Country of first asylum, or first refuge, is usually a neighbouring country to which a refugee flees. In the face of great challenge, even reported challenge, writing often becomes the place of first refuge for novelists and poets as they seek to make sense of the challenging experience. Rilke expresses it this way:
Everything conspires to silence us,
Partly with shame
Partly with unspeakable hope.
Repeating themes of creation, struggle, death and rebirth run through the greatest literature across all cultures. It seems ironic then, that many of our cleverest minds, having “got the picture”, turn to a condensed version or even, in the case of The Fellowship of the Ring, half a short poem to summarise the plot.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
(From “All that is gold does not glitter” by J.R.R. Tolkien)