First Friday of the Month Poem
By Bertrand Russell
Three passions have governed my life:
The longings for love, the search for knowledge,
And unbearable pity for the suffering of [humankind].
Love brings ecstasy and relieves loneliness.
In the union of love I have seen
In a mystic miniature the prefiguring vision
Of the heavens that saints and poets have imagined.
With equal passion I have sought knowledge.
I have wished to understand the hearts of [people].
I have wished to know why the stars shine.
Love and knowledge led upwards to the heavens.
But always pity brought me back to earth;
Cries of pain reverberated in my heart
Of children in famine, of victims totured
And of old people left helpless.
I long to alleviate the evil, but I cannot,
And I too suffer.
This has been my life; I found it worth living.