Life is a Shylock; always it demands
The fullest usurer’s interested for each pleasure.
Gifts are not freely scattered by its hand;
We make returns for every borrowed treasure.
Each talent, each achievement, and each gain
Necessitates some penalty to pay.
Delight imposes lessitude and pain,
As certainly as darkness follows day.
All you bestow on causes or on men,
Of love or hate, of malice or devotion,
Somehow, sometime, shall be returned again-
There is no wasted toil, no lost emotion.
The motto of the world is give and take
It gives to favours - out of sheer goodwill,
But unless speedy recompense you make,
You’ll find yourself presented with its bill.
When rapture comes to thrill the heart of you,
Take it with tempered gratitude, remember,
Some later time the interest will fall due
No year bring June that does not bring, December.
The poet has presented the karma theory in very homely and interesting manner, but with a tinge of bitterness. He compares life of the world to Shylock, the exacting Jew of the Merchant of Venice, who charges exorbitant interest for any loan offered. The sum and substance of these lines is that there are no gains without pains. In the form of labour or hardship we have to pay the price for every gift or pleasure that is bestowed upon us. As a matter of fact, the hardship and the pangs of pain that we experience outweigh the pleasures we receive. And then the irrevocable law of nature is that pain must follow pleasure as surely as day is followed by night. The poet then lays emphasis on the theory of cause and effect. Any action that we perform or any emotion that we harbour has sooner or later its repercussions, as we speak into a well the same echo shall reach our ears. The very structure of the universe is based on the formula of give and take. Pleasure and pain alternate.
The poet is a staunch believer in the doctrine of cause and effect. As we sow, so shall we reap. He exhorts us to take the stoic view on life- not to be overjoyed at opportunity of pleasure not to be found a hidden tings of Hardian philosophy in this utterance because like Jude the obscure he would not like to smile at the bloom of flowers because he knew that it is so short-lived.