What's the best life for a man? --Never to have been born, sings the choros, and the next best Is to die young. I saw the Sybil at Cumae Hung in her cage over the public street-- What do you want, Sybil? I want to die. Apothanein Thelo. Apothanein Thelo. Apothanein Thelo. You have got your wish. But I meant life, not death. What's the best life for a man? To ride in the wind. To ride horses and herd cattle In solitary places above the ocean on the beautiful mountain, and come home hungry in the evening And eat and sleep. He will live in the wild wind and quick rain, he will not ruin his eyes with reading, Nor think too much. However, we must have philosophers. I will have shepherds for my philosophers, Tall dreary men lying on the hills all night Watching the stars, let their dogs watch the sheep. And I'll have lunatics For my poets, strolling from farm to farm, wild liars distorting The country news into supernaturalism-- For all men to such minds are devils or gods--and that increases Man's dignity, man's importance, necessary lies Best told by fools. I will have no lawyers nor constables Each man guard his own goods: there will be manslaughter, But no more wars, no more mass-sacrifice. Nor I'll have no doctors, Except old women gathering herbs on the mountain, Let each have her sack of opium to ease the death-pains.
That would be a good world, free and out-doors. But the vast hungry spirit of the time Cries to his chosen that there is nothing good Except discovery, experiment and experience and discovery: To look truth in the eyes, To strip truth naked, let our dogs do our living for us But man discover. It is a fine ambition, But the wrong tools. Science and mathematics Run parallel to reality, they symbolize it, they squint at it, They never touch it: consider what an explosion Would rock the bones of men into little white fragments and unsky the world If any mind for a moment touch truth.