I saved this piece for myself but now I don’t remember where I found it, or if indeed the text here is quoted from Richard Reese.
Only poets can save us now
by Richard Reese
The story of progress – that each generation is better than the one before it is about 200 years old. These 200 years have been the most tumultuous and destructive years in the history of the planet. In fact, the history of civilization is not a story of progress, but a story of continuous decline.
The Christian tradition begins in the Garden of Eden of the hunters and gatherers. The Fall symbolizes the dawn of civilization. Yahweh, a Semitic storm god, could see that farming was destroying Creation. For much of the Old Testament, he urges his Chosen People to destroy the hideous cities of the defilers of the Earth. But the farmers beat the nomads, and the Christian prophets tell us that we are now sitting in the shadows of an onrushing Armageddon.
In the Norse myths, it’s the same cycle. The human gods conquer the powerful forces of nature, rule for a while, then are destroyed by the revenge of nature at the battle of Ragnarok. The ancient Greeks saw human decline as a series of historic ages. Hesiod writes of the Golden Age: “They lived like gods, free from worry and fatigue; old age did not afflict them; they rejoiced in continual festivity.” This was followed by the Silver Age, a matriarchal era of agriculture, when men obeyed their mothers. This was followed by the Bronze Age, a patriarchal era of war : “Their pitiless hearts were as hard as steel; their might was untamable, their arms invincible.” This was followed by the Iron Age, a time “when men respect neither their vows, nor justice, nor virtue.”
Oct. 20, 2019: I find online a composition with the same title and apparently written by the same author, but the content is very different.
- Richard Adrian Reese, Only the Poets can Save us Now (n.d.), in Aisling No. 25 (Bealtaine 1999), at Aislingmagazine.com.