Footsteps in the Wind
Just a few nights ago, I slept beneath the shelter of a tent in the Stanage National Forest, near Hathersage, England, and awoke to the sound of a light rain and the wind whipping the camping permit against the stretched nylon with a nearly steady rhythm, footsteps echoing down long, narrow corridors.
I held to the image and poetic composition of my dream: an old, tall, thin man, arms waving, running without apparent destination, overwhelmed by the obvious, pending doom. He wore a tattered black top hat, a long, black tail coat split at the bottom and pointed, broken shoes. His bare, white ankles shown just below the limit of his dusty trouser legs, the cuffs of his once-white shirt longer than the coat. He was bent over as he moved, compensation for his unusual height more than for pain in his back or defect in his bones.
He was, in the Hollywood tradition of pre-industrial revolution London, wide-eyed and mad, going on about things which the mass of equally ragged individuals around him generally ignored.
In this dream, I was a child who could not ignore such a man, even crazy as he was, for what he said hurt deep within me. The concept that there could be nothing new was too much to bare without challenge.
And so the exchange unfolds …
There is nothing new under the sun!
“There is nothing new under the sun!”
I once heard a man cry.
I looked across the crowd,
called to him and asked “Why?”
He stopped, considered,
and then came to my side.
“Innovation, invention, and creativity cost.
It’s an accepted principal that new ideas are lost.”
“We just recycle what is here,
to use again and again.
Something truly new?
Well, that would not be what has been.”
And with a touch of his hat,
and a brief, shameful grin,
he shook my hand
and then bounded down the street again.
“There is nothing new under the sun!
… nothing new under the sun!
… under the sun!”
his voice fading into the clamor and din.
I was moved, yes,
but impressed I was not.
The answer was clear to me,
for the sun is indeed quite hot.
But to live without risk,
that’s not living at all.
To avoid the light of the sun,
is to avoid the call.
And so I ran in the opposite direction,
with a confident, wide grin, yelling,
“Over the sun we shall go!
Over the sun we should seek,
for there the ideas are new,
and the innovations replete.”
© Kai Staats 2009
In the summer of 2010, this poem was put to music by singer/song-writer James Hersch and enjoyed via the embedded audio player, here:.