I’ve been rereading Ray Bradbury’s (…may he rest in peace…so sayeth we all…) Fahrenheit 451. Actually, I’m listening to it on Audible; there is a performance of it by Tim Robbins which literally makes me weep. It’s THAT good.
Anyway, as I revisit this all-too-prophetic story of a society so frightened by what is uncomfortable, challenging, or even beautiful, I am convicted. My earlier post “Dystopian Reality” goes into more detail, but as I revisit this book, I am more and more convinced that we ought to read dystopian literature with the same care with which we read history.
Most of us are familiar with the following quote by (most likely) George Santayana:
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
However, we ought also to bear in mind this:
“Those who do consider dystopian literature seriously are doomed to find these stories more fact than fiction, more future than fantasy.”
Okay…admittedly, I am quoting myself here and it isn’t even a good quote at that. Regardless, I believe Bradbury would back me up in my claim.
But the real reason I’ve gathered you all here today is to share the following poem, inspired by Clarisse McClellan of Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451:
The bluebird blinking from my palm, its nest,
Is hollow in its o’er-bright, beeping song
And though its shallow verses are not long—
If only it would lay its voice to rest!
For I saw another bird today take wing;
It caught my eye and I dared not stroll past,
For true moments of beauty rarely last
And yet inspire me all the more to sing.
The first bird blares and yet draws not a breath
As it cries out for me to tend its feed
While yet the other bird has no such need
Though it— alive — is capable of death.
These two are of no familial feather:
One takes to flight, the other to its tether.