It's strange how one can be so influenced in one's writing by what's going in - visually, through reading the work of other writers, or - as in this case - audibly. I've recently been listening to a good bit of Leonard Cohen's music - realise I enjoy it far more now than when he and I were both much younger, when he had the kind of voice I didn't care for at the time. But what interests me now is that with that rhythm in my brain, I've found myself thinking in a lyric metre - and that the journey there was far more seductive than the suggestion made over the years by one critic of my work that I should discipline my writing in this way.
Not that this is disciplined - and not that I took much time over it. It's a song looking for a tune, and it's a song for now, for me now and in this time, when I know that all over Britain people of my generation are going to vote to leave Europe and I feel ashamed, when politics are vile, when my friends seem self-selecting and everyone else is lost.
I also feel furious - but all that happens is a song without a melody.
But for what it's worth ...
When I think about today
and what I am and where
and the world keeps crashing in
with anger - do I care?
Well yes, I find I’m thinking,
though nothing seems to move
in the world that I inhabit
in the people that I love -
but the violence and sorrow
and the voices screaming hate
cut across my passive questions
take me out beyond my gate
to the people sunk in apathy
to the old and the unwise,
drive me far beyond the safety zone
to where the world cries.
And though I’m growing older
and common sense says fear
in my heart I’m still protesting
in my head it still seems clear
that we cannot stand and wonder
while the world dissolves in flame -
we must fight to save the future
not live content with shame.