The Han Has Breached the Gate

“For all we have and are/For all our children’s fate,/Stand up and take the war:/ The Hun is at the gate!/ Our world has passed away/In wantonness o’erthrown/There is nothing left today/But steel and fire and stone!

Though all we knew depart/The old Commandments stand:/In courage keep your heart,/In strength lift up your hand.”

—Kipling, from For All We Have And Are (1914) 

We engaged in a little non-essential travel last night, driving down Rte 611 just at dusk.  It was like 2AM.  The lights are still on (for how long?  Do we really “need” to expend all that power?  We might need it to gin up more’n’ more ventilators!).  but any message boards and any signs we could read merely warned people away.  You could not look anywhere without seeing the forbidding pitch-dark interiors where—just one month ago!—people meandered among the wares just for the pleasure of choosing what, or whether,  they would buy, what they would eat! There were  lines of cars at McDonald’s and Wendy’s, I would wager occupied  and driven by people who had never entered those places .  Fast food, (“fasting” food?) junk food…that’s our portion now.

“Comfort, content, delight,/The ages’ slow-bought gain: /They shriveled in a night/Only ourselves remain/To face the naked days/In silent fortitude..”

In referencing the Hun, Kipling was invoking the specter of an oriental invasion inimical to the cultures it attacked, even though WWI was pretty much an internecine European war.  But his verse is prophetic as to what we’re facing today.  The Han rises again.  “Shriveling” is the mot juste to describe what they, through our own leaders! have  wrought.  We are running bare-breasted into their wicked blades.

That other alien, Bin Laden, tried it on:”America is filled with fear !”  he rejoiced after 9/11.  For  a few days, a week, it was true.  But it soon became obvious he didn’t have enough embedded agents here to  keep us cowed.  And they were but men: we could seek them, seize them, hold or expel.

Not so with the  invisible fierce minuscule  Chinese warriors today.  We carry them amongst us, transport them to our own families, unaware.  We fear and shun each other.  “Our world has passed away/In wantonness o’er thrown”…to my ears, the word “wantonness” here isn’t negative, it means plenitude, luxury.  At the height of our material success, after great and unprecedented victories against poverty and hunger, worldwide! We have been terrified into abhorring, turning away from those things!  They’re still there, in those dark stores, rotting in those shuttered restaurants.  But to us, now, they are poison and we will starve, shiver, shrivel despite their proximity.

“In strength lift up your hand” ?  I don’t know: our own hands now are enemy agents, troop transport! stealthily boarded by  tiny sappers from whence they colonize our friends, from which they disembark to enter our eyes, our noses!  “Hand” has always been a metonym, for camaraderie, for strength, for unity, for power!  Now, we are forbidden to touch anyone else’s hand, and enjoined  even to raise our own hands to our own faces. Our  very language will never be the same.  Scrub, abrade!”All the perfumes of Arabia/Will not sweeten this little hand!”

“In courage keep your heart!”

….can we?

20 thoughts on “The Han Has Breached the Gate

  1. I agree but none can know what the world will look like on the other side.

    I wish the ChiComs would have asked for my thoughts before they unleashed this plague onto the world. The problem with bio-warfare is, once unleashed, its Pandora’s box of death and destruction which nobody can control, not even the devil’s spawn.

    Judging by the world’s reaction, my guess is this in not just a novel form of influenza.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Especially priests in Bergamo and Brescia, dying by the day, as they accompany the sick and the dying – elsewhere too, but there most notably, first.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We engaged in a little non-essential travel last night, driving down Rte 611 just at dusk. It was like 2AM.

    It took about four or five readings before I got this.
    ST Unleashed! turn of phrase of the Year of the Rat-19. Congrats dude.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks for reprinting this.
    But as to my final question: I don’t think we DID “in courage keep our heart”.
    Still it s salutary to be reminded of the bleakness of last spring. Things are cheerier now, for sure. I just hope they’re not gearing up for another such experiment.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It seems we are almost all now in agreement that the avant-garde were there first as is their wont.

    Sorry, I must say conspiracy theorists now that to be avant-garde is to live with foxtrotting bullseyes on one’s kidneys.

    Liked by 1 person

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