‘The falcon cannot hear the falconer’


My blogging buddy, I call him CBC, made an insightful comment in response to my latest rants against the current actions- and lack of response to questions about those actions- of our elected government officials yesterday.

He hit the nail on the head. AND made me all glowy with the realization that there are people out there who still can- and will- quote Yeats.

I love Yeats. I’ve talked about that before (when speaking about a beloved band and in the context of my enduring love affair with a number of Irish poets.  No one writes like the Irish. No one).

I’ve always considered Easter 1916 my fave (although The Stolen Child comes close)- and, given what week it is, that little gem is an appropriate theme to recollect as people the world over wear the green.

Words. They can be so beautiful when they are strung together with finesse that their perfection physically hurts. I just re-read Easter for the first time in a long time. Ouch.

He has this other poem, though, that reallyreally speaks to a place to which my brain has been turning more often than not, of late. Its very title sooooo speaks to my wheelhouse, my heart’s home, the focus of my days… Thanks for bringing it back to the forefront of my head, CBC (as I keep writing, trying to make sense of my whirring thoughts, I can’t stop remembering a paper I wrote about the poem, oh so very many years ago. Wish I knew where that was…).

The Second Coming was written, with all its wondrous apocalyptic imagery, as an allegory for post-WWI Europe. Such was the confusion and societal flux after the war that the anxieties seemed to be spinning out of control in a world in which the centre, the foundation, had been completely lost- or, perhaps, just forgotten.

Yeats spoke in terms of ‘the gyre’- which begins at a point and spirals ever-outward from its origin. The image represents an historical cycle- one of about 2000 years, beginning with the birth of the Xian era. He believed that all history is cyclical, and that his time, the beginning of the 20th century, marked the end of the Xian cycle. The new era- of industrialization and materialism and warfare (enacted on a global scale)- slouches from its cradle in response to the anarchy that has been loosed upon the world.


Chills. You see, the gyre has spun so far distant that it can’t remember its origins.

Part of this separation from our foundation?

‘The falcon cannot hear the falconer’.

I’m sort of thinking that the real problem- the one in the here and now, the one that I was railing against yesterday and the day before, heck, the one I’ve been railing against in most of the posts I’ve ever written on this here blog- the one that’s leading us inexorably to things falling apart completely? It’s more about the fact that the falcons are actively no longer listening to the falconers.

Indulge me as I extend a metaphor, for a second, won’t you?

Falconry, the hunting of wild game in its natural habitat using a trained bird of prey, has been around for a really long time. Like, since my friends in Mesopotamia were setting the stage for civilization and writing the foundational myths that would contribute to the development of that Big Book O’Stories that certain people, still, like to quote oh-so-very-much.

The falconers train and direct the falcons. They guide their development. There is a close relationship of respect between the trainer and the bird- and the bird is meant to hear and respond to the directives of its trainer as part of the give-and-take of this relationship.

Sort of like how things are meant to work in the relationship between political leaders and the citizens who elected them.

Canada is a representative democracy.

Representative democracies are founded on the principle of elected officials representing a group of people.

The House of Commons is a democratically elected body, whose members (MPs) are elected according to simple-plurality (‘first-past-the-post’) in each of the country’s ridings or electoral districts. Like all members of parliament, prime ministers are elected to represent their electoral constituents first and foremost. If they lose their support then, consequently, they are no longer entitled to be prime minister. Like all members of parliament, prime ministers (and leaders of the other parties, and cabinet ministers) are subject to the direction of their constituents- the people who elected them, as their representatives, to act according to the direction of the electorate. (synopsized from the Wikipedia)

That’d be us. Each and every citizen of this country that I love, who took the time to fulfill our civic responsibility to cast a vote for the best-possible representation in our houses of political power.

Our falcons aren’t listening to us. They have spun so far from the central foundation that its hold is becoming increasingly tenuous.

They aren’t listening to the letters they are sent, or the protests that are organized, or the challenges put to them by the media and the scientists and the academics and the lawyers…

Our falcons- especially the falcon-in-chief- are off hunting in Mespotamia (quite literally), regardless of whether or not the falconers agree with what they are doing. The falcons want to give themselves more power- to both fly further afield and for a longer period of time and to remove the jesses that allow the falconers to maintain their say in what the falcons might do.

I’m not usually all that attached to the minute-by-minute minutia that makes up most of social media. I play the game, now and again, since some of it can be pretty good for keeping contact with people and catching up on stuff that you might otherwise forget about (especially since I seem to be having more and more senior moments with each passing day), and videos of cats doing cute things are always welcome. But I’m not tied to my computer or a smart phone (the one I have is decidedly un-smart. Like Homer Simpson SMRT) to any great extent.

What with the non-response I received from one of our political parties yesterday, I’ve been following a few people on the social media a little more closely than is my usual wont. I feel like I need to keep an eye on just what’s happening as this whole thing- now both Bill C-51 AND the PM’s insane and unsubstantiated  proposition to parliament that the Canadian ‘mission’ in Iraq should be extended- and expanded to include Syria- plays out.

I’ve signed petitions, checked in with human rights and social justice groups, watched news feeds for the hashtags #C51 and #rejectfear. And you know what? I’ve seen some actual, honest-to-goodness progress…

Like this indication that public support for the Bill is decreasing, significantly, as citizens take the time to actually pay attention to the thing. Or this article, based on findings straight out of CSIS (you remember, that intelligence-gathering agency that the PM wants to provide with more power under the terms of the Bill) that states that ‘lone wolf’ attacks- like the admittedly-horrible recent events in Ottawa and Quebec- ‘more often come from white supremacists and extreme right-wing ideologies than from Islamic radicalism.’

Hmm. Interesting.

The CSIS documents ‘explicitly warn that the notion the Western world is at war with Islam plays into terrorist recruitment strategies. “International terrorist groups place a high priority on radicalizing Westerners who can be used to carry out terrorist attacks in their home countries,” the documents read. “The narrative that the West is at war with Islam continues to exert a very powerful influence in radicalizing individuals and spreads quickly through social media and online fora.”’

There was evidence enough of some level of positive progress out there in the interworld that I’m renewed in my determination to hold our leaders to account for their actions- and proposed legislation- while reminding them who, really, is boss.

I encourage you all to do the same.

Let them know that, while they might be birds of prey and play a crucial role in maintaining the health of our ecosystem, our political leaders remain answerable to the electorate that permits them to fly on their behalf.

Listen up, raptors. We determine where you get to fly- and when it might be time to cage you. Permanently. Keep that mind. It may well be that a lot of things may, in fact, ‘change, change utterly‘ in the coming months.

If we work together, the revelation at hand just might herald the birth of beauty, rather than a misshapen, rough beast born out of the fires of fear and the empty words of political expediency.

Hoping and hoping
As if by my weak faith
The spirit of this world
Would heal and rise
Vast are the shadows
That straddle and strafe
And struggle in the darkness
Troubling my eyes

17 comments on “‘The falcon cannot hear the falconer’

  1. Eloquently stated and right on the mark. I love the analogy that the falcon no longer listens to the falconer. It isn’t listening because it’s learned it doesn’t have to. It’s been allowed to soar wherever it wants and become entangled in whatever it desires because it’s learned to manipulate the falconer adeptly and adroitly. If the falconer doesn’t wake up to reality, it will lose any opportunity to bring the falcon to heel.

  2. I must admit, your title made me groan with pleasure and expectation, as The Second Coming is one of my favorites, for it is timeless and somehow, majestic. Yes, it’s a great metaphor you’ve tied to this poem, and it seems no matter what we common folks do, those in power are running amok — not quite anarchy, but certainly disorder…

    • colemining says:

      I know, Joey! Isn’t it the greatest? I can’t overstate how much I love that guy.

      Thanks for the visit- and for appreciating my metaphorical attempts to make sense of power run amok. Have to keep the disorder from becoming anarchy. I think that’s the ticket.

  3. Anarchy gets a bad press. 😉 Mismanaged governance sort of breeds it by default, the falcons having flown so far as to be absent, too far removed to hear any more, as you say. Time to let some birds go the craw road. Clay-pigeon shooting anyone? A different breed of bird is required altogether and a bungee to keep them in harness!
    I love the analogy, Cole. As usual, you are right on. Nature abhorrs a vacuum. Governments everywhere are creating a state of emergent anarchy and then wondering why we’re scunnered. I’m taking falconry lessons.

  4. This is one of my favorite poems and Yeats a favorite poet. I visited his grave in Ireland and was properly respectful and awed. This is a brilliant post using the falcon imagery and allegory. Thank you.

  5. bethbyrnes says:

    Our problem here in the lower 50 is that we don’t have a Parliamentary system. We have two choices only and all 500+ of these people do whatever they feel like and always find a group to vote for them. We cannot get rid of these people easily, so some are in there for life. The more reasonable and responsive they are to the people, the more swiftly they are pushed aside in favor of extremists. I am still wondering why our country is giving a known plagiariser so much acclamation and fanfare when he threw his hat in the ring for 2016 yesterday. It seems politicians can get away with almost anything in this country as long as they use the right buzz-words in their speeches.

    • colemining says:

      Our Parliamentary system isn’t working all that well at the moment, Beth. Another one of those things that looks good on paper, but that has been twisted by political expediency and greed. A senator- who was appointed to his position (held until he turns 75, BTW- used to be ‘for life’, but I digress…) by our current PM is on trial for fraud, breach of trust and bribery right now. I can only hope that he manages to bring down the PM with him- although that, even, seems doubtful, given the fact that there seem to be people north of the lower 50 who will vote for the guy- and his Cons- regardless of the lies they tell and the damage they do.

      Add to that the fact that the three-party system can divide voters to such an extent that things like ‘strategic voting’ happen to ensure that one party doesn’t get elected… Sigh. Gone are the days when we elected the leaders we thought would best represent the people. We are now reduced to voting for the lesser of a whole lot of evils- in an attempt to ensure that the biggest evil doesn’t end up in the PMs office. Again. We have no cap on the length of time a person can lead this country- even if the places he might be leading us would have been far better left un-visited.

      I’m not sure where we go from here- especially since the reactions against any number of things lately (Bill C-51 is just one inexplicable piece of nonsense among many) hasn’t been as progressive as I’d prefer. I have an almost-constant headache from all of it. Trying to clear my head a little- although that’s not leading me back to any real level of productivity either.

      Thank you, as always, for your visit and you insights. xo

  6. Right after our elections, I posted on Facebook about the Beast slouching towards Bethlehem. It was the first thing that came to mind. Yeats was a genius poet.

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