Like many other people, I’m entering my fourth week of Lockdown. I get to go out for a walk once a day for an hour or so I’m not a total shut-in, yet, what felt like a holiday in week one has now curdled into house arrest, with my immediate neighbourhood as my exercise yard.
I know that my situation is a privileged one. I have no financial worries, I have enough food. I’m not working. I’m an introvert. I like my own company. I like spending time with my wife. I love to read and to write. I have a nice garden to sit in when the sun shines. So I have nothing to complain about.
Except that, all across the country people are dying who needn’t have died, that the people trying to save them are risking their lives because they haven’t been given the right protection, that my government is more concerned with image management than with practical action, that this virus has sliced like a knife through the belly of our world and we’ll never be able to put everything back together and that there is nothing I can do about any of it.
The lockdown that has gifted me time has also stolen my peace fo mind. I’m not looking out across a landscape of Lockdown opportunities to indulge my creativity by reading and writing every day to the end of June. I’m too distracted by listening to the clock ticking in my ear, counting down the world I knew and ushering in the brutal birth of a new reality buffetted by pandemics, climate collapse, the deconstruction of democracy, the concentration of power and the scramble by the megarich to build enclaves that they can survive in while the res of us beg for scraps.
It’s Easter Monday today, An April Easter rather than a March one, so it’s sunny, the sky is clear and all around me, plants are bursting into bloom as if they were applauding the day. I thought I might reclaim my peace of mind by concentrating on welcoming spring and the renewal it brings, so I went in search of Easter poems and found one by A. E Housman.
I smiled when I read that the twenty-year-old Houseman was driven by having only fifty springs left to him (in fact he lived to be seventy-seven). I’m decades ahead of him so my need is more urgent. I don’t have time to wait for the geopolitical structure of the world to realign itself. I need to look for beauty and peace where I can find it each day.
Today, I offer you this poem and the hope that your Easter has been blessed with blossoms.
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now Is hung with bloom along the bough And stands about the woodland ride Wearing white for Eastertide. Now, of my threescore years and ten, Twenty will not come again, And take from seventy springs a score, It only leaves me fifty more. And since to look at things in bloom Fifty springs are little room, About the woodlands I will go To see the cherry hung with snow.