Clouds and silver linings

My eternal optimism has deserted me. The way things are going in Canada is depressing, with the right-wing Stephen Harper having won a majority vote which gives him another 4 years to work on making Canada less canadian, starting with cutting 4 billion in government spending. More depressing is the situation in Pakistan – poor, ravaged country, carved up and blasted from within.
And here in the UK, with funding cut for the Arts, libraries, education, and now the AV vote lost… I’m looking hard for the silver lining, with little joy.

The neighbours are having a barbecue party, the sound of talking and laughter is drifting into the quiet house.
‘All will be well’, as Nathalie’s mother says.

I have just remembered the latest copy of Modern Poetry in Translation – Poetry and the State, which came through my door 2 days ago, late but perfectly timed. The silver lining. Opening it, I read David Constantine’s editorial, where he says:
“No state, however liberally organized, can embody the freedom to be plural, various, to entertain and essay all possibilities of being human.”
Later, talking about the nature of our present State, he goes on:
“…Scarcely able to believe their good luck, the idealogues in office are surfing a wave of relative economic woe (we are still a rich and fruitful land) to undo what is left of the res publica and shove to the wall anything that can’t pay its way in our devalued pounds and pence.
Poetry can’t and shouldn’t try to pay its way like that. Poetry defends itself against a State hostile to humane letters by being itself. A chairman of a bank was on the radio the other day saying that of course he must pay his top men fairly – by which he meant pay them as unfairly as his competitors are paying theirs. You know where you are and where you stand when you hear language used like that. It reminds you why poetry and fiction are necessary. Seeing ever more clearly what they are like, these chairmen and their top men who run the show, people will turn to the arts for solace, encouragement and strengthening.”

All this silver and I am only on page 3 of a book I know will be full of riches.

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