Sorrow is knowledge

And thus began the self-deception that all sorrow is knowledge and the tacit acknowledgement of grief as the sign of wisdom.

The phrase occurs in Manfred, a drama in poetry by aord Byron, in the first soliloquy of Manfred, the protagonist who debates the intent of life having known all that is to be known, has an unknown and mysterious grief gnawing him.

The start in itself is one of my most favorite passages in English poetry.

The lamp must be replenish'd, but even then
It will not burn so long as I must watch.
My slumbers-- if I slumber-- are not sleep,
But a continuance of enduring thought,
Which then I can resist not: in my heart
There is a vigil, and these eyes but close
To look within; and yet I live, and bear
The aspect and the form of breathing men.
But grief should be the instructor of the wise;
Sorrow is knowledge: they who know the most             10
Must mourn the deepest o'er the fatal truth,
The Tree of Knowledge is not that of Life. 

I read this when I was but an impressionable personality, and vastly more ignorant than I am now, around 19 years of age. How misleading is time, to imply and assume number of years as the measure of a thing’s worth!

To be continued…

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  1. To begin with, let me disagree!

    Sorrow is knowledge, and there is no deception in this per say. Sorrow instills wisdom by inculcating in us the ability to rise beyond grief. That is knowledge. The certainty that neither joy nor grief is permanent. That is knowledge. And sorrow plays a role in this education.

    Now I must thank you for typing out this wonderful passage by Lord Byron. Byron happens to be one of my favourite poets, and I am glad I came upon this post!

  2. First of all, let me agree…:-)

    All that you say on sorrow is true. The intent of my post though is to dwell on how one gets trapped in perceptions that have been grafted onto our minds.

    Took a look at your blog too, quite like your post topics…glad you commented!

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