The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Thursday and South Mountain


The Calm
By John Donne

Our storm is past, and that storm's tyrannous rage,
A stupid calm, but nothing it, doth 'suage.
The fable is inverted, and far more
A block afflicts, now, than a stork before.
Storms chafe, and soon wear out themselves, or us;
In calms, Heaven laughs to see us languish thus.
As steady'as I can wish that my thoughts were,
Smooth as thy mistress' glass, or what shines there,
The sea is now; and, as the isles which we
Seek, when we can move, our ships rooted be.
As water did in storms, now pitch runs out;
As lead, when a fir'd church becomes one spout.
And all our beauty, and our trim, decays,
Like courts removing, or like ended plays.
The fighting-place now seamen's rags supply;
And all the tackling is a frippery.
No use of lanthorns; and in one place lay
Feathers and dust, to-day and yesterday.
Earth's hollownesses, which the world's lungs are,
Have no more wind than the upper vault of air.
We can nor lost friends nor sought foes recover,
But meteor-like, save that we move not, hover.
Only the calenture together draws
Dear friends, which meet dead in great fishes' jaws;
And on the hatches, as on altars, lies
Each one, his own priest, and own sacrifice.
Who live, that miracle do multiply,
Where walkers in hot ovens do not die.
If in despite of these we swim, that hath
No more refreshing than our brimstone bath;
But from the sea into the ship we turn,
Like parboil'd wretches, on the coals to burn.
Like Bajazet encag'd, the shepherds' scoff,
Or like slack-sinew'd Samson, his hair off,
Languish our ships. Now as a myriad
Of ants durst th' emperor's lov'd snake invade,
The crawling gallies, sea-gaols, finny chips,
Might brave our pinnaces, now bed-rid ships.
Whether a rotten state, and hope of gain,
Or to disuse me from the queasy pain
Of being belov'd and loving, or the thirst
Of honour, or fair death, out-push'd me first,
I lose my end; for here, as well as I,
A desperate may live, and a coward die.
Stag, dog, and all which from or towards flies,
Is paid with life or prey, or doing dies.
Fate grudges us all, and doth subtly lay
A scourge, 'gainst which we all forget to pray.
He that at sea prays for more wind, as well
Under the poles may beg cold, heat in hell.
What are we then? How little more, alas,
Is man now, than before he was? He was
Nothing; for us, we are for nothing fit;
Chance, or ourselves, still disproportion it.
We have no power, no will, no sense; I lie,
I should not then thus feel this misery.

--------

There's not going to be much in here for a few days because I have nothing to contribute that isn't rage or -- well, I was going to say despair, but really it's more rage. I had a Facebook friend whining today that someone defriended her purely because she voted for Trump and she thinks it's really mean that someone would defriend her over politics -- what if her friend is Mexican and facing deportation, or of being allowed to stay but never being able to have relatives visit? what if her friend is black and facing police aggression? what if her friend is Muslim and facing persecution as a potential terrorist? what if her friend has been sexually assaulted and now has a president who thinks women ask for it? what if her friend is Jewish and terrified from those Trump ads about a global Jewish banking conspiracy? what if her friend is gay and now has a vice president who not only wants to take away his right to marry but to put him in jail?

And the people who voted third party on the grounds that voting one's conscience is the most important thing, I think we need to have a conversation about "conscience" vs. "privilege." Sure, there are issues with Clinton as a candidate and as a policymaker. Sure, on paper the Greens and Libertarians offer things the big parties have sold out to special interests. If you can afford to throw out the status quo for revolution, you likely aren't inhabiting one of the bodies that will be flung to the front lines of the war. You aren't a minority or a woman or an immigrant or someone who desperately needs health care or someone with a disability that our new president-elect will dismissively mock. Yeah, as I said, still really angry. I tried to distract myself watching The Crown (yep, British prime ministers had issues too) and later Blindspot and Designated Survivor (both too close to home). And I took calming walks to enjoy the autumn. Fall around South Mountain:













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