by Kim Pederson…….
One Poem-a-Day selection last weekend was John Keats’ “What the Thrush Said.” For me, the poem has that “sticky” quality that website developers and webpage creators crave, primarily because of this line: “O fret not after knowledge–I have none.” On one prehensile, multi-fingered extremity, this is a very elegant way of saying what Sergeant Schultz endlessly claimed in Hogan’s Heroes: “I know nothing. Nothing!” On the other, it plays the TMI card in a gently admonishing way that could be expressed more contemporaneously as “Don’t Worry [if you feel ignorant] Be Happy” or “Ignorance is bliss.” (The phrase would also be an excellent bumper sticker/campaign slogan for most 2016 Republican presidential candidates, but I digress.)
Of course, all of this ignores the poem’s title, which tells us these words are those of a thrush. Well, what is a thrush exactly? In one incarnation, it’s a creature like the robin shown above characterized in Wikipedia as “plump, soft-plumaged, small to medium-sized birds, inhabiting wooded areas and often feeding on the ground.” So, in light of the “fret not” line, we could discuss at length what an avian thrush might know or not know. But we won’t because the mind of a thrush or any living thing, even ourselves, is ultimately unfathomable.
Thrush is also a yeast infection that causes white patches to form in the mouth, mostly in babies and older adults. I’m not sure if yeast is cognizant and capable of elegant pronouncements but that is, as you may have guessed, also incomprehensible to us.
Finally, there is T.H.R.U.S.H. (Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity), the villainous organization that plagued Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement) TV series. Sadly, we’ll never know what the T.H.R.U.S.H. bad guys thought or said because their words do not seem to be extant. We (or I) can speculate, however, that their pronouncements were likely on par with this exchange between Napoleon and Illya:
- Napoleon (on intercom): Illya, we have a situation here that needs your special talents. Are you free?
- Illya (on intercom): No man is free who works for a living. But, I’m available.
In the end, it seems best to adopt the words “O fret not for knowledge” as a useful mantra for stress relief. In that respect, you can also become a regular reader of this blog because you’ll never have to worry about learning anything here. If there’s one thing I’ve made clear regarding wisdom, it’s that, as the thrush said, I have none.
* American robin, a true thrush. Photo by Ltshears – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons