Monday, 17 March 2014

Reflections on the Darker Side of Human Nature

[Update (Sept 4, 2016) A perceptible rise in hate crime against EU and other migrants in parts of the UK since the Brexit vote is as disturbing as it is appalling; another modern tragedy perpetrated by a significant but vocal minority along with racism and homophobia. Even intolerance of elderly and disabled people is not unheard of in this sorry world of ours While some prejudices are ingrained in certain socio-cultural-religious conventions, others merely service a warped ego; all need to be weeded out, and will be, but not in my lifetime, I fear.]

From time to time (or perhaps more often these days?) stress rears its ugly head and tempers become frayed. We can try and recognise the signs and stay calm, but that's easier said than done. 

Too often, we say things we don’t mean in a temper or, if we do mean them, we probably shouldn’t have said them. If the worst comes to the worst, all we can do is apologise and try and make peace. As my late mother used to say, if your head is too big to apologise, your mind is too small for it.

With some people, of course, the damage done is irreparable but that isn’t always a bad thing. Having let rip with anger, it can sometimes bring a welcome sense of relief, especially when it targets those among us with whom it is impossible to talk things through. If it gives the person with whom we have lost our temper food for thought, so much the better and we should accept any genuine olive branch gracefully. However, some people are too self-centred to concede that it takes two to make a quarrel and two to make it up. They prefer to hug their grievances to them, relating them to all and sundry as a means to gaining an invariably undeserved sympathy vote.

By the way, I speak from personal experience. When I was younger I would put up with ‘friends’ (and family) treating me badly because I knew they didn’t necessarily mean it. Even so, most would run a mile rather than sit down and talk things through. Once I turned sixty, I decided life is too short and time too precious to waste on people like that.

“Angry people are not always wise.” - Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

This poem is kenning.


I watch you, though from shadows,
and you know I am there yet choose
to ignore me, hoping I will go away
but it’s my choice to stay, observe
the way you walk, talk, seeing how
you react to what others do or say,
assessing your hurt by scratch marks
of the queerest designs you pass off
as laughter lines

I follow you about wherever you go
and you would be rid of my company
yet dare not face me with all the facts
I have gleaned over years of grooming
you for my own ends. Any resistance
is futile, though I grow apprehensive
when you mix with others who would
usurp my place, take you for their own,
share love’s crown

Years pass, and now we walk together
and you dare not say ‘no’ to passing
into the shadows with me for have I not
watched over you as I would a child?
Where can the light of the world take us
but among regrets and betrayal, along
tracks made by paper tigers that belong
here, where only leafy skies have shed
tears for centuries

I hold the hand writing history’s next page,
and am called Rage

Copyright R. N. Taber 2010; 2018

[Note: This poem first appears under the title 'The Savage' in On the Battlefields of Love by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2010; rev. title 5/18]

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