What a spectacularly rubbish week. The kind of week which makes you almost believe there are Greek gods toying with your life.

No-one died, no one got hurt, but the needless jostling of egos and the triumph of the selfish over the selfless leaves me flat as a pancake. Awful.

Clive James explains, forewarns and laments a good deal of what has driven my week in his poem Leçons des ténèbres:

But are they lessons, all these things I learn
Through being so far gone in my decline?
The wages of experience I earn
Would service well a younger life than mine.
I should have been more kind. It is my fate
To find this out, but find it out too late.

The mirror holds the ruins of my face
Roughly together, thus reminding me
I should have played it straight in every case,
Not just when forced to. Far too casually
I broke faith when it suited me, and here
I am alone, and now the end is near.

All of my life I put my labour first.
I made my mark, but left no time between
The things achieved, so, at my heedless worst,
With no life, there was nothing I could mean.
But now I have slowed down. I breathe the air
As if there were not much more of it there

And write these poems, which are funeral songs
That have been taught to me by vanished time:
Not only to enumerate my wrongs
But to pay homage to the late sublime
That comes with seeing how the years have brought
A fitting end, if not the one I sought.

I should have been more kind. It is my fate
To find this out, but find it out too late.

I hope that a time will come when those who have made my week so dire come to contemplate alone the ruins of their faces – and might come to wish they’d also played it straighter in more cases and not just when forced to.

Faith has indeed been broken far too casually. My challenge is not to lessen myself in how I respond.

2 thoughts on “Darkness

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