A Memorable Phrase

Sometimes a phrase suddenly lodges itself in my head and immediately starts generating ideas for a poem.  I don’t know where I came across the phrase “Everyday life at the end of its tether”; I seem to remember seeing it in a book review a while ago, but I can’t remember who the reviewer was, or which book he/she was reviewing.  Anyway, the phrase took hold of me, and I started jotting notes for a poem, which eventually was to be entitled “Tether”.

I was reminded of the phrase by a fascinating book I’m currently reading: “Now All Roads Lead to France – The Last Years of Edward Thomas” by Matthew Hollis.  Devoted followers of this blog will know of my liking for the poems of Edward Thomas, who was killed in the First World War.  Thomas’s most well-known poem is “Adlestrop”, which I affectionally pastiched in my poem “Cricket at Adlestrop”.  Matthew Hollis’s book is a biography of Thomas, focusing on the last four years of his life, and his friendship with the American poet Robert Frost.  I knew very little about Thomas, before reading this book, so I had no idea that he suffered from chronic depression, and attempted suicide on more than one occasion.  Reading Thomas’s comments about how family life with his wife and three children had become unbearable, the phrase “Everyday life at the end of its tether” inevitably sprang to mind.


No fun anymore, only sadness and pain.
Dust infiltrates into cracks in the leather.
Nothing exceptional, all is mundane.
Everyday life at the end of its tether.

The haunting horror lurches down the lane.
Just a nightmare, but with you forever.
The thought of it chills you, drives you insane.
Try as you might, you can’t hold things together.

No point anymore, only losses, no gain.
Whatever the day, whatever the weather.
Spirit dissolves into cells in the brain.
Everyday life at the end of its tether.


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