“….And I pity you all still at the loom of life, /You who are singing at the shuttle And lovingly watching the work of your hands/If you reach the day of hate and terrible truth.
…And you weave high-hearted, singing, singing,/ You guard the threads of love and friendship/For noble figures in gold and purple./And long after other eyes can see/You have woven a moon-white strip of cloth, /You laugh in your strength, for hope o’er lays it/With shapes of love and beauty.
The loom stops short! The pattern’s out! / You’re alone in the room! you have woven a shroud!/ And hate of it lays you in it.”
—Edgar Lee Masters, Widow McFarlane, from Spoon River Anthology.
I’ve thought, and said, for decades that I think what happens to everyone who doesn’t die young is that, one by one, the planks are taken out of the raft they’ve always used to stay afloat in the formless shifting chaos of existence. At first, maybe they think they’re jettisoning planks they never really needed. Later, it’s planks that other people decide for them that they never really needed….pretty soon, they’re clinging to a spar, and even that is splintering away. It must be a relief at last, to slip under into darkness.
Maybe I thought that put me ahead of the game? If you so clearly see something coming, If you anticipate the shock, it can’t be as bad as if it took you by surprise..?
No, that’s just an aspect of self-deception: “hope o’erlays it”, as Masters wrote.
Until it doesn’t. Until the loom stops short.
There is no escape from the “day of hate and terrible truth”.
It’s breaking now, upon my country and me.