For Paul x
April 1982 - May 2015.
Funeral Blues - WH Auden
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message 'He is Dead'.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
Edges of Emptiness - Marge Piercy
Those who truly inhabit our lives
whose faces, whose gestures
like fine choreography align the air,
whose voices enter that ghostly inner ear
so that we shall hear them ten years
later in an empty room at dusk,
never can their presence be replaced.
Those with whom we are truly intimate
sometimes with hands and organs,
sometimes with the paste of words alone,
the creatures for whom the hollow
places of our solitude are opened wide
to shimmer with the lighted lamps of love,
we shape ourselves to hold them.
We have been configured to a use,
a habitation. We are the chambered
shell of a nautilus, the high steep
coil of a conch, and always those vaults,
those winding galleries of pearl
will futilely await the one whose need
and pleasure they hardened around.
In love we weave ourselves together,
Persian carpets with the colors
of each friendship knotted fine and tight,
the pattern as visible on the reverse.
That dance of hue and light we studied
to perfect will never again join.
Loneliness is general or precise:
broad as a wheatfield under a broad Nebraska
sky or narrow as a footpath between
cliff and canyon. Particular, we starve
at Thanksgiving table. Feed us voices, tales,
faces, ornaments, we suck a shard of glass.
Those hungers lodge in our bones where they
sign to the skilled in X-rays, until death.
Death Is Nothing At All - Henry Scott Holland
Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away
into the next room.
Nothing has happened.
Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you.
And the old life that we lived
so fondly together
is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other,
that we still are.
Call me by my old familiar name,
Speak of me in the easy way you always used.
Put no difference in your tone,
wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we shared together.
Let my name be ever
the household word it always was.
Let it be spoken without effort,
without a trace of a shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant,
It is the same as it ever was.
There is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you
for an interval.
Somewhere, very near,
just around a corner.
All is well.
Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all
will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting
when we meet again!