Wednesday, February 6, 2013

February* is Known As the Most Depessing of Months, So I Guess it's the Right Month for This Topic.

Love and heartbreak are topics addressed by nearly every poet who ever drew breath, in some way or another, at some point in her writing career. For some, they are the only topics ever broached. (I'm talking to you, Romantic poets.)

But what of hate? Who writes of hatred? (aside from mournful, petulant adolescents, that is) And why might someone write of hatred when there are so many more palatable subjects to cover?

Let's be honest. Sometimes it just feels right. Like the action hero who gets the bad guy by contravening every one of his constitutional, civil, and human rights (and beating him to a bloody pulp). We don't really want it to happen, but damn, it feels good to vent. It gives us a way (venting, not beating) to deal with the frustrations we encounter in our own daily lives and our worries about the future.

In that spirit, I offer James Stephens' take on the subject.


My enemy came nigh,
And I
Stared fiercely in his face.
My lips went writhing back in a grimace,
And stern I watched him with a narrow eye.
Then, as I turned away, my enemy,
That bitter heart and savage, said to me:
"Some day, when this is past,
When all the arrows that we have are cast,
We may ask one another why we hate,
And fail to find a story to relate.
It may seem then to us a mystery
That we should hate each other."

Thus said he,
And did not turn away,
Waiting to hear what I might have to say,
But I fled quickly, fearing had I stayed
I might have kissed him as I would a maid.

*So is every other month. It just depends upon the source!


  1. I thought of my co-worker, with whom I have a love-hate relationship - well, love is too strong a word, we've agreed to try to get along - when I read this poem. They are two sides of the same thing, love and hate, aren't they?

    1. Very much so. The ones I love the most seem to be the ones who have the power to make me angriest. And I am wary of people who never get angry, because if you shut down one emotion, you can't help but shut down all of them. I'm glad you & your co-worker are making a go of it; working amid constant stress (even low level) makes all of life hard.