the strangest whim

What I've been up to

I've been dividing my time between writing, contacting potential literary agents, and being asleep-- this last because they're trying me with a new antidepressant. So far it seems to be going well, but time will tell.

Two special offers for your attention, especially if you're looking for last-minute ideas for presents:

1) Because my partner Kit and I are still both too ill to work, I've reissued Time Blew Away Like Dandelion Seed, a collection of over a hundred of my poems. You can buy the paperback from Lulu. A signed and numbered hardback edition is also in the works: I'll let you know when it's ready. (The best regular way of supporting Gentle Readers, and me, financially is still through Patreon.)

2) My good friend Katie, who is a talented photographer as well as a nursing student, was due to study in the Netherlands next semester, but then they was unexpectedly sent to Finland instead. The Finnish cost of living is rather greater than the Dutch, so they are selling prints of her work to make up the budget shortfall. Please do go and check them out.

A poem

FOR NIGHT CAN ONLY HIDE by Marnanel Thurman

When once I stop and take account of these
that God has granted me upon the earth,
the loves, the friends, the work, that charm and please
these things I count inestimable worth;
when once I stop, I learn that I am rich
beyond the dreams of emperors and kings
and light is real, and real these riches which
exceed the worth of all material things...
when thus I stop, I cannot understand
when few and feeble sunbeams cannot find
their way into that drab and dreary land,
the darkness of the middle of my mind.
yet darkness cannot take away my joy,
for night can only hide, and not destroy.

Another poem

Chesterton wrote quite a few poems about depression. I like this one particularly because it starts humorously-- literally using gallows humour-- but once it's drawn you in, it ends on a serious point about hope. Ballades are a difficult form, but Chesterton makes it look easy, though in fact he's made it even harder for himself by his choice of rhymes. It's conventional to address a prince at the end of a ballade, who is often assumed to be the Prince of Darkness (i.e. Satan): thus the end of the poem is about the downfall of evil, and perhaps the Second Coming.

BALLADE OF SUICIDE by G K Chesterton

The gallows in my garden, people say,
Is new and neat and adequately tall.
I tie the noose on in a knowing way
As one that knots his necktie for a ball;
But just as all the neighbours— on the wall—
Are drawing a long breath to shout "Hurray!"
The strangest whim has seized me... After all
I think I will not hang myself today.

To-morrow is the time I get my pay—
My uncle's sword is hanging in the hall—
I see a little cloud all pink and gray—
Perhaps the rector's mother will not call—
I fancy that I heard from Mr. Gall
That mushrooms could be cooked another way—
I never read the works of Juvenal—
I think I will not hang myself today.

The world will have another washing day;
The decadents decay; the pedants pall;
And H. G. Wells has found that children play,
And Bernard Shaw discovered that they squall;
Rationalists are growing rational—
And through thick woods one finds a stream astray,
So secret that the very sky seems small—
I think I will not hang myself today.

Prince, I can hear the trumpet of Germinal,
The tumbrils toiling up the terrible way;
Even today your royal head may fall—
I think I will not hang myself today.