Escher got it right.
Men step down and yet rise up,
the hand is drawn by the hand it draws,
and a woman is poised
on her very own shoulders.
Without you and me this universe is simple,
run with the regularity of a prison.
Galaxies spin along stipulated arcs,
stars collapse at the specified hour,
crows u-turn south and monkeys rut on schedule.
But we, whom the cosmos shaped for a billion years
to fit this place, we know it failed.
For we can reshape,
reach an arm through the bars
and, Escher-like, pull ourselves out.
And while whales feeding on mackerel
are confined forever in the sea,
we climb the waves,
look down from clouds.
~From Look Down From Clouds (Marvin Levine, 1997)
I first chanced upon this poem on Martin Seligman’s book “Authentic Happiness”