Fall and Spring
I have been weeping all week.
In case you missed it, you need to check out Van Jones’s extraordinary reaction to Biden’s election. You can find it here. He summed up America’s feelings succinctly and better than I ever could.
You never know the burden you have been carrying until you can put it down. I am in no way unique or special. Any world citizen who has been paying attention to the utter horror of US Politics in the last four years and the callous undoing of this exquisite and precious experiment we call democracy will have the same reaction.
Yes – there is still work to be done. Yes, we cannot become complacent (I’m looking at you, Georgia). And I don’t know if I will ever be mature and forgiving enough to let go of my rage and disgust at the spinelessness of those Senators who lacked Mitt Romney’s backbone to stand and do the right thing when called upon to do so. Mitt, you are off my dreamboat list after you caved on Barrett’s early appointment, but I respected you deeply for a good 90 seconds before that. Slavish devotion to power, and not true philosophical conviction, really is what drives politicians. Murkowski, you shame me to be from Alaska. Collins? You are just gross.
The poet Gerald Manley Hopkins has been haunting my thoughts as he does every fall with his sublime sonnet “Spring and Fall”. But this year is different. This year it isn’t just a melancholia in my heart. It’s a profound epiphany of loss of innocence and the loss of my core belief in the goodness of humanity. Fifty percent of people really *are* despicable when you peel back the thin veneer of civility that holds any society in tact. I have Trump and his evil minions to blame for that peeling. And the ugly surface – not even the underbelly – of what emerged has stunned me deeply.
I have always behaved as a cynic, but underneath my own facade of cynicism lay an optimism that I tried to hide for fear of looking naive. My “golden grove unleaving”, to borrow from Hopkins, has been that this optimism is, in fact, fantastical. This is a kind of profound sadness and shock that will take a long time to heal. Virginia, there is no Santa Claus.
I am a poor gardener, but I was raised by one who was excellent. On election day one of my dearest friends left a beauty berry bush on my porch to plant in honor of the Harris/Biden victory. Together we had campaigned hard for Warren, and one of my greatest griefs in this season has been that the smartest woman in the room did not make it to the presidency. What we got isn’t shabby, and I will support her – and him – with all of my heart. But Warren didn’t get there.
I have to plant that beauty berry and remember that spring will come and re-leaf the trees.
Spring and Fall
to a young child
Márgarét, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
So, there you have it.