The last couplet makes me want to cry—but it also makes me want to go out into the world and make friends with it. The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found A hedgehog jammed up against the blades, Killed. It had been in the long grass.
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I had seen it before, and even fed it, once. Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world Unmendably. Burial was no help:. Next morning I got up and it did not. The first day after a death, the new absence Is always the same; we should be careful. This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,. I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: Slamming the car door shut in the cold.
What you called that yearning. What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss—we want more and more and then more of it. One man saying sorry, older lady in the back saying how funny you were, how you joked.
Such is charity — so rare. Words that others have written float back to us and stay with us, indelibly. We asked you to share the lines of poetry that are the most vital to you, along with notes about the precise situation that summoned them to mind. I thought of this Emily Dickinson poem when I got the news that the husband of a dear friend of mine had committed suicide. I do not know how my friend bears such pain. There is no information in the poem that separates her from us.
The poem is made to be an experience instead of referring to one, which is precisely how she says she knows poetry in her famous remark to Higginson: If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way I know it. Is there any other way. Michael Ryan Irvine, California. Mine, O thou lord of life, send my roots rain. These lines continue to sustain. This is a very real statement of what it means to be human, to be self-aware, and to struggle—against God, yes, and against oneself and the need to create.
The last four words alone have come to mind often, as prayer, as chant, as mantra, as life-saving music: Even such is time, which takes in trust Our youth, our joys, and all we have, And pays us but with age and dust, Who in the dark and silent grave When we have wandered all our ways Shuts up the story of our days, And from which earth, and grave, and dust The Lord shall raise me up, I trust. Saddam dangling from a rope is a complex image to overcome by overt moralizing, judicial justifications, or even an empathetic ear listening in on the hatred and pain that those whom he tortured and killed must feel toward him.
At the same time, one can imagine Saddam feeling about his own execution in exactly the same way Raleigh seems to feel about his. And so embedded in that comprehensive and contradictory and ultimately blocked set of intuitions is the reason why I love these lines: Not a cruel song, no, no, not cruel at all.
This song Is sweet. The heart dies of this sweetness. I remember feeling that something just happened to me: I have been both comforted and frightened by those lines on countless occasions. To me they are a lasting example of how poetic power does not always depend on image and metaphor; poetic power can come in abstract language if there is enough emotional energy propelling it.
Your love—your deepest and most impassioned desire-ardor-admiration—turns out to be a force controlling you even as you feel you are choosing to be defined by it. A frightening idea, yet preferable to the idea that you are controlled by animal needs, by chemistry, by economics, by tribal politics, or by some imaginary deity. Bidart is interested in people whose deepest desires are transgressive. Or, when I see myself lifting and moving boxes of books from one apartment to another, one house to another, decade after decade.
I think of this line almost every day—it speaks to my own life which is always too much for me and to our collective American life we were so busy, we were so tired, we wish we had more time—maybe two weeks from Wednesday? Frost bring us back to the road that is not a road, and a house that is no more a house—to the source, a spring, near where the children has their little house of make-believe.
Their small dishes still strewn about. Within the confines of my own consciousness I try, when I remember the line, to return to that source—to rest there, drink, and return returned to myself. Marie Howe Bronxville, New York. The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.
I had passed through the last small town and was halfway between nowhere and Dodge City, Kansas, when the road vanished beneath snow and my little car foundered badly. Realizing that no one was going to be passing by until the next day, I got out and started walking. At last the distant light of a farmhouse appeared, the only one, I discovered later, within miles. As I was walking toward it, I thought of this poem, and I knew that I would be able to keep my promises , and I felt ecstatically liberated. So boring for students: Oh, this is a little lesson about obligations and responsibility.
I hope they continue to teach in high schools the most over-taught poem in America; I just wish they would stop explaining it.
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I have married my hands to perpetual agitation, I run, I run to the whistle of money. Money money money Water water water How cool the grass is. Has the bird left?
The stalk still sways. Has the worm a shadow? What do the clouds say? These lines come to me at moments of anxiety and distraction. They slow my heart rate and calm me down. Mark Jarman Nashville, Tennessee. Henri Cole Boston, Massachusettes.
10 Life-Affirming Poems About Death
The Lord promised us he would never destroy the earth again by water. But even by age twelve, I did not have to tax my ingenuity to list plenty of ways that God could keep his deeply hedged promise and still eradicate the human race every hundred years for a millennium: God, reassuring Noah and his drenched daughters, merely removes one arrow from the apocalyptic quiver. It can be read as some sort of affirmation of God: But another reading is that God is by his nature inimical to humankind, one who has withdrawn his promise.
To my understanding, the line captures much of the famous complexity of the Book of Job.
Poems about Life
The rainbow is a cloying symbol of a reduced God who, however much he may desire, cannot strip himself of his power and become a one-dimensional God of pity, understanding, compassion. He is so completely other that he cannot be bound or reduced even to his own desire to spare us. Andrew Hudgins Columbus, Ohio.
Long enough have you timidly waded, holding a plank by the shore, Now I will you to be a bold swimmer Truth to tell, I get to swim in the ocean for about a week each summer and it is one of the most ecstatic experiences I know. I love rising up and going down with the wave, just out past where they break.
But I also like to swim straight out for a while, reciting these lines to myself, feeling the strange way salt water sustains you, holds you up. Of course, I like these lines elsewhere also, since they are about courage and getting courage from great poets—Whitman is a great courage-giver. Gregory Orr Charlottesville, Virginia. Some lines come back to comfort us, others to instruct, still others to remind us of those wonders which lie about us everyday. And then there are some that haunt us by the very fact that their insights, dark and unsettling though they are, have been tested on the pulse and proven true.
Sherod Santos Columbia, Missouri. Once in a sycamore I was glad all at the top, and I sang. Hard on the land wears the strong sea and empty grows every bed.
Six uplifting poems about death that celebrate life
My husband, my young daughters, and I were heading for New Orleans, where I grew up and where my parents live, because it was the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Empty house foundations threaded with weeds. Buildings scrawled with FEMA numbers, counting the dead. Uprooted trees, a yellowed, salt-bleached landscape. If you're dealing with the loss of a loved one, find practical and emotional support with our information for bereaved family and friends.
I want to Gift Aid my donation and any donations I make in the future or have made in the past 4 years to Marie Curie. Six uplifting poems about death that celebrate life During sad times, poetry can both rouse the spirits and calm the soul. Remember — Christina Rossetti This charming poem actually has a trick up his sleeve. A Song of Living - Amelia Burr Like the famous Edith Piaf song, 'Non, je ne regrette rien', this poem speaks of a life well lived with no space for petty regrets.
Crossing the Bar - Alfred, Lord Tennyson Many people call upon their sense of religious faith during difficult times.
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