Monday, May 27, 2013

The Grief that Saps the Mind

"Ring out the grief that saps the mind
for those that here we see no more."

~ Tennyson ~

Sign by Robert Montgomery, Post-Situationist Public Artist
Painted wood & solar-powered LED lights
De La Warr Pavillion, Bexhill, East Sussex

When it comes to "the grief that saps the mind," no one has described it better than my literary friend Lee Perron, in the following section of his poem, "From Desire, A Sequence" (fondly referred to in my family as "The Nose Poem"):

your mate dies, or parents
or one of your other friends
there is nothing fearful in the death
the deadman is not the problem
his letters perhaps
some phrase he spoke that rings every after
the way he died, what the surgeons did to his brain, or kidneys,
or heart
what you & he would have been doing now
next week, all summer long as you always did
the deadman did not die
your plans died
and this is what is so upsetting
this makes us so sick we cannot even think

~ Lee Perron

"Seasons of blankness" is Thomas Hardy's way to describe this upsetting, sickening sense of loss. Gerry's Auntie Margaret fondly refers to Hardy as "such as misery," which is true. Yet, his irony appeals to me: the things we want to stay are going; the things we want to go are staying. But just at the point where we might easily turn to cynicism, Hardy offers neutrality: yes, we lose the good things, the best things, the "prime"; but some of the mind - sapping grief dissipates as well.

The May Moon ~ We Wish It Would Stay!

Going and Staying


The moving sun-shapes on the spray,
The sparkles where the brook was flowing,
Pink faces, plightings, moonlit May,
These were the things we wished would stay;
But they were going.


Seasons of blankness as of snow,
The silent bleed of a world decaying,
The moan of multitudes in woe,
These were the things we wished would go;
But they were staying.


Then we looked closelier at Time,
And saw his ghostly arms revolving
To sweep off woeful things with prime,
Things sinister with things sublime
Alike dissolving.

~ Thomas Hardy ~

A Closlier Look at the Full Moon
~ Cosmic Photography by Jay Beets ~

[P.S. Closelier is Hardy's own special made - up word, so much better than just plain old closer.]

A closing thought
from The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green:

" . . . then I realized there was no one else to call,
which was the saddest thing.
The only person I really wanted to talk to about Augustus Waters's death was Augustus Waters. . . .
In the last weeks, we'd been reduced to spending our time together in recollection, but that was not nothing:
The pleasure of remembering had been taken from me,
because there was no longer anyone to remember with.
It felt like losing your co - rememberer
meant losing the memory itself,
as if the things we'd done were less real and important
than they had been hours before.

Now, that's the grief that saps the mind . . .
the grief that makes us so sick we cannot even think . . .

See also my earlier post "Indifferent Universe"

No comments:

Post a Comment