the poet as a philosopher

One need not be human to be hurt by human things.
One need not be subject to bow to foreign kings.
Nor disciple of a principle that teaches any lore
To spread about a heresy they will burn you for.

Stand whatever reach of ground your feet have brought you to.
Your back will be to one way no matter what you do.
Maybe you face the northland; maybe it is the west.
Whatever words you speak to friends antagonize the rest.

No choice when darkness lies to right and fire to your left—
But you may wonder what you’ve done to leave you so bereft.
No truth is found in the middle ground: just foes on either side.
Whatever prints you leave behind will vanish with the tide.

There are heroes who wear the black, and saints who wear white.
You walk along that painful road between the day and night.
Maybe they look up through the dark, and you have an angel grace;
Maybe they see you from the light, and you wear a demon’s face.

Maybe you tell a simple thing, as friend to your own friend.
Whatever way you will turn to will damn you in the end.
Rising from pain and twilight, what wisdom does sunrise bring?
One need not be human to be hurt by human things.