Sunday, March 17, 2019

A beacon on the dark waters

I think probably enough has already been spoken and written about the hideous and still unfolding tragedy that took place just across what we antipodeans affectionately refer to as "the ditch" not 48 hours ago. Needless to say it diminishes us all a little as a species, and as tempting as it is to collapse into a slough of despair, that is precisely what the perpetrators of such heinous acts would want, and pretty much the last thing the brave and innocent victims deserve. Bluepepper would like to take this opportunity, however, to convey our deepest condolences to all those victims of this or any and every other act of violence perpetrated against the innocent. Ideology is perhaps best regarded as an occasionally useful tool to open a dialogue, not deployed as a closing argument. 

On the same day as this tragedy started to unfold, two other events occurred that we believe are worth noting. Firstly, the children of the world finally grew sick and tired of their elders' solipsistic dithering and took to the streets to voice their concerns over the lack of action on climate change. Bluepepper salutes their courage, passion and conviction, duly notes their frustration, and while in no way encouraging any child to skip class, we sense that the future will be in safe hands (assuming, of course, that our generation has allowed for one!)

The other signal event (at least to the international poetry world) was the passing of one of the pre-eminent poets of the past hundred years. We refer, of course, to American poet laureate, WS Merwin. On Friday 15th March this most peaceful, insightful, wise and dignified of poets died peacefully in his sleep at the tender age of 91, proving in some small way that there is still a sliver of justice in this world. The timing of his passing is significant for no other reason perhaps than that this tireless campaigner for the environment passed away on the same day as the youth of the world expressed their own vital concerns for how our species is treating the planet. As they (and Merwin) so rightly pointed out, there is no Planet B. 

Our own Bloodaxe Books copy of WS Merwin's "Selected Poems" is one of our most prized and dog-eared possessions, a great source of solace when faced with the many vicissitudes of this chequered life. If you have a minute, please indulge us while we share some of the great man's wisdom.

Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Tireless traveller
Like the beam of a lightless star

Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what

- For the Anniversary of My Death (1967)

RIP to all the innocent, gentle, loving, and good.

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