Delirious with fever and hobbling on one foot, he broke the surly bonds of the tangled vines that had held him captive for nearly a week and soon found himself splashing in a pool of stagnant, algae-laden water. The corrosive liquid scathed his raw skin and made him grimace in searing pain. Every vine-scarred inch of his body oozed and itched.
Alone and nearly drowning in putrid green water, he called
feebly for help. His pleas were inaudible against the thunder of
the muddy cataracts which roared behind him as they spilled
their brown-green filth into the gorge in which he now
helplessly flailed. It was then, as if blessed by a sudden gift
from the gods, that he wrote his famous "Ode To Futility".
Shortly after scratching out this inspiring five-line ode with
this long fingernails on a tumescent piece of coconut tree bark,
he breathed his last breath - one final gulp of turbid, green
water that sent him choking and gagging into an uncertain
We will never know what his final thoughts were as he slid
vomiting unceremoniously into the depths of that stinking
cesspool. All we will ever know of Thurman L. Gaston are those
famous five lines, preserved on that swollen, pallid piece of
history - the original hunk of Thurman L. Gaston coconut tree
bark unto which Gaston inscribed one of the most immortal odes
Impressively, that original chunk of bark can be examined by
educators, scientists, and historians at the Smithsonian
Institute in Washington, D.C., where it has been preserved for
posterity - still covered in the original green slime and pond
scum, in exactly the same condition it was in on the day it was
first fished from the filth.
This historical bark is preserved at the Smithsonian so it is
exactly as it was when the choking, gasping, and nearly-dead
Gaston inscribed those famous lines:
"He trudged on through inequity,
Razed the false serenity,
Bought the dark tranquility,
Seized swift with vain mortality,
The sun-baked soul again."
One can only wonder how many hearts and minds these immortal
words have touched.