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March 01, 2017


A very beautiful (and interesting) post, lj. Thank you for reposting. I wonder if, when you talk about "trying to get on with my doggy life", you are quoting Auden's Musee des Beaux Arts? It is one of my favourite poems, and for anybody who doesn't know it, here it is in all its profound beauty:

Musee des Beaux Arts W. H. Auden

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

lj, that's a wonderful story, and new for me since I wouldn't have been around when you posted it in 2007. Those sympathetic vibrations are still spreading through the universe, it seems.

Thanks, lj. (That's all I got. Tough act to follow.)

Nicely written. I lost my Dad this year, and trying to figure out what to say, and how, and to whom--and noticing all the stories that are adrift or lost is saddening. So many of the stories that people stepped up and told were interesting--and new to me--but so grounded in an absent context that I'm still not sure what made it through or how much I can retain.

GftNC, yes! And I love that poem as well.

Here's the painting, with all the iconography described. with Ovid in French!


Don't worry about realizing that you've forgotten to be sad. You will get to where you think of them as naturally, and with as much pleasure, as you think of the ones who are still with you.

I've had a long career as a parent, and a long life already (and I expect it to be longer), so I've lost most of my older relatives, and several of my children. And for what it's worth, that's what I have learned.

We even have a phrase for it (thanks to one of the youngest, when he was very very young) -- "gone to the heaven in our heads".

"gone to the heaven in our heads"

Thank you.

From Wendell Berry's "A world Lost", a novel whose plot turns on the death of a beloved uncle of the narrator's. It's from the last chapter, and is a meditation on death, and what perhaps follows death. It's a favorite of mine, I share it FWIW.

I imagine the dead waking, dazed, into a shadowless light in which they know themselves altogether for the first time. It is a light that is merciless until they can accept its mercy; by it they are at once condemned and redeemed. It is Hell until it is Heaven. Seeing themselves in that light, if they are willing, they see how far they have failed the only justice of loving one another; it punishes them by their own judgment. And yet, in suffering that light’s awful clarity, in seeing themselves within it, they see its forgiveness and its beauty, and are consoled. In it they are loved completely, even as they have been, and so are changed into what they could not have been but what, if they could have imagined it, they would have wished to be.

I was a bit worried about reposting this, but to know someone got your allusion (thank you GftNC!) is always great, and both Older and Russell's comments make me very grateful I went ahead and posted it again. I realized when I looked for it that this will be 10 years since my mother died, so Older's comment is truly a comfort. thank you.

De nada, lj. In my experience, sharing the enjoyment of poetry is a very great pleasure. Also, any consolation to be had in the aftermath of loss and grief is good, however you get it, and however much time has elapsed since the event.

Such a mystery, death. And yes, one of the puzzles is how we accept it> i guess the anser is we accpet it because we have to. What is the alternative/ Endless weeping an waiing, shaking our fists at god, crying forever? I have a friedn who is dying right now. i went down to visti her. She was not consciouls< I sat next to her and cahtted about happy stuff, tellingher people were thinking about her and sending love and stuff like that. And I was thinking taht she was dying one of the most profoundly improtant experiences one can have and there I am...chatiing away. It seem elike I ought to be doing something more. I guess this is where a religon would come in handy. A ritual with lots of trappings a diety or two as witnesses would give the occassion the recognition it deserves. But she didnt have any religion and netihr do I. Doesn; thave any religion. She ins;t past tense yet. But she will be and there wil be a gap left in my life. And I will be very aware of that gap sometimes but ther times like everyone else who will miss her I will move on and accpet her passing. Since I am sixty four and not expecting to live a lot longer Ithin about death al the time. I remind myself taht my dath will not be a tragedy excpet in the sense that every death is one. But my life certainlly had not been a ragedy and neither was ny fried's. So mabye there is nothing to weep and wail about. Save taht for the children who died in the bombin og Alleppo or the starving polar bears. That's a tragedy. Thank you for your beutiful essay. I wish my ramiblings were a more fitting tribute to the subject.

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