The Strong are Saying Nothing

Robert Frost is one of our greatest American minds — and the delivery method for sharing his genius was the poem.  On November 17, 2005, I wrote — Humility in Adoration — for Urban Semiotic, where I described the moment Mark Van Doren introduced Robert Frost to adoring fans at Columbia University in the City of New York:

The lesson of Coriolanus was echoed decades later by the genius American poet Robert Frost in 1950 when he was accepting an award at Columbia University. Frost whispered to his good friend — and fellow genius — Columbia Faculty member Mark Van Doren, that he didn’t think he deserved the award he was getting, but he felt it would be rude to go against the will of the people who wanted to honor and admire him.

Van Doren smiled, agreed, and introduced the great poet to a Columbia crowd who provided a thunderous standing ovation for Robert Frost. Mark Van Doren used that private discussion with Robert Frost to explain Coriolanus’ downfall in human terms his Shakespeare literary students could understand. The learning we must curry from Coriolanus and Robert Frost and Mark Van Doren is how we must all willingly accept praise and compliments from others without questioning intent or assuming there is a hidden purpose behind the kindness.

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Humility in Adoration

The lesson of Shakespeare’s play Coriolanus is that a King can fall if he does not humbly accept and respect the necessary love of the people.

When a leader fails to acknowledge the ecstasy of those in need of protection and refuses to accept the process of governance, the unfortunate result is a turning of the people against the power that can topple a regime and its civilization.

Coriolanus, though a King, could never rise above being anything more than a savage warrior who treated those who adored him with a poisonous disdain and his inability to accept what he viewed as unreasonable affection led him down to betrayal, treason and into his own death.

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