Ode to Procrastination

Welcome. It’s that time of year when research deadlines and marking pile up into a dark, ominous cumulonimbus above my head; so my usual blog topics will need to wait. But as I left home for work on Tuesday morning these verses came quite suddenly to me, a reminder or rather a warning of what not to do and how not to be: 

Ode to Procrastination

Today is the day
I will conquer
I shall not procrastinate
I shall not linger,

On email or Twitter
Facebook deleted
I’m in ‘the zone’
I shan’t be defeated.

But first I need a boost –
Think I’ll get myself a tea.
And since the sun is out
I might go see the sea.

A brisk walk is good
for productivity, they say.
Perhaps I should head back now,
It’s already midday.

Oh look it’s 1 P.M.,
I’ll just get a bite to eat.
Since I’m on a break already
I’ll send out the odd tweet.

How is it 3?
Most o’ the day is gone.
Noone disturb me!
I’m getting in the zone.

End of the day.
I wrote a paragraph.
I did do some reading –
A page and a half.

Tomorrow’ll be the day
I will conquer
I will not procrastinate
I will not linger…

13. 3. 2018

Context: I do actually work near the sea.

Afterthought: I realised I could have rhymed procrastinate with confusticate, a nod to a certain furry-footed character. A missed opportunity.

That day, as I stared into the abyss of how much I had left to do, I also came up with this masterpiece:

FullSizeRender (1)

I then wondered if I should write an ode to a blank screen, but remembered that Ted Hughes already did something similar and a lot better with The Thought-Fox, a delightful poem (about writing a poem) that has always stuck with me since I studied it in my school-days; certainly more hopeful than my poorer attempt above:

The Thought-Fox

I imagine this midnight moment’s forest:
Something else is alive
Beside the clock’s loneliness
And this blank page where my fingers move.

Through the window I see no star:
Something more near
though deeper within darkness
Is entering the loneliness:

Cold, delicately as the dark snow
A fox’s nose touches twig, leaf;
Two eyes serve a movement, that now
And again now, and now, and now

Sets neat prints into the snow
Between trees, and warily a lame
Shadow lags by stump and in hollow
Of a body that is bold to come

Across clearings, an eye,
A widening deepening greenness,
Brilliantly, concentratedly,
Coming about its own business

Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox,
It enters the dark hole of the head.
The window is starless still; the clock ticks,
The page is printed.


Well, I very much hope so! Off I go in search of a thought-fox.

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4 Responses to Ode to Procrastination

  1. If only I could offer a smug offering of self-satisfaction but, of course, I can’t. All I might say is that I was confronted by an advertisement on Twitter whilst engaging in my morning procrastination in which some executive was happily explaining that his customers were not willing to wait for the products of his company. I can only assume you he is not the courier dashing to make the delivery. There has to be something to be said in favour of refusing to join in with that kind of nonsense.
    But I must dash. I promised my wife that I would do a couple of things around the hour while she is at a course today. Must dash! Or is it time for a coffee…?

    • Earthoak says:

      Good morning, Stephen! Well that is a very positive way to look at things 🙂 perhaps it is not procrastination but rather a need to let ideas stew and thoughts to crystallise…and sadly the world doesn’t have time for it, so we get impatient with our minds! Just like people do with that poor courier and his deliveries. Perhaps when we ‘procrastinate’ it is our resistance to this compulsion for speed, production and marketisation. Or perhaps I’m just finding excuses. But your comment did remind me that some of the scholars and authors I look up to were prolific, and others were anything but and worked away at one important life work. Hope your day goes well!

  2. Tom Hillman says:

    I procrastinated by reading this. I tend to think of procrastination as a rearguard action in the long defeat

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