I return to Thomas Hardy like the a sea that has roamed returns to shore, thinned out. How well he has described the abstract source of where one feels misunderstood, an outcast. He writes of clouds that "echo back the shouts of the many and the strong ... Till I think I am one born out of due time, who has no calling here." One specific illustration I could give of this is: in the face of the new rhetoric in education, according to which students are to develop skills in "confidence," standing up instead for skills like using appropriate vocabulary, making arguments that are well supported, knowing how to make concessions - which build real confidence, though difficult to achieve, and also requiring that miracle of communication: good will.
But there is not always good will, many are the charlatans that wander the square with magic teaching ointments. But "magic" comes from the Persian word for power, and indeed, the ointment works in indoctrinating into a certain form of power that bullies alternative paths to learning as "difficult" in its secondary sense, and so it is that such paths are obscured.
"Let him in whose ears the low-voiced Best is killed by the clash of the First, / Who holds that if way to the Better there be, it exacts a full look at the Worst, / Who feels that delight is a delicate growth cramped by crookedness, custom, and fear, / Get him up and be gone as one shaped awry; he disturbs the order here."
Hardy's name gives away, I think, part of how this should be read. He writes it himself: to hold "that if way to the Better there be, it exacts a full look at the Worst". The glance at darkness is not the final destination.
The excerpts are from "In Tenebris II", meaning "in darkness" and in the third part to this trinitating poem, he begins with an excerpt from Psalm 120, in which the phrase, "woe is me" originated; in fact, he quotes that very line, "woe is me, that my sojourn is prolongued". It is a Psalm about finding oneself amidst the treachery and falsehood of barbaric strangers.
But there are unsaid implications of the Psalm cited, like its notion that justice will find a way. We know from the title of Hardy's poem, "In Tenebris" that it is part of a longer phrase, "lux in tenebris" (John 1:5). This does not assuage the pain of problems, but can bring relief on some level: one was initially castigated precisely because one held that better can be attained through worst.

Magazine in background: Marie Claire Idees; brush: Ewansim at DeviantART.

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