Friday, February 29, 2008

In Memoriam

The world lost two brave souls yesterday, men I knew only a little but who had a great impact on those I love--one my uncle by marriage, the other the father of a dear friend. Both were surrounded by family as they died; both were men of great faith. Their loss has left me a bit poorer, struggling for words of comfort or hope. As usual, I find that others have said it better. In Tennyson's great poem of mourning I find a reason to look for words, and in Hopkins's celebration of life I find a bit, I think, of the faith that sustained both.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson
In Memoriam A.H.H. Obit. MDCCCXXXIII
I sometimes hold it half a sin
To put in words the grief I feel;
For words, like Nature, half reveal
And half conceal the Soul within.

But, for the unquiet heart and brain,
A use in measured language lies;
The sad mechanic exercise,
Like dull narcotics, numbing pain.

In words, like weeds, I’ll wrap me o’er,
Like coarsest clothes against the cold:
But that large grief which these enfold
Is given in outline and no more.

Gerard Manley Hopkins
"As kingfishers catch fire"

AS kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came.

Í say móre: the just man justices;
Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—
Chríst—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

Go in peace.


Chris said...

Thank you!
Two unfamiliar passages
but good words.

Caroline said...

It was good to read these today; thank you.