Freshness deep down

Thank God for the poets who jolt us and prevent us from slumbering too long.

The weariness of these years takes its toll as the weeks go by and there are only cosmetic changes to encourage us. Bread and circuses were supposed to keep the Roman people docile in the days of empire and every dictator looks for ways of distracting people from the real issues.

Decisions are made not because they are right but because they are expedient; they are the result of a calculation. The spotlight is on Southern Africa for the next few weeks and a decision to allow some papers here and there that have been banned to reappear might be a wise move to burnish the image.

The prophets, however, see through all this. The poets are among the prophets of today even if they are hardly known and less listened to. But I am not going to quote a poet of today but one of a century or so ago whose world was different from ours but who felt the same weariness we do. Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote Gods Grandeur, some lines of which are:

The world is charged with the grandeur of God,

It will flame out like shining from shook foil;

It gathers to a greatness like the ooze of oil

Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;

And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;

And wears mans smudge and shares mans smell; the soil

Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;

There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;

And though the last lights off the black West went

Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs –

To me this poem speaks of the deep wells of creation and of human resilience which will never be crushed permanently. There lives the dearest freshness deep down things means for me that people will rise up just as new shoots break through the soil to the sun. This freshness is present now: men and women are ready to work it is evident every day in Zimbabwe to build something new, something fresh, from the ruins of the present.

The poem is really a celebration of youth and hope. Yes, young people learn from their elders but only enough for them to launch themselves on a new path. They look at what the elders have done and appreciate the achievements. But if they are true to their freshness – they utterly reject the compromises, the corruption, the elitism and the hollowness that they can see in their elders. Nature is never spent. There is a Shona proverb that says the same thing, sango rinopa aneta, the forest always has something to give.

Post published in: Opinions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *