It is, in many ways, easier to take meek capitulation than battling defeat. It would have been less stressful if they'd just gone out and batted like they have so many times this summer, and one-dayer-ed it in the first hour. Then at least we could have left off checking the bloody score all afternoon, thinking, maybe, just maybe.
It's difficult to tell whether having a stock of happy memories is a sort of armour against disappointment, grief, loss... I know that writing about it can be a way to lessen the impact, but I'm sure that being the sort of person who writes about grief and loss makes you more prone to these sorts of emotions in the first place. Some grief is very immediate, punched-in-the-guts. That's the grief of one to the flash fictions I've posted on here. Some grief is an ache. Some grief combines the two, the dull ache ever-present, and the twisting, torturing moments flashing by sometimes, but not always there. That's how Strelley is affected by his separation from Elizabeth in book IV, and I've posted several chunks of his experience on here. "The more you read, though, the more you'll see that literature is actually about losers... It's consolation. All literature is consolation." My imagined history has Edward Strelley trying to find consolation in writing, specifically the 1549 Book of Common Prayer, which contains so many of those phrases that I read with the particular cadence that my old Headmaster used to use when I was a kid myself.
No doubt These Matters and this very news feed / blog is consolation. Some of my readers might have a sense of what I am consoling myself against, as a decent proportion of what goes into the books is part-imagination, part-experience. So, here are two consolations: my own writing, and, following, just a short blast of The Nightingale...
“I serve simple folk, young man. Not like you. They do not fear the absence of God, nor do they long for the peace of death.”
“Ah, you fear for me.”
“You do not display any hope.”
“Hope for my redemption? Perhaps not. Hope that I might be with Elizabeth? No. That will be a weight I carry for my life, a burden. And I do not expect to be relieved of it in the after-life. But there is good, to be done, or felt, or received.” He takes a long draught of smoke. “My mind sometimes closes itself to that good. You have helped me to see it again.”
“God loves you, Edward Strelley. I do not know why you suffer.”
“It is because I lack faith, Sir. I know that. It is because of the pain I have caused.”
“Do you repent?”
“I cannot repent of my love for her. I wish that every pain she suffers might be visited instead on me. That she might find happiness. I wanted - I want still - to be the agent of that happiness, but I accept that I cannot be.”
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs,
Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.
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When to the sessions of sweet silent thought