HOW WILL WE FEEL WHEN ALL THIS ENDS?

How will we feel when this dark period of history is over? 

Will we, do you think, have learned anything from it?

Many people have referred to it as an unprecedented time. And of course it is.  On the other hand, all of us who have been born since the Second World War have been lucky. When you consider what our grandparents’ and parents’ generation went through in the First and Second World Wars one can’t help feeling that what we have had to put up with – aside of course from the thousands of tragic deaths – is an inconvenience. So what if we have had to stay indoors, wear masks, give up long awaited holidays and not get close to one another?  It seems to me that we really have very little to complain about.  And it hasn’t even been a year yet!

This is not, of course, to make light of the suffering many people have experienced in their mental health, the loss of loved ones, jobs and the dreadful effect to the economy and our way of life. But, for my generation who were born soon after the Second World War, to my mind this pandemic cannot compare to the trauma our parents’ generation experienced in the 1939-1945 war.

Children were separated from their parents. Sent away -“evacuated” – to live with strangers far from home. Thousands of people in our cities suffered the trauma of bombing – never knowing when it was their home that was going to be hit, their loved ones who were going to be killed.

My parents lived close to an aircraft factory which was a frequent target for bombs. If they couldn’t get to an air raid shelter, they would hide cowering with their small baby son in the larder cupboard under the stairs – not that that would have done them much good had a bomb fallen on their home.

I am also thinking not only of all those who were killed or maimed in the war but also of the suffering of the millions who were systematically murdered by the Nazis in concentration camps and elsewhere throughout the Occupation.

So, how will we feel when this dark period of history is behind us? Much, I think, as Siegfried Sassoon wrote in his poem, “Everyone Sang.” Sassoon was 28 at the start of the First World War.  He and his contemporaries witnessed death every single day. They experienced at first hand ‘rotting corpses and mangled limbs.’

As I wrote back in May, Sassoon is one of 16 poets of the 1914-1918 war commemorated in Poets Corner, Westminster Abbey. The inscription on the stone was written by his friend and fellow war poet, Wilfred Owen. It reads: “My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity.”

Sassoon who had been decorated for his bravery on the Western Front, later became a passionate pacifist.

In 1919 at the end of the First World War, he wrote this poem.

EVERYONE SANG

Everyone suddenly burst out singing;

And I was filled with such delight

As prisoned birds must find in freedom

Winging wildly across the white

Orchards and dark green fields; on; on; and out of sight.

 

Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted,

And beauty came like the setting sun.

My heart was shaken with tears, and horror

Drifted away … O but every one

Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will

never be done.

 

Siegfried Sassoon, 1919 from Poems Newly Selected (1916-1935) Faber and Faber

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

DAY 39 – WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO US NOW?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“POEMS ARE MADE BY FOOLS LIKE ME …”

One of the few bonuses in this world wide lockdown is that we are all now able to take pleasure from beautiful birdsong.

And that was true for me too until last weekend when our dear neighbour decided to cut down a magnificent tree in his back garden.  Apologies for not knowing what tree it actually was. Suffice to say it was beautiful.  I would lie in bed and look at it swaying in the breeze, watching the birds flying to and fro from its branches. I had often thought that if I ever became so ill that I had to remain in bed that, at least, I would have this wonderful tree to enjoy.

Alas, no more.  A group of men – not socially distancing naturally – have been noisily working on the tree all week.  We have been unable to sit outside in this unseasonably good weather because of the ear splitting noise from their chainsaws. (The sound of their tools reminds me that I am well overdue for an appointment at the dentist.)  To make matters worse, we have had the incessant sound of their tinny pop music plus having to put up with all their mindless banter which passes for conversation.

Today the tree has gone. Disappeared. It as if it was never there. But the noise continues as they saw up the branches so that all the debris can all be transported away.  Aside from the tragic loss of this ancient tree – which I am sure would have been under a  preservation order or suchlike – I think of the loss to all the wildlife who must have made it their home.

I remembered this poem, “Trees”, by Alfred Joyce Kilmer who was killed in action in 1918. At least, I remembered the first two lines. The remainder I had to look up.

 

I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree.

 

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

 

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

 

A tree that may in Summer wear

A nest of robins in her hair;

 

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

 

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

 

 

With the advent of Covid-19 most of us have no doubt been going through all the stages of grief.  Denial, anger, depression and acceptance. The loss of this magnificent tree has made me feel quite bereft. It is a form of bereavement perhaps made even more intense by what we are all currently experiencing.

At any other time, OH (other half) and I would probably would have made a fuss – protested to our neighbour or to the local authority in one way or another.  Because this tree, like all the trees in the nearby gardens, was meant to be protected. Preserved. Left alone.

But now one thinks. Get over it. It’s not a human being. However beautiful it was, it was only a tree.

Much better to get upset over the estimated 178,658 thousand human beings who have died so far from Covid-19.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

 

 

 

How much time do you spend online?

According to a 2018 survey, the average person spends 24 hours a week online!

I thought of the well known quote by the 16th century poet, *Christopher Marlowe, “Come live with me and be my love ” and wrote this 21st century response:

Marlowe and Me

“Come live with me and be my love

And we will all the pleasures prove”

MARLOWE FOR BLOG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a minute while I text

And then I’ve got to blog it next

My friends on Facebook

Need to see

How very much

You think of me

But first I’ll watch that DVD

I’d love to come and live with you

But I’ve really got too much to do.

 

* “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” by Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)

smartphone image for blog

 

 

 

 

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

Thought for today

According to a recent survey, the average person spends 8 hours and 41 minutes on electronic devices.

More time than they spend sleeping. And a lot less time than they spend with their partners!

I thought of the well known quote by the 16th century poet **Christopher Marlowe, “Come live with me and be my love  … ” and have written this 21st century response:

 

Marlowe and Me

“Come live with me and be my love

And we will all the pleasures prove”

MARLOWE FOR BLOG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a minute while I text

And then I’ve got to blog it next

My friends on Facebook

Need to see

How very much

You think of me

But first I’ll watch that DVD

I’d love to come and live with you

But I’ve really got too much to do.

 

** “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” by Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)

smartphone image for blog

 

 

 

 

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems