wipe out misery from the face of the earth, nothing gratifies man more to bemoaning his miserable lot. Shelley wished to translate Platonic perfection into practice. But he succeeded only in giving expression to his sense of anguish at man’s essentially tragic condition:

“We look before and after

And pine for what is not

Our sweetest songs are those

That tells of saddest thought.”

This expression of Shelley sums up, as nearly as man is capable of, mankind’s predicament on this earth. Shelley, however, is not alone to feel so. For every expression of optimism there are hundreds of pessimistic outbursts to refute its validity. Robert Browning’s complacent pat “God is in His Heaven, All is right with the world” has never been taken seriously. Most people prefer to hold that God is not in His heaven and all is not right with the world. An old English proverb says, “Call no man happy until he is dead.” This may sound unduly pessimistic, even cynical, but when viewed dispassionately is not much farther from truth. To long for unalloyed happiness in this world amounts to asking for the moon. Men like Dale Carnegie have sold millions of copies prescribing for people ‘How to stop worrying and start living. While the authors have indeed stopped worrying at least about the financial resources, their readers, worries continue to remain unabated. No power on earth or in heaven for that matter can release man from the trap of miseries, which he has so dexterously, laid for him. No wonder millions of sad words have been written and spoken capturing all pervasive misery. The saddest among them however, are “It might have been!” These four words may be interpreted differently by different sets of people. Whichever way one looks at them, the essence of their meaning remains unaltered. They convey the ever-present longing for undoing things already done. If age could and youth would, there would have been no problem. How pathetic that age never could undo the things done and youth never would do what ought to be done. Even Browning concedes that most human problems owe their existence to a sense of remorse, which haunts every moment of man’s life. ‘Had I done this! Had I done that.’ How sad that the wheel of time cannot be reversed through the back gear. Every moment that passes slips into the fathomless abyss of past, and past can only be recalled in dream or at best in reveries. Recalling past either in dreams or reveries is tantamount to saying or writing words conveying the same sense, as do the words ‘It might have been!’

Political memories are short and human memories are shorter still. It is a pity one man refuses to learn from experiences of others. How else does history repeat itself! How else can one justify the statement that history has taught us only one thing; none has ever learnt anything from history! Hitler had the glaring example of Napoleon’s folly inviting the wrath of Russian winter. And yet he conveniently followed the footsteps of the French and met the same fate. How repeatedly he must have said to himself when the Allied forces had succeeded in cornering him “It might have been (different) but for a folly of mine.” We are also like Hitler bewailing follies committed.

Sometime success seems to be so near and yet it remains eternally far. Everybody is wise after the event, they say. We are all unduly proficient analysing causes of failure in any walk of life. We claim to be not given to hair splitting, though it is precisely hair splitting and nothing else we manage to do all through our lives. It is not that we do so out of ignorance. We are side awaken when we wish things done be undone. How easy for Walpole to come out with his grandstand assertion that life is comedy for those who think and tragedy for those who feel. Keats sounds more realistic when’ he says about this world that in it to think is to invite ‘leaden eyed despair.’ The chain of thinking only lands one into exclaiming: “It might have been!”

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