No person with a modicum of intelligence, conscience and decency can do anything other than despair in the rotten to the core UK controlled neck and crop by wicked, ignorant, destructive, cruel, corrupt, inept, inadequate, barbaric, criminal, neo-fascist Tory bastards. Despair is absolutely the congruent, appropriate, rational response in such circumstances.
I don’t do denial, I don’t do self-delusion, I don’t do anaesthetising escapism, I don’t do inane optimism and I don’t do infantile wishful thinking. I do reality. Rather than attempt a futile flight from despair, I prefer to face the unbearable facts. It is, after all, only by acknowledging an awful truth that there can be the slightest chance of changing it. Therefore, paradoxically, I find that the best solution is to actually wallow in the misery – the better, perhaps, to chart a path through the nightmare.
To that end, I turn to the poets. Special people who have visited these dark places before me and, if only haltingly and temporarily, had the ability to somehow turn base metal into gold and create something beautiful, insightful and elegiac even in the deepest depths of hopelessness. And the paramount poet of anguish, desolation and sorrow in the English language must surely be Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889). His lip-smacking, lusciously lyrical verses have intoxicated me since first encountering them in O-level English Lit classes as a schoolboy, and that enthusiasm was subsequently enhanced when I discovered that the stunningly inventive and dazzling wordsmith was hugely influenced by the rhythms, metres, syntax and rich vocabulary of the Welsh language, which he learned while studying theology at St Beuno’s College in Denbighshire. In the last few years of his life, while living in Dublin (where he died of typhoid), he wrote what have become known as his ‘terrible sonnets’ for their utter, inconsolable bleakness. Like this, for instance:
No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief,
More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring.
Comforter, where, where is your comforting?
Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?
My cries heave, herds-long; huddle in a main, a chief
Woe, world-sorrow; on an age-old anvil wince and sing –
Then lull, then leave off. Fury had shrieked ‘No ling-
ering! Let me be fell: force I must be brief’.
O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
May who ne’er hung there. Nor does long our small
Durance deal with that steep or deep. Here! creep,
Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind: all
Life death does end and each day dies with sleep.
And on that counter-intuitively optimistic note, I will just add…Cymru Rydd! Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!