On this day in 1876 the novelist Jack London was born in San Francisco. Famous for his tales of adventure and struggles against adversity such as, White Fang,The Call of the Wild and The Sea Wolf, London often wrote from personal experience as a hobo, a sailor, a jailbird, an oyster pirate and a miner in the Klondike gold rush. His work had great popularity and he was known as a man who liked to live life to the full.
Here is his ‘credo’ that he published with his short stories: “I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”
Besides writing novels he also wrote poetry. Here is one entitled George Sterling:
I saw a man open an iris petal.
He ran his finger underneath the edge,
unfolded it, and smoothed it out a little,
not as one guilty of a sacrilege –
because he knew flowers, and understood
that what he did would maybe help them grow –
though for a moment he was almost God.
Alone as we are, growing is so slow.
I think of one who tried like that to unfold
the margin of his life where it was curled,
to see into the shadows shot with gold
that lie in iris hues about the world.
Because he dared to touch the sacred rim,
does God resent this eagerness in him?
Today I reflect on the freedom that comes from the surrender of one’s will to a higher power.