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Featured Poem: Song of Hope by Thomas Hardy

Written by The Reader, 26th May 2017

This week our Featured Poem continues the need for hope which feels so prevalent after recent events. Today we read Thomas Hardy's Song of Hope.

In times of crisis or tragedy it can be difficult to find the right words. So many of the devastated faces on rolling news over the past week have expressed the same sentiment: "I don't know what to say", "There are no words".

It is perhaps why so many of us immediately put the kettle on in moments of distress - there are no words of comfort or explanation which can cut it, but here is something we do, we can offer a cup of something hot (and maybe sweet) which will provide something vital yet unspoken. And the ritual of it, pouring water, stirring - it keeps our hands busy without occupying our minds, it is habitual, familiar - there is a comfort there that can't always be articulated. An action that speaks louder than words.

As stories emerged from last week's attack in Manchester it was the actions of everyday people which spoke louder than any police statement or news report - taxi drivers who drove concert-goers home for free, hotel staff who took children in out of the chaos, people who opened their doors to families stranded in the city, those who brought water and food to the emergency services.

In such dark times it is these glimpses of light which remind us that there is kindness in the world, that there is hope. When anger threatens to turn to hate, we have to seek out the hope - to remember the people who brought others home, rather than those who tried to prevent it.

So our poem this week is one of hope. At The Reader we know well that whenever we struggle to pin down a feeling, to express what we are going through, there will be someone somewhere on our bookshelves who has felt this way, who has captured it in a way we can't quite.

And that's important to find, because it brings us together, reminds us we are not alone. A quote we often reflect on, speaks it perfectly:

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.”

James Baldwin

Song of Hope

O sweet To-morrow! -
After to-day
There will away
This sense of sorrow.
Then let us borrow
Hope, for a gleaming
Soon will be streaming,
Dimmed by no gray -
No gray!

While the winds wing us
Sighs from The Gone,
Nearer to dawn
Minute-beats bring us;
When there will sing us
Larks of a glory
Waiting our story
Further anon -

Doff the black token,
Don the red shoon,
Right and retune
Viol-strings broken;
Null the words spoken
In speeches of rueing,
The night cloud is hueing,
To-morrow shines soon -
Shines soon!

Thomas Hardy

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