Archives for category: Politics

Lines from Yeats’ poem have been in my head all this week, with one slight tweak:

“Things fall apart…
… everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity…

… A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs…
… And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards the White House to be born?”

And Joni Mitchell’s unforgettable interpretation of it (from Night Ride Home, 1991)

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In the past week, two African friends have made the same comment about Brexit : “Why doesn’t your Queen intervene to stop it?”

If only.

An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king,–
Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow
Through public scorn, mud from a muddy spring,–
Rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know,
But leech-like to their fainting country cling,
Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow,–

A people starved and stabbed in the untilled field,–
An army which liberticide and prey
Makes as a two-edged sword to all who wield,–
Golden and sanguine laws which tempt and slay;
Religion Christless, Godless, a book sealed,–
A Senate—Time’s worst statute unrepealed,–
Are graves from which a glorious Phantom may
Burst to illumine our tempestuous day.
 
Shelley wrote this sonnet at another low point in my country’s history, and some of the sentiments in it express how I feel following Brexit. Shelley was writing in response to the Peterloo massacre of 1819, where the British cavalry charged on citizens demonstrating peacefully for parliamentary reform. Fifteen people were killed including a two year old boy. The massacre was followed by a heavy-handed government crackdown on media and public gatherings. 
 
Let’s be thankful that, two centuries later, if nothing else, we have freedom of speech, and let’s cherish that gift.

Like so many others, I reacted with stunned disbelief at the result of the Brexit vote. I think it’s the stupidest, dumbest political decision I have seen in my lifetime, truly a major disaster for our country. I don’t want to be a citizen of an insular, self-seeking, flag-waving country that postures as a world leader while being out of step with its 27 immediate neighbours and mistrusting anything foreign.
One of the strangest things about this strange week is that I arrived in Lomé on the morning the vote was announced and since then there has only been a minimal internet connection here. So I haven’t been able to access any news on the web, express my anger on Facebook, sign petitions or look up the links friends are sending me. I’m feeling curiously cut off from my home country at such an crucial time. I’m purposely writing this at 2am in the hope that it will post. Can’t wait to get back to the village where the technology is more reliable.