Creative Mind

Let me quote a clash of two conceptions of life, from a modern poet. In his later poem W.B. Yeats was troubled by the feeling that in shutting himself upto right, he was missing the active pleasure of life, and yet it seemed to him certain that the man who lives for these pleasures will leave no lasting work behind him. He said this at times very simply, too:

The intellect of man is forced to choose
Perfection the life, or of the work.

This problem, whether man fulfills himself in work or in play, is of course more common than Yeats allowed; and it may be more commonplace. But it is given breadth and force by the images in which Yeats pondered it.

No man has ever lived that had enough
Of children’s gratitude or woman’s love

The love of women, the gratitude of children: the images fix two philosophies as nothing else can. They are tools of creative thought, as coherent and as exact as the conceptual image with which science works: as time and space, or as the proton and the neutron.

– J. Bronowski


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