When we are harassed by sorrows or anxieties, or long oppressed by any powerful feelings which we must keep to ourselves, for which we can obtain and seek no sympathy from any living creature, and yet we cannot, or will not wholly crush, we often naturally seek relief in poetry- and often find it too- whether in the effusions of others, which seem to harmonise with our existing case, or in our own attempts to give utterance to those thoughts and feelings in strains less musical…
Anne Brontë in Agnes Grey
All the warm effusiveness with which the dawn of the month was greeted has faded against a reality of the inner struggle. The novelty has worn off, the promises made to self and the Divine asking that bit more to be seen through. Ramadan is a scenic detour from the humdrum of conventionality. In itself it is sublime, unchanged through the years, the first ten days of mercy, the second ten of forgiveness and the last of freedom of hell, asking the same, offering the same, the potential for inner peace the same. The difference in experience is within us. I’m trying to cut down on the quotation habit but I find Mandela’s words so relevant here, ‘There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.’
Despite the sombre note in the overture above, I’m not particularly sorrowful or anxious. I’m just pensive. So in a prolonged moment of mental yoga I went digging though my archives for some conciliatory whispers from Christina Rossetti:
Daughter of Eve
A fool I was to sleep at noon,
And wake when night is chilly
Beneath the comfortless cold moon;
A fool to pluck my rose too soon,
A fool to snap my lily.
My garden-plot I have not kept;
Faded and all-forsaken,
I weep as I have never wept:
Oh it was summer when I slept,
It’s winter now I waken.
Talk what you please of future spring
And sun-warm’d sweet to-morrow:–
Stripp’d bare of hope and everything,
No more to laugh, no more to sing,
I sit alone with sorrow.