How to hold on to hope in a time of terror? What do you tell your children?

by Rashmee

Posted on July 5, 2016



ywldcaug6zyenyf1849o

So how does one hold on to hope in this seemingly neverending season of terrorist attacks, acts of racial hate, political pronouncements that privilege bigotry?

Read poetry.

More specifically, the late great English poet Geoffrey Hill, who died on June 30 this year, leaving behind a vast collection of poetry noted for their gnarled syntax, astonishing rhetorical power, seriousness, high moral tone, extreme allusiveness and dedication to history, theology, and philosophy.

In Hill’s ‘September Song’, the following four lines speak to the sense of drift and loss:

Roses 

flake from the wall. The smoke 

of harmless fires drifts to my eyes. 

This is plenty. This is more than enough. 

It’s therapeutic too to read American poet Maggie Smith. She took up the challenge of telling it like it is to her two children – but without extinguishing hope.

The world is at least

fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative

estimate, though I keep this from my children.

And again,

I am trying

to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,

walking you through a real shithole, chirps on

about good bones: This place could be beautiful,

right? You could make this place beautiful.

That’s from her poem ‘Good Bones’, which is included in the 2005 collection ‘Lamp of the Body’. But it’s timeless, so entirely valid still.

The full poem follows below.

Poem of the Day: Good Bones

BY MAGGIE SMITH

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.

Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine

in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,

a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways

I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least

fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative

estimate, though I keep this from my children.

For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.

For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,

sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world

is at least half terrible, and for every kind

stranger, there is one who would break you,

though I keep this from my children. I am trying

to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,

walking you through a real shithole, chirps on

about good bones: This place could be beautiful,

right? You could make this place beautiful.

 


Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK

Enter your email address: