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This is the blog of Oxford University Poetry Society, where you can get up-to-date news about our upcoming events and poetry readings, dates of poetry workshops, read contributors' poetry, and try a hand at writing your own...

Monday, 13 October 2008

Peacefulness with death

my friend went to a funeral this weekend of a former friend who committed suicide.

i find words are often inadequate at the best of times, but in this kind of situation, to speak of death or offer consolation in any way - pretty pants really..
but it was in this kind of situation that words first really spoke to me. 12 years ago, my first personal encounter with death, when daisy the dog died and made me feel empty and kind of quiet inside. but our chaplain read out this (poem one) by bishop brent and it was the first time poetry seemed to work.

since then, years later - i have been quite into rumi, and came across a poem under the heading 'grief song, praise song: peacefulness with death' which brought me right back to that brent one. i apologise for adding a more melancholy tone, but maybe this kind of peacefulness at evening time is sometimes nice to speak of.

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What is dying?
I am standing on the sea shore.
A ship sails to the morning breeze and starts for the ocean.
She is an object of beauty and I stand watching her till at last she fades on the horizon,
and someone at my side says, 'She is gone'.
Gone where?
Gone from my sight, that is all;
she is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when I saw her,
and just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination.
The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me, not in her;
and just at the moment when someone at my side says,
'She is gone',
there are others who are watching her coming,
and other voices take up a glad shout, 'There she comes'
- and that is dying.

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On the day I die, when I'm being carried
toward the grave, don't weep. Don't say

He's gone! He's gone. Death has nothing
to do with going away. The sun sets and

the moon sets, but they're not gone.
Death is a coming together. The tomb

looks like a prison, but it's really
release into union. The human seed goes

down in the ground like a bucket into
the well where Joseph is. It grows and

comes up full of some unimagined beauty.
Your mouth closes here and immediately

opens with a shout of joy there.

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1 comment:

Vivian said...

speaking of peacefulness:

actually,
the stars aren't stars but sprinkles of thoughts
I couldn't tell you

though I could tell that you understood
through breaths that choked me.

little stranger, little friend.
your eyes held my hand.
our mutual silence.

the sky was such a
heartbreakingly beautiful blue.
shivering in your navy blue sweater,

the stars blinked at me
hugging all my shaking secrets
reassuring with their
cold distant warmth.

like the intangible,
lilac, patience, silence
far out of reach.