Remembering Meriwether Lewis in Costa Rica

                                                    by David P. Stern

  This day I completed my thirty first year, and conceived that I had in all human probability now existed about half the period which I am to remain in this Sublunary world. I reflected that I had as yet done but little, very little indeed, to further the hapiness of the human race, or to advance the information of the succeeding generation. I viewed with regret the many hours I have spent in indolence, and now soarly feel the want of
that information which those hours would have given me had they been judiciously expended. but since they are past and cannot be recalled, I dash from me the gloomy thought and resolved in future, to redouble my exertions and at least indeavour to promote those two primary objects of human existance, by giving them the aid of that portion of talents which nature and fortune have bestoed on me; or in future, to live for mankind, as I have heretofore lived for myself.

              Meriwether Lewis, 8-18-1805, crossing the US continental divide

    The world is too much with us, wide and great
    If we had nine lives like a cat, we still won't see
    All things it offers. We can only extricate
    Some dribs and drabs of its variety.
    Today the sun burns, breezes blow like breath of heat
    The forest dazzles in its shades of green
    Monkeys dart to snatch peels left of fruit we eat
    Or loudly bark at us from heights unseen.
    Reptiles big and small blend with dried leaves and thatch
    Birds, butterflies and shaggy sloths their homes have here
    While we are only visitors, a glimpse to snatch
    Then back to our cool rooms, where we hear
    From where we came, reports of heavy snow
    Vanity of vanities to try all this to know.

    We take long journeys, and yet if we but knew
    The limits of what trips like this can teach
    How little in one lifetime one can see and do
    While much more lies too far beyond one's reach
    Just one thing from this travel we should know
    As long as you can breathe, you need to strive
    To do your duty, as if God had told you so
    To have some purpose while you stay alive

    "As if"--for we are never sure, don't know indeed
    Are we just like the creatures which we watch, no more?
    Like palms we see, each with its giant seed
    From coconuts swept up on the ocean's shore?
    Are we but part of Nature's complex weave
    To do our bit, depart and no trace leave?

    Life is too short, therefore we better use each day.
    To do the utmost, spend its time with care
    And never waste it--so we truly may
    Deserve our privilege to breathe this precious air.
    And not hang on like sloths and go along the flow
    In this, the only life on Earth we'll ever know.
                                                      December 2007
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Author and Curator:   Dr. David P. Stern
     Mail to Dr.Stern:   david("at" symbol) .

Last updated 2 January 2008