I was sleepily awake on Friday evening when BBC Breaking News informed me that Paris had been attacked by terrorists. Whilst inevitably horrified, I wasn’t shocked; sadly, the inexplicably evil acts of ISIS have become so commonplace that it’s difficult to feel anything but despair at their continued existence. After the weekend I didn’t want to devote any more of my liberated brainwaves to ISIS, so instead I decided to dwell on peace. Today I also made a sad decision which I may come to regret, so this evening I wanted to think about something more positive.
The speaker of this poem is watching the night sky and wondering how he might reorder the constellations if he could. He sees the ‘Crown of Rule’ (Corona) the ‘Scales of Trade’ (Libra) and the ‘Cross of Faith’ (Crux), and believes the bodies they represent – government, commerce and religion – are just as destructive as the ‘Sword’ of Orion’s belt. This poem epitomises everything I find difficult about modern civilisation; I don’t believe governments work for the people they serve, I don’t give a shit about having a healthy economy at the expense of the environment, and I don’t believe in organised religion. I hope this stirs a new thought or two in your mind, as it did in mine.
The Peaceful Shepherd by Robert Frost
If heaven were to do again,
And on the pasture bars,
I leaned to line the figures in
Between the dotted stars,
I should be tempted to forget,
I fear, the Crown of Rule,
The Scales of Trade, the Cross of Faith,
As hardly worth renewal.
For these have governed in our lives,
And see how men have warred.
The Cross, the Crown, the Scales may all
As well have been the Sword.