old papers…

and there
like the memories
of the year
are scraps of paper
recorded history
for no good reason
in boxes
and drawers
throughout the house
boxes that no one
will ever pullout
to sort or read
to be
carried in mass
to the dump
or shredded
by some distant family member
who seeks their fortune
in what is left behind
in closets
and jewelry boxes
leaving behind
the true wealth
of my life
for they
have long
“all that glisters
is not

The popular form of the expression is a corruption of a line in William Shakespeare‘s play, The Merchant of Venice, which uses the 17th century synonym “glisters”. The line comes from the secondary plot, the puzzle of Portia‘s boxes: (Act II – Scene VII – Prince of Morocco)

26 thoughts on “old papers…

  1. ‘the true wealth of my life’ – an important distinction that too many people forget.

    But what a sad picture of your going, Charles! I’m sure you have many friends who won’t let it happen like that.

    Happy New Year; I’ve loved getting to know you in 2010 xx

  2. Nicely done, Charles. The allusion to the Merchant of Venice takes this to an entirely new level!

    A long time ago I saw a performance of the play by the Royal Shakespeare Company–totally rocked my world!

    Happy New Year!

  3. I’ve often thought that my boxes of papers will come to the same destiny, but we have a secret, don’t we? If some family member has the right kind of curiousity, the type that we have, they will go through each page like a detective scouring for clues… and they’ll find more than one, but it’s only one particular clue that they will preserve what we’ve written and it may be the most special reason to save them, for future me’s to enjoy, learn from and be proud to be connected to!

  4. That is the illusion we have of family, that somehow blood will automatically make the connection better. But, that is not always the case, as I’ve found.As one of my daughters says, we are all just people. Fortunately though, there are those that connect with us and appreciate the gifts we share, like all here who have been fortunate enough to find your “papers” here. And what a treasure we have happened upon!

  5. Your poem took me to the time my brother and I had to clear the contents of our mother’s home in a huge hurry. I consoled myself with the knowledge that her “true gold” (ingots of wisdom) was well spread throughout the family. I knew that our necessary, but seemingly insensitive distribution and discarding of her papers and files would have cut deep. I was so grateful she did not have to see it or hear about it.

  6. Ah…my home is filled in this way with notes and bits of paper that even I fail to look at…some of which has been stored and faithfully transferred from home to home for years.

    I wonder why we all do this – and yet do not make time to take a look at such mementos every now and then. If we cannot be bothered then I guess we cannot expect people to be interested when we pass away (I guess mainly I’m talking of my own dust-covered paperwork here) xx

  7. reminded me of a short story i once read .. the bits of paper if read are a good insight into a person’s life and feelings ..

  8. No bits of paper, nor even any books written of a life, can ever tell the all and everything of it anyway, but all the same, it seems highly likely that some one person (if not many more) will find value in what does not ‘glister’…

  9. Hi Charles .. you can’t believe how evocative this poem is for me now – I hope I get given the time this week for the ‘bits of (life) paper’ .. a good insight into life – beautiful with so much sadness .. thank you – Hilary

  10. that’s what I think about when someone dies — the thoughts and ideas that are more precious than any object. Extra points to you for being an literature geek 🙂

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