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The poem “George Gray” by Edgar Lee Masters is voiced by dead man who is pondering the ironic design of his gravestone. The marble sailboat seems a most befitting symbol for his life-a tool of potential motion and adventure, encased in stone. George Gray lived a small life of safety and comfort. In avoiding risk, pain, and adventure, he also missed out on all the things that make life sweet and give it meaning. He whispers to us to not make the same mistake, to live life to its very fullest so that at its end, you may have no regrets as to the things you wish you had done and the man you wished you had become.
By: Edgar Lee Masters
I have studied many times
The marble which was chiseled for me —
A boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbor.
In truth it pictures not my destination
But my life.
For love was offered me and I shrank from its disillusionment;
Sorrow knocked at my door, but I was afraid;
Ambition called to me, but I dreaded the chances.
Yet all the while I hungered for meaning in my life.
And now I know that we must lift the sail
And catch the winds of destiny
Wherever they drive the boat.
To put meaning in one’s life may end in madness,
But life without meaning is the torture
Of restlessness and vague desire —
It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.
Submitted by: Chris Hutcheson
Last updated: October 12, 2015