“This over-busy world”

I was amused to find this poem in my inbox this morning, courtesy of the Academy of American Poets:

Leisure, thou goddess of a bygone age,
When hours were long and days sufficed to hold
Wide-eyed delights and pleasures uncontrolled
By shortening moments, when no gaunt presage
Of undone duties, modern heritage,
Haunted our happy minds; must thou withhold
Thy presence from this over-busy world,
And bearing silence with thee disengage
Our twined fortunes? Deeps of unhewn woods
Alone can cherish thee, alone possess
Thy quiet, teeming vigor. This our crime:
Not to have worshipped, marred by alien moods
That sole condition of all loveliness,
The dreaming lapse of slow, unmeasured time.

Titled Leisure, this poem was written by an American poet called Amy Lowell, and I find it resonates with widespread commentary on how busy and stressed modern life is making us all.

Except… the poem was published in 1912. Which makes me wonder if all this talk about how busy we are is actually something that’s gone on for centuries — a bit like the dangers of modern media and how the youth of today are so lazy and disrespectful!

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2 thoughts on ““This over-busy world”

    • If we’re going to name a culprit I’d suggest industrialisation in general rather than specifically electricity. But yes, I suspect it’s a combination of that and misplaced nostalgia for “the olden times”

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