Back Into the Wasteland, Again

The Hollow Men 5

Yesterday was about as depressing as a post consisting of videos could possibly be. Sometimes to me, and to Britons who remember a Britain that was much better, as many of us do with America, it is heartbreaking. But as we all know, facts don’t care about our feelings. We must carry on, and do the right things in the right way. This article of Jess’ touches on the theme.

If you found yesterday’s videos as bad as I did, chronicling the decline of the civilization that built the modern world, well, it speaks to that. Here’s Jessica –


 

Into the Wasteland

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

The opening lines of T.S. Eliot’s 1925 poem speak with eloquence to any age and people who feel disconnected from what they feel is a calamitous and collapsing socio-political world.

Eliot was writing in the aftermath of the most catastrophic war in the history of the Western world. It was the war when hope died. How could one believe in progress after the Somme and the horrors of the Western Front? And what had all of that slaughter been for? A settlement at Versailles which few believed would really bring peace to the world.  Men like Wilson and Hoover, or MacDonald and Baldwin, seemed small men facing giant problems, and sure enough, within fifteen years the world had once more descended into the abyss.

Does the fault lie in our leaders? They do, indeed, seem to be hollow men, with heads stuffed with straw. The words of Yeats’ Second Coming seem apposite to our times:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

Writing in 1919, Yeats wondered:   

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand

But it was not so. In Lord of the Rings, Frodo tells Gandalf that he wishes he did not live in the time he did, when such dreadful things were happening. Gandalf’s reply is for all of us:
‘So do I,  said Gandalf, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’

It is not for us to decide such things. All each of us can do in the end is to decide how we live our lives and by what star we steer. Those of us with a Christian faith, like Tolkien himself, know we are strangers in this world, and we know by whose star we steer. We can rage all we like against the way the world seems to be going, so did our forefathers, and so will our descendants. Eliot ends with a dying fall:

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

But Yeats, in best prophetic mode wondered:

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

For me, Eliot’s words in Ash Wednesday ring truest:

Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently, I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us


That’s pretty much what the world feels like, increasingly to me, at least, it seems that we may have to simply burn it down and try to rebuild in the ruins. But I continue to hope not, so we will see. And there is hope.

In the United States for all the cacophony from the left and the media (yes, I repeat myself) we seem to have at least arrested the regression and in some ways are returning to our self-imposed mission to keep the torch of liberty lighted. Where we lead, others may well follow. If you remember, when Cassandra opened her box of troubles, the one thing left in that accurséd box was hope.

In many ways, Kipling in ‘A Dead Statesman’, written around the end of World War I, asked the question I think our political leadership should have to answer

I could not dig; I dared not rob:
Therefore I lied to please the mob.
Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale shall serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?

But he also wrote the inscription for the war dead of Sault St. Marie, Ontario, Canada, which ends:

From little towns in a far land, we came
To save our honour, and a world aflame;
By little towns in a far land, we sleep
And trust those things we won, to you to keep.

Dare we break that trust? If we, the Anglo-Saxons, don’t do it, it will not be done.

As Jess said above, we don’t get to pick the era in which we live, we are simply called to do the best we can. And so we shall, God willing.  Neo

 

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About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

One Response to Back Into the Wasteland, Again

  1. Reblogged this on Boudica2015.

    Like

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