Up late the other night playing with my new toy. Too late. I felt half hung over the next day. We’ll say it was the late night, not the bag of crisps and the bottle of knockoff champagne I put away while I was loading apps.
I installed the Poetry Foundation’s poetry spinner. When you open it, it randomly selects two different themes, like ‘anger’ & ‘spirituality’ or ‘frustration’ & ‘celebrations’, and gives you a list of the poems where they intersect. I already have it on my phone.
Those moments when there’s not enough time to do anything but too much time to do nothing–waiting in queue at the post counter, riding three stops on the bus, when the person I’m with has to make a call–I fill those moments with poems.
Past the end of the bottle, in the small hours, I was lying on the sofa, too tired to read, to lonesome to go to sleep, and spinning up poems. Letting the machine read to me. Not all of them have audio, but enough.
I found myself listening to Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If—‘. I’ve never paid Kipling much attention. Not out of any particular dislike, but maybe because he’s often lauded as a Victorian poet and so I anticipate him as stodgy and socially moribund. I perhaps do Mr. Kipling a disservice. Some of ‘If—‘ seems as relevant to navigating the shark-infested waters of the internet & social media today as Victorian society of yesterday.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
The more old literature I read, the more I’m struck by how little we, as a species, have changed in the course of human history. We have shinier tools, but the characters of the animals wielding them are the same as we ever were.