I passed by the school where I studied as a boyBy Yehuda Amichai
and said in my heart: here I learned certain things
and didn’t learn others. All my life I have loved in vain
the things I didn’t learn. I am filled with knowledge,
I know all about the flowering of the tree of knowledge,
the shape of its leaves, the function of its root system, its pests and
I’m an expert on the botany of good and evil,
I’m still studying it, I’ll go on studying till the day I die.
I stood near the school building and looked in. This is the room
where we sat and learned. The windows of a classroom always open
to the future, but in our innocence we thought it was only landscape
we were seeing from the window.
The schoolyard was narrow, paved with large stones.
I remember the brief tumult of the two of us
Near the rickety steps, the tumult
that was the beginning of a first great love.
Now it outlives us, as if in a museum,
Like everything else in Jerusalem
Some day I will go to Aarhus
To see his peat-brown head,
The mild pods of his eye-lids,
His pointed skin cap.
In the flat country near by
Where they dug him out,
His last gruel of winter seeds
Caked in his stomach
Naked except for
The cap, noose and girdle,
I will stand a long time.
Bridegroom to the goddess,
She tightened her torc on him
and opened her fen,
Those dark juices working
Him to a saint’s kept body,
Trove of the turfcutters’
Now his stained faces
Reposes at Aarhus.
I could rick blasphemy,
Consecrate the cauldron bog
Our holy ground and pray
Him to make germinate
The scattered, ambushed
Flesh of labourers,
Laid out in the farmyards
Tell-tale skin and teeth
Flecking the sleepers
Of four young brothers, trailed
For miles along the lines
Something of his sad freedom
As he rode the tumbril
Should come to me, driving,
Saying the names
Tollund, Grauballe, Nebelgard,
Watching the pointing hands
Of country people,
Not knowing their tongue,
Out here in Jutland
In the old man-killing parishes
I will feel lost,
Unhappy and at home.
– Seamus Heaney from Wintering Out
I’m fascinated by this just as I am all history pre-common era times. There so much history that is lost due to the Dark Ages, wars and rise and fall of empires. In history class the farthest we usually go back are the Romans and ancient Greeks since that is what has been preserved. When discoveries like this are made it awakens my passion. It is the same passion with which I learn as much as I can about space, its origins and what we are doing here in this universe. There is so much we do not understand.
It is a shame that in 2019 science and learning seem to be declining. This is ironic as we’ve never had so much access to education in the history of humankind. We hold all of human knowledge at our fingertips but old beliefs such as religion still hold sway. We have an anti-vaccination movement. There are people who still believe the earth is flat. We’re more concerned about what is going on with our sports teams and our appearances than what this reality actually is. Evolution is still called a ‘theory.’
But there are those that cast off religion, that look to the stars and scientists that examine the past. I find this all so fascinating.
I want to know what this man’s life was like. Why was he hanged from a tree? Did he have a family? There he was, at the bottom of a bog while the Roman empire rose and fell. He was there throughout the rise of Christianity and Islam. He was lying there when the Dark Ages came about and through the Renaissance. He was there when the Europeans were conquering the world and through two great wars. And now he is reborn by a chance discovery and he lives again through the internet and the spreading of his story.
We don’t know anything about his people, nobody could now speak his language. So much of our human story has been lost to the ages but there he is as a reminder of all that we do not know of our own past.