I’m com­fort­ably numb ... but I’ll soon move on

Af­ter the di­vi­sive­ness of the elec­tion cam­paign, writes Os­car Kight­ley, there’s a cer­tain poetic jus­tice in deal­ing with suc­cess or fail­ure.

Sunday News - - FRONT PAGE -

‘‘MY heart aches, and a drowsy numb­ness pains

My sense as, though of hem­lock I had drunk.’’

It’s times like this that only the words of John Keats can ad­e­quately ex­press how I’m feel­ing.

The English poet was 23 years old when he wrote this epic line in his clas­sic, Ode To A Nightin­gale. The poem was in praise of bird­song but also about mor­tal­ity and the long­ing for death and es­cape.

I don’t long for death and es­cape. I’m not that de­pressed about the re­sult of this elec­tion.

The re­sult isn’t fi­nal. There are still the per­mu­ta­tions that will come from the ur­gent con­ver­sa­tions that will take place to­day as lead­ers scram­ble for power. It will be like a morn­ing tea on Game of Thrones, but with­out the san­dals, swords and – per­haps – only fig­u­ra­tive stab­bing.

At this time it seems Bill English has the run­ning to lead his Na­tional Party into a rare fourth term in gov­ern­ment.

It will be a sweet feel­ing for English and, on a per­sonal note for him, a tri­umphant turn­around from the dis­as­trous re­sult the last time he led his teal-blue army of healthy jog­gers into an elec­tion.

All things go­ing to plan over the next few days he will get the job as prime min­is­ter prop­erly and he can breathe a sigh of re­lief that his po­lit­i­cal legacy won’t in­clude crash­ing the car that for­mer leader Sir John Key had spent eight years steer­ing while barely break­ing a sweat.

Na­tional Party min­is­ters must be relieved that, this time around, they’ve seem­ingly dodged the bul­let fired by the rise of Jacinda Ardern once she be­came the Labour leader.

A size­able chunk of fel­low New Zealan­ders who voted will be de­lighted with how the re­sult is pan­ning out and I amhappy for them… just not happy in a re­ally

One of the things about liv­ing in the imag­ined re­al­ity that is democ­racy, is be­ing grown up about the re­sult.’

overt way at the mo­ment.

But one of the things about liv­ing in the imag­ined re­al­ity that is democ­racy, is be­ing grown up about the re­sult and all that.

Labour is stronger than it has been in ages, but it now looks like they face an­other three years of hav­ing to put up with the smug coun­te­nances beam­ing at them across the floor of the Bee­hive as Na­tional sets about run­ning the coun­try again.

Gen­eral elec­tions al­ways bring up bi­par­ti­san­ship and for a few weeks there’s been a se­ries of in­vis­i­ble di­vi­sions that have sprung up among us, as vot­ers turned to con­sid­er­ing the things that are ac­tu­ally im­por­tant to them.

There’s a nat­u­ral pe­riod of griev­ing that fol­lows an elec­tion when your side has lost. As Pai on Wha­lerider said, ‘‘it’s not any­one’s fault, it’s just what hap­pens’’.

In a few days, those feel­ings will go away, and we’ll all just be Ki­wis again and can sing Tu­tira mai to­gether as one na­tion.

Sadly, at the age of 25, and only two years af­ter writ­ing Ode To A Nightin­gale, the poet Keats died of tu­ber­cu­lo­sis. It’s a good les­son in per­spec­tive ... af­ter all, there are way worse things in this world than your choice of party los­ing an elec­tion.

But, for now, I’m go­ing to let my­self feel a bit bummed out for a few days.

I’ll need a bit more than the words of Keats to cope with feel­ing a lit­tle numb at the grand op­por­tu­nity for change that New Zealand has just passed up.

It looks like Bill English can rest easy at hav­ing suc­cess­fully taken the steer­ing wheel of a car that Sir John Key drove for eight years.

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