Thursday, February 19, 2009

So many words to speak that the tongue cannot utter.

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.

-AE[/quote]


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.


-Rupert Brooke[/quote]


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.

-Wilfred Owen[/quote]

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.

4 comments:

Bella said...

Death. its beyond words. the amount of grief that you can feel in the air. tears sliding down faces.

a girl i know's mother committed suicide last year. even though i hadnt known her very well i cried. and for some reason i felt bad.

i cried apart from everyone else. i felt like i didnt deserve to grieve for the departed because i had never gotten to know her that well. i guess i felt guilty.

sometimes i wish i was born in a time before this. i feel like i dont fit well in this one.

Bella x

the thing that should not be said...

death fascinates me. mainly because its one of the few things no-one can ever be completely certain about. we cant exactly ask someone who's died what death is like. it is true that sometimes people are forgotten, sometimes the greatest people that no-one ever knew. but death also has a way of immortalising people.

some people are only really remembered BECAUSE they died young and didnt have a chance to shine. kurt cobain, jimi hendrix, marylin monroe, heath ledger, cliff burton, and even my uncle. all of them died under the age of 35. they didnt even get half a normal life. but we still remember them, again if only because they died young.

i could talk about death for ages, but i wont bore you :P

brilliant post, i loved reading it.

Lydia said...

Very thought-provoking! Thanks for posting.

Bilby P. Dalgyte said...

What lovely quotes.

You will never leave a mark upon this earth as an individual, your body itself shall become part of the earth itself and even your tombstone will degrade and your grave be replaced by a hundred graves after that... how very humbling to know our physical selves ultimately have a fleeting gift to offer to the world. But from a Christian belief, the physical is irrelevant because of the spiritual aspect of us goes on forever.

It's still sad when someone dies. I hope you don't die young even if you're fine with it :) Everybody is beautiful in a way, every mind a wonder.