Thursday, March 21, 2024

A Sonnet from George Santayana



O world, thou choosest not the better part!
It is not wisdom to be only wise,
And on the inward vision close the eyes,
But is wisdom to believe the heart.
Columbus found a world, and had no chart,
Save one that faith deciphered in the skies;
To trust the soul's invincible surmise
Was all his science and his only art.
Our knowledge is a torch of smoky pine
That lights the pathway but one step ahead
Across a void of mystery and dread.
Bid, then, the tender light of faith to shine
By which alone the mortal heart is led
Unto the thinking of the thought divine.
-George Santayana

This is from Santayana's first book of poems, titled Sonnets and Other Verses, of 1894. After posting a poem about George Santayana last week, I went and found those few poems of his that I have around here (four sonnets are included in this collection) and this is the one I liked the best. This book is early in Santayana's career, and I suspect this poem is early even within that selection.

George Santayana (1863-1952) is better known as a philosopher, but it turns out wasn't a bad poet either...😉


  1. That would make for a good memorisation project!

    1. I think it is likely to end up memorized. (Most of the poems I post are ones I either have memorized or plan to.)

      Are you a memorizer?