Quote of the Day: Islands

 

It is a trope that during the holiday season loneliness, anxiety, and depression grip a certain portion of the populace. Psychologists and sociologists warn us about epidemic levels of loneliness, especially in regard to increasing suicide rates, particularly among adolescents. Blame it on godlessness, the opportunities technology provides for narcissism, or what have you, our increasing isolation (literal and figurative) turns us into islands. So, John Donne:

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. 

So we are connected, even in death. That was in 1624.

In 1971, King Crimson lyricist Peter Sinfield penned a song called “Islands”:

Earth, stream and tree encircled by sea
Waves sweep the sand from my island
My sunsets fade
Field and glade wait only for rain
Grain after grain love erodes my
High weathered walls
Which fend off the tide
Cradle the wind
To my island

Gaunt granite climbs
Where gulls wheel and glide
Mournfully cry o’er my island
My dawn bride’s veil, damp and pale
Dissolves in the sun
Love’s web is spun – cats prowl, mice run
Wreathe snatch-hand briars
Where owls know my eyes
Violet skies
Touch my island
Touch me

Beneath the wind turned wave
Infinite peace
Islands join hands ‘neath heaven’s sea

Dark harbour quays like fingers of stone
Hungrily reach from my island
Clutch sailor’s words – pearls and gourds
Are strewn on my shore
Equal in love, bound in circles
Earth, stream and tree return to the sea
Waves sweep the sand from my island
From me

Beneath the wind turned wave
Infinite peace
Islands join hands ‘neath heaven’s sea

Here the loneliness of the island is overcome by the flotsam and jetsam of other islands, and underneath it all is a universal cosmic love that offers hope and peace.

But my favorite “island” poem is from Isaiah 42 (Authorized Version):

Behold my servant, whom I uphold;
mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth;
I have put my spirit upon him:
he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.

He shall not cry, nor lift up,
nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.

A bruised reed shall he not break,
and the smoking flax shall he not quench:
he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.

He shall not fail nor be discouraged,
till he have set judgment in the earth:
and the isles shall wait for his law.

The Christian interpretation of the passage is that the Servant is Jesus Christ, who brings judgment to all the earth. But that judgment is according to mercy; he does not despise the weak, but himself becomes weak. Judgment is executed on Good Friday, “[f]or he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” [2 Corinthians 5:21].

The effect of that judgment is not isolation or loneliness (“The one principle of hell is, ‘I am my own.’” — George MacDonald) but communion: with God and with one another. In our church, Isaiah 42 will be read the first Sunday after Epiphany (the Baptism of Our Lord) next year. The union of God and man in Jesus is the ultimate in joining islands together. 

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  1. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    And the Brothers Bee Gees wrote of the love between islands and that’s all They need:

    Baby when I met you, there was peace unknown
    I set out to get you with a fine toothed comb
    I was soft inside, there was something going on
    You do something to me, that I can’t explain

    Hold me closer, and I feel no pain
    Every beat of my heart, we got something goin’ on
    Tender love is blind, it requires a dedication
    Honest love, we feel, needs no conversation

    And we ride it together, uh huh
    Making love with each other, uh huh

    Islands in the stream, that is what we are
    No one in between, how can we be wrong
    Sail away with me, to another world
    And we rely on each other, uh huh

    • #1
  2. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    James Hageman: The effect of that judgment is not isolation or loneliness (“The one principle of hell is, ‘I am my own.’”-George MacDonald) but communion: with God and with one another. In our church Isaiah 42 will be read the first Sunday after Epiphany (the Baptism of Our Lord) next year. The union of God and man in Jesus is the ultimate in joining islands together.

    In pain is always opportunity to reflect on the pains of Christ and so to know Him better. You can grow close to someone by only sharing joys, but closer by sharing pains as well.

    In loneliness I have often considered the loneliness of Jesus, who in complete knowledge, perfect understanding, and perfect desires could not fully share anything with broken creatures yet in need of salvation. Those who loved Him loved Him poorly, as wills never in full communion with the Holy Spirit. They never fully understood Him or the Father’s will for the world. 

