Monday, July 30, 2012



For today, a poem I wrote for the occasion of a memorial celebration for the mother of close friends of ours.  As a young man, I loved to rage against death along with Dylan Thomas in the most famous of his poems, "Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night."  Today, even though my words may have "forked no lightning," I have a different view.  It's a young man's poem, blustery, written with eerily passionate foresight by a man who died too young, aged not yet 40.  But my own poem starts with the memory of his.

for Dorothy, and her family,
and for the rest of us

I hope that you went
gentle into that good night.
I hope you did not rage
against the dying of the light.
It’s good and right we grieve
the loss of those we love.
It’s good and right that we recall
what made them human beings
like ourselves: the passage
of a smile across a sunlit face,
or the cloud of doubt, or fear;
the sudden burst of anger;
a throat full of joyful laughter;
a quick, unconscious gesture
that speaks worlds, perhaps;
or simply a familiar turn of phrase
or tone of voice.  It’s good and right
we should recall the joy
these loved ones brought into our lives—
and sometimes, yes, the pain.  It’s good
and right we celebrate them, yes,
and good that we need sometimes
to forgive them, too.  And when
the grieving’s done, when all’s
accounted for and balanced out,
when the time comes, it’s good
we call to mind words written
by a wise woman centuries ago,
words she could as well have written
only yesterday: all shall be well
and all shall be well. And all manner
of things shall be well.


heartinsanfrancisco said...

This is lovely, Peter! Thank you for sharing it.

I have said often of late that my husband, Flip, is not going gentle into that good night as he struggles and fights to remain, against all odds.

PeterAtLarge said...

Thank you, Susan. I do think often of you and Flip when I check in to your blog to see if there's a new entry. I admire your courage and your loyalty, and your lasting love for a special man. I heard yesterday that such a man in our own close family, having spent the last few spiraling down into dementia, is now finally approaching his last days. When these things happen, I am glad to recall those lovely words of Julian of Norwich, cited in the last lines of my poem. I send blessings your way, and good thoughts for you both.