From the time my sister was sixteen writing poetry and prose became a passion. Then one day, several years ago she stopped writing. Before she quit she belonged to a writer’s group. During her time as a member she (once again for many years) realized that other writer’s didn’t have the same ability to write, nor did they understand her style of writing. Uhhhhhhh, duhhhhhh, her writing has always been better than mine. I struggle for metaphors and sentence structure–she doesn’t.
I have given her permission to write or copy to my blog thinking that might be a treat for her; a place where my readers can respond to her. It didn’t happen! Yesterday my email brought me a surprise. It was something she had written just before she sent it to me
I now share it with you:
In the middle days of February, thoughts of spring have fled before the onslaught of an unseasonal polar intrusion.
I sit in the Tuscan heat and brightness of my kitchen and watch the heart stopping beauty of a Cardinal foraging for latent kernels of corn left on the frozen waste of my deck by squirrels. He is so very shy, this avian flash of scarlet, upon the artic waste of snow. The contrast tears at my soul, this promise of life amidst the inevitable freeze of death.
With this my thoughts scramble to their new found haven of shadows they have so often sought during this interminable winter that laughs at my desperate hope of spring, while the shadows whisper words of Alfred, Lord Tennyson and William Cullen Bryant; favorite Englishman and American poet resting peacefully side by side on my library shelf.
Tennyson was an early love, from the first high school introduction. Bryant’s “Thanotopsis” was a strange assignment to a fledgling poet by an aging teacher of Literature. At my then tender age of 16 I understood the concepts of both poets, but until now did not feel them viscerally as I do this winter; a winter of disease and loss.
The loss of a canine friend, loved from birth and cherished in my heart for 14 years, summoned the long ago memorized lines of Tennyson’s poem, “Tears, Idle Tears”, and I understood the heart-rending reality, the finality and strangeness of “the days that are no more.”
From Tennyson’s “depth of some divine despair” welled memories of other times, other losses, of relatives and friends migrating from “days that are no more” into Bryant’s “innumerable caravan”.
It is humbling to understand that what I am feeling today was felt and immortalized by these two great poets over 12 decades ago. The brilliance of Tennyson was to acknowledge and record what is felt and Bryant’s to inform us we are not alone, we are part of a greater humanity that must “so live, that . . .[as we] approach the grave, like one who wraps the drapery of his couch. . .and lies down to pleasant dreams.”
Attached are links to these two ageless and thought provoking poems. I hope they offer to you the solace that I found.
“Tears, Idle Tears”
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