After The Debacle: Facing the Next Four Years

The election is over.  We lost.  Now it behooves us to think about how we are going to face the next four years. 

For the last couple of weeks a poem has been sounding in my mind.  It is by the seventeenth-century German poet Paul Fleming.  I sent it to Governor Palin and would like to share it here.

EVEN NOW BE UNDISMAYED

Even now be undismayed, even now call loss a liar,

Yield not to fortune's blows, leave envy far beneath,

Be glad of your own self, and count it not as grief

Though time and space and fate against you should conspire.


The sweet and bitter both accept as your own choice,

As your own destined lot, and waste no thought on rue;

Await no man's command to do what you must do;

Each day shall bear new hope, at which you can rejoice.


What use to praise and blame?  His greatest woe and weal

Is each to his own self.  Whatever you behold

Is all in you.  From vain illusions disenthralled,


Go inward first, before you take your outward way.

Those who in their own selves hold undisputed sway,

The world and all therein shall do them service leal.  (my translation)

What is this poem trying to tell us?

First, we must fight depression, drawing strength, like our forebears, from values that stand above time and fortune.

Second, we should be glad that we -- and 46% of the population -- are still sane.

Third: "hope" notwithstanding, we should not give up hope for our president-elect.  People are complex and never wholly predictable.  We should beware of "hoping" that he will mess up so people will vote Republican next time; bad regimes, sadly, can entrench themselves. 

Fourth:  we should think about our own political culture -- about clarifying it, making it the best it can be, getting it across in the best way.  ("Go inward first.")  That would be the best preparation for 2012. 

Esther Cameron, poet and essayist, edits Point and Circumference and The Deronda Review.
The election is over.  We lost.  Now it behooves us to think about how we are going to face the next four years. 

For the last couple of weeks a poem has been sounding in my mind.  It is by the seventeenth-century German poet Paul Fleming.  I sent it to Governor Palin and would like to share it here.

EVEN NOW BE UNDISMAYED

Even now be undismayed, even now call loss a liar,

Yield not to fortune's blows, leave envy far beneath,

Be glad of your own self, and count it not as grief

Though time and space and fate against you should conspire.


The sweet and bitter both accept as your own choice,

As your own destined lot, and waste no thought on rue;

Await no man's command to do what you must do;

Each day shall bear new hope, at which you can rejoice.


What use to praise and blame?  His greatest woe and weal

Is each to his own self.  Whatever you behold

Is all in you.  From vain illusions disenthralled,


Go inward first, before you take your outward way.

Those who in their own selves hold undisputed sway,

The world and all therein shall do them service leal.  (my translation)

What is this poem trying to tell us?

First, we must fight depression, drawing strength, like our forebears, from values that stand above time and fortune.

Second, we should be glad that we -- and 46% of the population -- are still sane.

Third: "hope" notwithstanding, we should not give up hope for our president-elect.  People are complex and never wholly predictable.  We should beware of "hoping" that he will mess up so people will vote Republican next time; bad regimes, sadly, can entrench themselves. 

Fourth:  we should think about our own political culture -- about clarifying it, making it the best it can be, getting it across in the best way.  ("Go inward first.")  That would be the best preparation for 2012. 

Esther Cameron, poet and essayist, edits Point and Circumference and The Deronda Review.