    In selfless love, Christ did not withdraw in response to such frustrations. He enjoyed the imperfect communion available to Him in friendship with the people He met, despite incomparable awareness of what better people they could be and what more they could share in Heaven. Christ’s sufferings began long before the crucifixion. 

    • #2
  3. Vectorman Member
    Vectorman
    @Vectorman

    James Hageman:

    No man is an island entire of itself; every man 

    is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; 

    if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe 

    is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as 

    well as any manner of thy friends or of thine 

    own were; any man’s death diminishes me, 

    because I am involved in mankind. 

    And therefore never send to know for whom 

    the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

    This quote has been used for other artistic items, but apparently not in its entirety. The first 7 lines were incorporated into  a popular song by the Letterman in 1965. The last two inspired an Ernest Hemingway book title.


    The Quote of the Day series is the easiest way to start a fun conversation on Ricochet. There are many days available on the December Signup Sheet, including 2 next week! We even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    • #3
  4. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    Great post.  Thank you.

    I can’t compete (nor would I try) with the great observations and interpretations articulated above.

    But since I live on an island, I gotta:

    Nibblin’ on sponge cake
    Watchin’ the sun bake
    All of those tourists covered with oil
    Strummin’ my six string on my front porch swing
    Smell those shrimp
    They’re beginnin’ to boil

    Wasted away again in Margaritaville
    Searchin’ for my lost shaker of salt
    Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame
    But I know it’s nobody’s fault

    Don’t know the reason
    Stayed here all season
    With nothing to show but this brand new tattoo
    But it’s a real beauty
    A Mexican cutie, how it got here
    I haven’t a clue

    Wasted away again in Margaritaville
    Searchin’ for my lost shaker of salt
    Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame
    Now I think, – hell it could be my fault

    I blew out my flip flop
    Stepped on a pop top
    Cut my heel, had to cruise on back home
    But there’s booze in the blender
    And soon it will render
    That frozen concoction that helps me hang on

    Wasted away again in Margaritaville
    Searchin’ for my lost shaker of salt
    Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame
    But I know, it’s my own damn fault
    Yes, and some people claim that there’s a woman to blame
    And I know it’s my own damn fault

    • #4
  5. James Hageman Moderator
    James Hageman
    @JamesHageman

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Great post. Thank you.

    I can’t compete (nor would I try) with the great observations and interpretations articulated above.

    But since I live on an island, I gotta:

    Nibblin’ on sponge cake
    Watchin’ the sun bake
    All of those tourists covered with oil
    Strummin’ my six string on my front porch swing
    Smell those shrimp
    They’re beginnin’ to boil

    Wasted away again in Margaritaville
    Searchin’ for my lost shaker of salt
    Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame
    But I know it’s nobody’s fault

    Don’t know the reason
    Stayed here all season
    With nothing to show but this brand new tattoo
    But it’s a real beauty
    A Mexican cutie, how it got here
    I haven’t a clue

    Wasted away again in Margaritaville
    Searchin’ for my lost shaker of salt
    Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame
    Now I think, – hell it could be my fault

    I blew out my flip flop
    Stepped on a pop top
    Cut my heel, had to cruise on back home
    But there’s booze in the blender
    And soon it will render
    That frozen concoction that helps me hang on

    Wasted away again in Margaritaville
    Searchin’ for my lost shaker of salt
    Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame
    But I know, it’s my own damn fault
    Yes, and some people claim that there’s a woman to blame
    And I know it’s my own damn fault

    Could I have it with a Cheeseburger in paradise?

    • #5
  6. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):
    Nibblin’ on sponge cake
    Watchin’ the sun bake
    All of those tourists covered with oil
    Strummin’ my six string on my front porch swing
    Smell those shrimp
    They’re beginnin’ to boil

    The first time I heard those words, I was a kid and my older cousin said, “Check out these lyrics I wrote…” 

    Jimmy Buffett attended the same grade schools as my dad in Mobile. He grew up going to the same beaches on the Florida-Alabama border. Paradise. 

    • #6
  7. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    “I am a rock.  I am an island.”   Simon and Garfunkel 

    • #7

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