I’m in a strange mood today. Piano and rain and poetry would put a person in a reflective, melancholy mood, I suppose.
[quote]A shadowy tumult stirs the dusky air;
Sparkle the delicate dews, the distant snows;
The great deep thrills – for through it everywhere
The breath of Beauty blows.
Then CdnReader’s death. She had friended me (an online friend) shortly before falling ill, and though I had heard that she was ill I didn’t know that it was cancer. I had been looking forward to building up a friendship with her, because the few poems of hers that I’d read pointed to a kind, sincere, genuine woman. And now she’s dead.
[quote] Here sense dissolves, combines to print only
These bitten choirs of stone on water,
To the tumble of old cloth bells,
The cadging of confetti pigeons,
A boatman singing from his long black coffin…
- Lawrence Durrell [/quote]
Throughout the years, death has fascinated many poets and authors. I can understand why. Some see Death as the bogeyman, others as a friend. Hades, it seems, has many faces, and chooses a different one to show every person.
I am not afraid of dying young. Being a Christian puts a different spin on death, but regardless of that, I don’t think that whatever I can or will do will leave a long-lasting mark in the world. So it doesn’t matter – I’ll live and die and be forgotten soon enough, but there are some who should never be forgotten – those whom Time carries on his shoulders, though they are dead. And nearly all the other human beings – all the world – that walk with him on the long path to its hidden end are too busy scrutinizing the dust to look up at the stars.
[quote] I know you: solitary griefs,
Desolate passions, aching hours!
I know you: tremulous beliefs
Agonized hopes, and ashen flowers!”
- Lionel Johnson[/quote]
The world is denied a revolution every time someone with talent dies young – the book I’m finishing up (Modern British Poetry, 1963) has shown me reams of poets I’d never known of – and my favorites were inevitably those who died in WWI. Look:
[quote]Love is a flame: - we have beaconed the world’s night.
A city: - and we have built it, these and I.
An emperor: - we have taught the world to die.
And to keep loyalties young, I’ll write those names
Golden for ever, eagles, crying flames,
And set them as a banner, that men may know
To dare the generations, burn, and blow
Out on the wind of Time, shining and streaming…
But the best I’ve known
Stays here, and changes, breaks, grows old, is blown
About the winds of the world, and fades from brains
Of living men, and dies.
Somewhere in the world it’s raining on the graves of the dead – the dead who with courage and love endowed the old battlefields with a dignity that they could not otherwise attain. What a tragedy that the world forgets so quickly – that we look forward to “change” and a “new age” without any reverence, any remembrance for the lovely old beliefs and principles.
[quote]I, too, saw God through mud—
The mud that cracked on cheeks when wretches smiled.
War brought more glory to their eyes than blood,
And gave their laughs more flee than shakes a child.
I have perceived much beauty
In the hoarse oaths that kept our courage straight;
Heard music in the silentness of duty;
Found peace where shell-storms spouted reddest spate.
You shall not hear their mirth:
You shall not come to think them well content
By any jest of mine. These men are worth
Your tears: You are not worth their merriment.
I am haunted by ghosts; half-maddened by the memory of things that never were, people I’ve never been. People tell me to “enjoy my youth” but I’ve lived it and I've died. a thousand times, vicariously, in different times, different lands, as different people, and every single one of them still grips me and fills me with ideas…but I’m stuck in this hamburger and hip hop world that refuses to budge in the direction of “progress,” only down a side-road that will end when all of Time does.
And all that we could have been will never be. All that we were set up for – through literature and ideas and principles and courage and music and poetry – will have been the fleeting dreams of my ghosts.
And now where once our fathers played
There lies a ship, for dead a grave.
Whose lives were these? The stormy
Gull above the waters knows
As well as we.
Sitting at the computer, amidst a flurry of pens and notebooks, books with faded spines opened and laying facedown beside me. One in my lap, and the outside world waiting, and frankly my dear I don't care!
A scholar I am, and a scholar I will remain.
I won’t forget.