Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Letterbox Love

Sunday morning, walking along an East End London street I heard someone cry out. They were locked out, shouting in a letterbox, wanting their key back. On the way back home, down the same street, by now they were hunched over, hugging the letterbox crying into it.

It reminded me of the first two verses of William Blake's 'London'

I wandered through each chartered street,
Near where the chartered Thames does flow,
And mark in every face I meet,
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.

In every cry of every man,
In every infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forged manacles I hear:

How the chimney-sweeper's cry
Every blackening church appals,
And the hapless soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down palace-walls.

But most, through midnight streets I hear
How the youthful harlot's curse
Blasts the new-born infant's tear,
And blights with plagues the marriage-hearse.

Though bound by the law and whatever belief system we live by, in the end they are all creations our own. We have the free will to bind, prohibit, ban, stop, restrict ourselves...our limitations are ourselves...our 'mind forged manacles' are what restrict us for good and bad.

Chimney sweepers were the child slavery of Blake's time, the same kind of slavery we abhor in other countries who are just reaching their Industrial Revolutions. The UK just had theirs first. We still manage though to have the soldier, palace, harlot (prostitute) and sexually transmitted diseases.

I'd like to cry out against all that means we have to make soldiers or prostitutes of people, whether it is nationalism, the bourgouise, the power base whether it is royalty, government or laws of the land or of organised religions which misrepresent their beliefs to the point that people die because they go to war or die because they won't wear a condom...

Don't we have enough martyrs? Question everything. Take off your 'mind forged manacles'. Cry out. As Dylan Thomas said, 'Rage'....'Do not go gently into that good night.'

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


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