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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

[Oh could I raise the darken'd veil] - Nathaniel Hawthorne

Oh could I raise the darken'd veil,
Which hides my future life from me,
Could unborn ages slowly sail,
Before my view - and could I see
My every action painted there,
To cast one look I would not dare.
There poverty and grief might stand,
And dark Despair's corroding hand,
Would make me seek the lonely tomb
To slumber in its endless gloom.
Then let me never cast a look,
Within Fate's fix'd mysterious book.









Would you want to know the future if you could?  If you could "raise the darken'd veil?"  Hawthorne wouldn't want to know.  What if he sees "poverty and grief" there?  He'd take his own life, it seems, "dark Despair's corroding hand would make me seek the lonely tomb."  Yet, even though the knowledge of the future could be enough to make him want to seek slumber in endless gloom, he doesn't think he could change that future from grim to glad.  He calls the future "Fate's fix'd mysterious book."  It's a very pre-determined, fatalistic outlook, which makes sense, as Hawthorne was a Puritan.  Predestination is a common feature of their faith.

Personally, I have no desire to know my future.  Not because I think it is some immutable thing, I don't believe in predestination.  Rather, I feel that it's unimportant, merely one possibility out of many.  Even if I am not the master of my own fate by some cosmic design, why not let myself think that I am if I cannot change things?  It's a difficult question.  If you could know the future, would you?

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