Saturday, 10 December 2016

Fin de siècle

My poem today just evolved as I wrote it, and went off on its own path, and I just followed on. It's a kind of reflection on this year just past, at this eleventh hour before the year ends, but that moment of reflection also reminded me of Shakespeare.

Falstaff: We have heard the chimes at midnight Master Shallow.
Shallow: That we have, that we have, that we have, in faith Sir John we have;

This has been a strange year, an unsettling year, and a year in which many values of generosity of spirit, of kindness to the stranger, of respect for the past, seem to have been tossed to one side.

Fin de siècle

Now it felt like the end of times,
Master Shallow, Midnight chimes!
A time of endings, a time of war:
The tide is rising on the shore;
Who can say where we will be,
A year hence, tossed on the sea?
The restless ocean, mighty waves:
And shadows of Platonic caves;
I feel it in my bones: this change:
The world becomes so very strange;
I beheld Nineveh: was torn apart:
The temples, and the ancient art,
Blown asunder, turned to dust,
And everywhere is lost of trust;
Strangers shunned and sent away:
No hospitality, to come and stay;
Mean and narrow spirits rule,
And often words can be so cruel;
Such promises were made, all lies,
Pander to the mob’s dread cries;
“Oh pity me”: sandpiper’s song:
And pity those who don’t belong;
The foxes find their clever holes,
A testimony to narrow goals;
Birds find nests in which to rest,
Do not share that they are blest;
But migrants find no place to stay:
Rest their weary heads, they pray;
Darkness comes, the light is lost:
And everyone must pay the cost;
The hermit with the lantern high:
And at the door, do not pass by;
Open the door, and let him in,
Where or not he be close kin;
Brothers and sisters we are all:
We stand together, or we fall;
Behold the stranger at the door:
The light is shining to adore.

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