Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Sunday, April 6, 2008

On Certainty

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
"Pooh!" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you."
-A. A. Milne

During the 1950s and 1960s in England, the piano comedy duo of Flanders and Swann brought hearty laughter and pause for thought to many listeners. A good deal of their act was given to lively talk and banter between the two friends. Their witty, tongue-in-cheek routines touched on everything from talking animals to the merits of bath time.
In one such piece that I play often, they discuss the lack of a 'proper' national song for England. They bemoan an understated line in 'Jerusalem,' a popular and patriotic tune sung often:

"'There'll always be an England.'
Well, that's not saying much, is it? I mean, there'll always be a North Pole- if some dangerous clown doesn't go and melt it."

How curious that Flanders and Swann chose the most steadfast, safe and reliable thing they could imagine, to emphasise their point. They used the North Pole's permanence as an example of a mundane stating of the obvious. Now, not so many years later, that is coming undone, slowly, frighteningly. Our beloved and vital Polar world, that constant staple of our general knowledge, that beacon of enduring assurance, is melting at the seams and obliterating all that we thought we knew and could forever rely on.
The North Star, the rising sun, the tides: we use these as compass for our daily lives. When Flanders and Swann sang their little ditty, they could not have foreseen that the North Pole would come to so much harm and threaten the only world we have.


Anonymous said...

Lovely post, and how appropriate to quote that lovable pair Pooh and Piglet. I hope that when I reach for the North Pole that I can be sure it will still be there to touch. While I 'feel' for the world much like yourself, I take comfort from the fact that I am not alone in my thoughts.


Pappy said...

Never fear. What this old world loses at one end it gains at the other. She a resilient old girl. We should be good stewards, but very little we do can really be linked to lasting changes in her historical cycles. Alarmist with agendas having nothing to do with good earth management try and control our lives with fear tactics under the guise of protecting us. Their pseudo-science and manipulated statistics do not stand the test of our earth's history. She changes, and sometimes with disasterous results to those of us living here, but so far, we have been able to withstand her natural cycles, and nothing that man has ever tried to change in her nature has met with anything but disappointing failure. I am satisfied in doing my part to preserve all I can, but I believe the ultimate controller has much larger hands than mine.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

You can't beat Winnie the Pooh for comfort, in any situation. Your words are lovely! Keep reaching :)

We have to do what we can, like you said. Everyone should do their part.

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