Burning Desire – I’ve always had great affection for cruel humor. I think it allows us to vent and to be ‘bold’ (as in naughty, not as in brave) and under the guise of comic relief to consciously address the mores and taboos in our society.
One of my favorites is:
Making toast at the fireside,
Nurse fell in the grate and died;
And, what makes it ten times worse,
All the toast was burned with nurse.
This and the other short poems below are in an anthology of comic verse I picked up in a secondhand bookshop many years ago. Thanks to Jadetheobscure.com, I now know it (and Billy’s poem hereunder) were written by Harry Graham under the pen name Col. D Streamer in a book called Ruthless Rhymes for Heartless Homes, published by Edward Arnold (Publisher) Ltd., London in 1898.
Billy, in one of his nice new sashes,
Fell in the fire and was burnt to ashes;
Now, although the room grows chilly,
I haven’t the heart to poke poor Billy.
What is my burning desire? Do I have one? I suppose the answer has to be NO, I don’t. What prompts us to attack something with zeal, to dedicate our efforts and even our lives to the pursuit of some goal or cause? Is it a natural drive, or is it learned?
The ant has made himself illustrious
Through constant industry industrious.
Would you be calm and placid
If you were full of formic acid?
Ogden Nash (1902–1971)
George Bernard Shaw in “Man and Superman” said “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”
Our consumer society is fast approaching the point where 80% of economic activity and consequent wealth transfer will be attributable to the production and supply of superfluous goods and services (or goods and services necessary for the production of said luxuries). In such a world, what is the unreasonable (wo)man to do?
Times of crisis are said to bring out the best in us. They also bring out the worst. Think Auschwitz, Kosovo, Rwanda. In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, a small percentage are plotting for advantage while the vast majority are hoping to muddle through without serious long term damage to their health and wealth. And a small minority are coming into contact with that spark inside that, fed and fanned, will soon rage like a furnace within, driving them deeper into themselves and out into the environment to make this world a better place.