Empedocles and You and Me 

Perhaps you’re not ecstatic
About any pre-Socratic.
I, though, obtain comfort from
The theories of Empedocles,
Even if they aren’t true

Though, maybe they are —
Not the fourfold roots,
But that which animates these,
Permutating that which is:
Eros and hatred.

Well, of course it’s Manichaean
Which is démodé — but who’s to say
It just may be the way things work:
The endless, birthless universe
Expanding and contracting
In an infinite succession;
Hatred pushing things apart
And love the opposite —
Both ever-present, blending
Into every entity you see —
Yet one force always dominates —
This alternates — there’s love, then hate,
Dispersion, concentration, ad infinitum.

And if he’s right,
And this is the advance of strife,
All elements will move apart
And join with all their own
Until the cosmos is composed
Of only abiotic unities
Until love brings them back to life
And, in its vanquishment of strife,
Agglomerates the elements
In one great cosmic harmony
Which has some implications,
Worth considering, for history —
Reversals, among other things —
And what if, since
(As we now know
That matter’s only energy),
Love and strife is all there is,
We might remove ourselves from this
Advance and reign of strife,
And put an end to it.

Elliot Sperber is a writer, attorney, and adjunct professor. He lives in New York City and can be reached at elliot.sperber@gmail.com and on twitter @elliot_sperber

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