As we have entered an era of uncertainty as we know not what the future might have for us in its store, it is a good time for us, the literary enthusiasts, to look back into the annals of literary movements and find some solace not only for us but for all who are in a pose of constant contemplation. The plague was one constant occurrence in the literary writings by the greats who wrote in English (in England). However, the lessons that we can draw from epidemics and pandemics are very fundamental and disenchanting; these lessons, to be frank, may dissuade people and propel many of us into a sophisticated renunciation. I remember the poem by Thomas Nash, A Litany in the Time of Plague. This poem has struck me once again because it re-tells the story of human vanity.
Thomas Nashe, the popular playwright and a lesser-known poet, had predicted long ago that human attachments are mostly going to be with the ephemeral things which are seldom long-lasting. While Coronavirus has hit us when we were already low because of the economic recession, it has taught its many things. It has taught us that humanity is going to survive only and only if we are to live in harmony with all the living and non-living beings on this earth. We cannot continue damaging nature anymore. We cannot indulge in wasting natural resources anymore. We cannot continue usurping the rights of will animals anymore. All these ambitions of human beings that are without any long-term vision have to stop if we want to make sure that the world does not face any more pandemics if we want to live beyond this looming doom.
In Shrimad Bhagwat Gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna that Yogi is the one who does not take from nature more than what’s required for his living. In Ramayana also, Lord Ram and Sita, Lakshman and all other Vanars and Richh of the Kiskindha Kingdom spend their lives in the lap of nature. Even in the play As You Like It by William Shakespeare, he has preached about the role of nature in human’s life. We have many examples where we find our history and our literature celebrating the role of nature in our lives. William Wordsworth also did it in his celebrated and protracted work, arguably his magnum opus, The prelude. Can we take some lessons from our literature which tells us how to make sure that the human race is in harmony with nature so that we don’t have to face pandemics like COVID-19 and others?
At the same time, we should also read the piece of literature like Orwell’s 1984. Conspiracy literature has also become the popular fodder of people these days because they want to know how low can powers that be can stoop in order to achieve their political and other goals. Is China responsible for the global shutdown? We cannot deny their roles because China’s behaviour has been dubious and their attitude has been the same. On the other hand, Trump who was otherwise furious on China has suddenly lowered his tone and began praising the Asian dubious power, China. What’s the truth?
We will have to wait and see how far can we go against this global disease. Coronavirus will be defeated, certainly, but we don’t know how soon or how late. However, once this passes, we will have to wait for the literary minds to create literature that will give us, once again, some abstract insight and some truths in the imagination. Meanwhile, spend your time wisely. Don’t step out and be home. You can indulge yourself in reading literature that will be helpful in your intellectual and emotional growth. All the best!
by Amit for Literature News