Only dead men are sincere

Every word men speak, you may presume

Is more or less a fraud because, my dear,

You’ll find us humans at our most sincere

Wrapped in our nappies, later in our tomb.

Then we are wise at last, and all is plain,

We join our fathers down below the ground

And with bare bones we rattle truth around

Though some would rather lie and live again

by Herman Hesse

Reminds me of that sage, Solon, who said

He who unites the greatest number of advantages, and retaining them to the day of his death, then dies peaceably, that man alone, sire, is, in my judgment, entitled to bear the name of ‘happy.’ But in every matter it behoves us to mark well the end: for oftentimes God gives men a gleam of happiness, and then plunges them into ruin.”

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

30 thoughts on “Only dead men are sincere

  1. john zande says:

    Greatest number of advantages. I like that phrasing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jim- says:

    But in death we are moved upon as well, for a time of feeding worms or burning or both. Can one find the same advantage of happiness by simply not giving a fuck? Only then finding sincerity? Once I realized nothing is in my control but death, what is there to fret about? Very excellent poem. I like!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. renudepride says:

    In death we all find happiness. Life is just a little too disappointing. Have a great weekend, my Kenyan brother! Naked hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hariod Brawn says:

    “Explanations are clear but since no one to whom a thing is explained can connect the explanations with what is really clear, therefore, clear explanations are not clear. Now this is a simple thing that anybody who has ever argued or quarreled knows perfectly well is a simple thing, only when they read it they do not understand it because they do not see that understanding and believing are not the same thing.”

    — Gertrude Stein

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      Clear explanations are not clear & this proves that point

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hariod Brawn says:

        May I ask, dear Mak, which of this, Hesse’ and Solon’s aphorisms do you find most clear, and are you able to clarify why the clarity is greatest, other than it being a clear belief?


        • makagutu says:

          Hesse’s, the dead, for lack of a better word, are just there. they cannot lie to us.
          Solon’s aphorism is not as clear. Take for instance the argument of Cicero that virtue is sufficient for a happy life. And secondly that a wise man is not susceptible to grief. So if we combine wisdom and virtue in one person, do we need to wait for the death of this individual to declare them happy?

          Liked by 1 person

          • Hariod Brawn says:

            Thanks Mak. I think Hesse may be making a Buddhist point, in that for the Buddhist there is no death of any kind until the wheel of rebirth ceases in Enlightenment. And in fact, even then the Buddhist would not refer to a ‘dead’ Enlightened person, but rather, ‘remaining without the aggregates’ (aggregates being sentience and materiality, in short), the meaning of which ‘remaining’ is obscured by language, as is Enlightenment itself. They are only ‘wise’ in the sense of no longer clinging to ignorance (wrong views), and of course, have no facility to do so nor to be ‘happy’.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Hariod Brawn says:

            Just to be an ordinary human yet no longer confused or deceived by thought and belief, as there is nothing (self or soul) to be confused or deceived (there never was, other than in erroneous thought and belief themselves). Something like that.


  5. Eric Alagan says:

    I agree. Once they are dead – they can be anything we want them to become – even god.

    “Please drop ten percent of your wages as you enter and you’ll receive the keys to heaven,” said the priest.

    Best joke ever. I rolled on the floor laughing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. shelldigger says:

    Maybe I’m an oddball (yes, I know) but I see this as, death strips away all of whatever we may believe of ourselves. Right or wrong, rich or poor, death equalizes us all. No matter what we may have thought of our selves, death does make us wise, as it strips away the hype, the bullshit, the ego, and leaves us with nothing but our near future of feeding the worms.

    I think tRump is a pretty good example of what Mr. Herman Hesse was trying to convey.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. shelldigger says:

    Here’s to sincerity and hapiness 😃

    Liked by 1 person

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