Monday, June 20, 2005

Pessimism for Beginners

Here, via normblog, is a modern poem by Sophie Hannah in the fine tradition of last week's 19th Century Pessimist.

When you're waiting for someone to e-mail,
When you're waiting for someone to call -
Young or old, gay or straight, male or female -
Don't assume that they're busy, that's all.

Don't conclude that their letter went missing
Or they must be away for a while;
Think instead that they're cursing and hissing -
They've decided you're venal and vile,

That your eyes should be pecked by an eagle.
Oh, to bash in your head with a stone!
But since this is unfairly illegal
They've no choice but to leave you alone.

Be they friend, parent, sibling or lover
Or your most stalwart colleague at work,
Don't pursue them. You'll only discover
That your once-irresistible quirk

Is no longer appealing. Far from it.
Everything that you are and you do
Makes them spatter their basin with vomit.
They loathe Hitler and Herpes and you.

Once you take this on board, life gets better.
You give no-one your hopes to destroy.
The most cursory phone call or letter
Makes you pickle your heart in pure joy.

It's so different from what you expected!
They do not want to gouge out your eyes!
You feel neither abused nor rejected -
What a stunning and perfect surprise.

This approach I'm endorsing will net you
A small portion of boundless delight.
Keep believing the world's out to get you.
Now and then you might not be proved right.
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