The Advice of a Danish Existentialist
Tis not death the young man fears
No, what he fears, and this is true:
Staunch rejection of his peers,
And independence from their view.
May I offer this to you-
If you, young man, a man would be:
Know thyself and faith accrue,
And shun the faceless Crowd, like me.
Stroll the Jutland dells as free,
And be what God intends you to;
Wait in peace and you will see
Your peers will fear and follow you!
Of the Poem (Poetic Parameters and a Brief Note):
Meter: The first line of each stanza has a seven syllable count, the remaining lines are in tetrameter (eight syllables)
Rhyme Scheme: abab baba abab (notice how the end-rhyme of last line of the first stanza becomes the end-rhyme of the first line of the second stanza, and so on … I thought this offered a beautiful cadence to the poem)
Note: Søren Aabye Kierkegaard was born on May 5th, 1813, in Copenhagen, Denmark. He’s the father of a branch of philosophy that would come to be known as existentialism.
In general, he’s an individualist who praises Socrates and his quest for self-knowledge; and a man who, through a leap of faith, threw himself into the arms of God.
Jutland is the name for a peninsula that forms the continental portion of Denmark. Kierkegaard journeyed there to visit Sæding, the place where his father (recently passed) grew up as a child.
In the last line of the last stanza the word fear is to be understood as fear in the sense of awe, or reverence, like the Hebrew word יִרְאָה (yirah).