Yesterday we explored Golding’s translation of Ovid’s image of the four ages of the world. How much we need the influence of that vision of the Golden Age! How accurate is that depiction of the Iron Age which seems to be the prevailing condition of human life on this planet… and yet we have someone like Shakespeare who looks with such intensity at the underlying causes of what makes the iron age: greed, mistrust, violence… and at the same time celebrates the extraordinary potential of the human being… if they could only find their way of connecting to this source of grace and hope:
What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving, how express and admirable in action, how like an angel in apprehension, how like a god! the beauty of the world; the paragon of animals….. (Hamlet 3.2.277)…. So Golding provided a real insight into the currents of thought circulating in Shakespeare’s times… thoughts that we would do well to heed today…
And were we not astonished by the vision of a new society, a golden age of the Imagination that Coleridge, Wordsworth Shelley and the other Romantics attempted to found in the early 19th Century… despite the personal tensions and tragedies that lay beneath the lives of these great poets, their work shines out as a call, a beckoning to the extraordinary gifts of the human spirit: “In Xanadu did Kubla Khan…”/ ” O Wind/ If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”
Teach me half the gladness
That thy brain must know
Such harmonious madness
From my lips would flow
The world should listne then – as I am listening now.