Poetry explores corners of the world hidden from the bright light of natural, normal, conspicuous understanding. The language of the poet probes those dark corners, helping us think in uncommon, but quite revealing, ways. The webs of philosophy spin poets and poetry, sometimes exposing the obvious as an impostor who must be interrogated at length before f0rcing truth to pour forth like a geyser. Knowledge and belief often spar with one another until gentle jabs become brutal slashes, slicing through human decency with the speed and finesse of a surgeon’s scalpel. Blood hides just beneath the surface of the skin, ready at a moment’s notice to spill over the surface of the battlefield. Poetry is at once light and darkness; images and the shadows they cast. A person is not a poet simply because he claims to be a weaver of words; he may take comfort in words, but drape himself in tattered rags sewn from ragged threads spun by someone else. The difference between poetry and chaos is the same as the similarity between feathers and anger. Watch the sneer drip from his lips as he laughs at the questions he leaves in his wake. True poetry is not unintelligible noise, but we sometimes pretend it is when we do not wish to admit we do not understand the random pairings and clusters of unrelated words. Then, we do not “wax poetic.” Instead, we “grease poetic.” And the fabric refuses to release the stain. Artificial poetry is identical to real poetry, except it lacks the meaning and the message.


Real misanthropes are not found in solitude, but in the world; since it is experience of life, and not philosophy, which produces real hatred of mankind.

~ Giacomo Leopardi ~

I have never attempted to understand hatred, at least not with any appreciable fervor. I certainly have given thought to the emotion from time to time and wondered how it forms in the human brain, but never have I explored it with passionate intensity. Maybe today is the day I will do that. More likely, though, I will delve into the subject with moderately fierce passion, only to allow the vigor to diminish as the spike in my interest wanes. That is, after all, my modus operandi; I cannot seem to maintain zeal for anything for long. In fact, I personify the concept of “a wind blowing hot and cold.” But, wait, already I risk going off the rails—this post was not meant to be about ME. It was intended to contemplate the sensation of hatred: how and why it develops, what maintains it, and the mechanism by which it dissolves into disregard or even morphs into a more positive emotion. Realistically, I doubt I’ll get very far with those aims, though, as I am easily side-tracked. I could be the poster-boy for lack of discipline.

Think of hatred as a physical fortress. A concrete and steel edifice fortified with cannons and missiles. A castle protected by fearless, sword-wielding, eight-foot-tall robots programmed to destroy. Picture tangible manifestations of hatred. Hatred is constructed from meticulously drawn plans, the components of which are extracted from previous experiences and the expectations created from those experiences. Hatred is both a reaction to experiences and a “thing,” with mass and weight and form. It can be seen, as it stalks dark city streets and rural backroads. Hatred is an odious response to both opacity and clarity. Both simple and immeasurably complex, hatred is obvious and insidious. Humankind fiercely condemns hatred, yet passionately embraces it as if it were the only connection to both immortality and endless, lifeless, inanimation. Hatred is a paradox, because it is created by unmitigated loathing and sustained by perceived threats to people for whom we feel love/admiration or to ideas we hold dear. Obviously, the topic is far too complex to be fully and adequately addressed by an off-the-cuff blog post on a Sunday morning. Why I thought I could even begin the process with any hope of making appreciable progress is a mystery to me.


I thought I had left my career behind me when I stumbled into retirement. Somehow, though, that history caught up with me. It grabbed me and bound me with a soft twine that miraculously turned to barbed steel wire. Only the fastest and most agile retirees can outrun crippled careers; the slow, plodding, failures are sloths attempting to escape the claws and jaws of a cheetah. Fodder. We are just fodder.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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