If a life neednít be useful to be meaningful,
Then maybe a life of sunbathing on a beach
Can be thought of as meaningful for at least a few,
The few, say, who view the sun as a god
And consider basking a form of worship.
As for those devoted to partnership with a surfboard
Or a pair of ice skates or a bag of golf clubs,
Though I canít argue their lives are useful,
Iíd be reluctant to claim they have no meaning
Even if no one observes their display of mastery.
No one is listening to the librarian
I can call to mind as she practices, after work,
In her flat on Hoover Street, the viola da gamba
In the one hour of day that for her is golden.
So what if sheíll never be good enough
To give a concert people will pay to hear?
When I need to think of her with an audience,
I can imagine the ghosts of composers dead for centuries,
Pleased to hear her doing her best with their music.
And isnít it pleasing, as we walk at dusk to our cars
Parked on Hoover Street, after a meeting
On saving a shuttered hotel from the wrecking ball,
To catch the sound of someone filling a room
We wonít be visiting with a haunting solo?
And then the gifts we receive by imagining
How down at the beach today surfers made sure
The big waves we werenít there to appreciate
Didnít go begging for attention.
And think of the sunlight we failed to welcome,
How others stepped forward to take it in.
About this poem:
"I'm trying here to throw light on the concept of meaningful life by exploring different notions of making a contribution, pushing for an expanded view of the roles required to give a full performance to human possibilities. The poet wants to believe that despite appearances everyone in the poem has a part in the play."