Tag: possibility

starting over

I’m half Scottish but I’m also half Sassenach, and I’ve never really “got” the whole Hogmanay frenzy. New Year’s Eve has often felt tainted with melancholy for me, in a sub-Larkin ‘Death [is] a whole year nearer now‘ sort of a way. This year, though, when surely most of us are hoping for better things to come, I feel really drawn to this poem, the beautiful ‘New Year’s‘ by Dana Gioia. See what you make of it.

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difficult thoughts

When times are hard, is it helpful or appalling to read something and realise that times have been hard in the same way before (and therefore probably will be again)? Mostly, as you’ll know by now, I tend to think it’s helpful to read and know you are not alone; but when today’s poem presented itself for duty in my head, seeming apt for the times, resonant and gloomy, I did initially feel a bit droopier than I already had been. So, see what you think: do you feel droopier when you read ‘The Leaden Eyed‘ by Vachel Lindsay? (Note: in versions I’ve seen in print there is a stanza break between lines 4 and 5, which doesn’t appear in this online version.)

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the joy of autumn

I don’t know if it’s because one way and another I ended up spending a ridiculously long time in the academic system—schoolchild, student (several times!), lecturer, then student again—but to me autumn has always felt much more like the beginning of things than spring. The changes in light and landscape always wake in me a quiet excitement, a sense simultaneously of possibility and openings and yet also, with the longer evenings and nights, the opportunity for peace, retreat, renewal. That probably sounds paradoxical, I know. But it’s true. So that’s what this hymn to November is about.

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