This poem is for every writer who has a day job. Every person who has to work a job they don’t want to work but they have to, if just to pay the bills, or keep that all important medical insurance.
We had a big layoff this week at my day job. The mood around the place is quite glum and those of us left behind, still employed, are not too sure that we were the lucky ones.
WORK WITHOUT HOPE
ALL Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair—
The bees are stirring—birds are on the wing—
And Winter, slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!
And I, the while, the sole unbusy thing,
Nor honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing.
Yet well I ken the banks where amaranths blow,
Have traced the fount whence streams of nectar flow.
Bloom, O ye amaranths! bloom for whom ye may,
For me ye bloom not! Glide, rich streams, away!
With lips unbrighten’d, wreathless brow, I stroll:
And would you learn the spells that drowse my soul?
Work without Hope draws nectar in a sieve,
And Hope without an object cannot live.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge. 1772–1834
from Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.