The best famous Elegy poems by international web poets. These are the best examples of elegy poems.
Can we not force from widow'd poetry,
Now thou art dead (great Donne) one elegy
To crown thy hearse? Why yet dare we not trust,
Though with unkneaded dough-bak'd prose, thy dust,
Such as th' unscissor'd churchman from the flower
Of fading rhetoric, short-liv'd as his hour,
Dry as the sand that measures it, should lay
Upon thy ashes, on the funeral day?
Have we no voice, no tune? Didst thou dispense
Through all our language, both the words and sense?
'Tis a sad truth. The pulpit may her plain
And sober Christian precepts still retain,
Doctrines it may, and wholesome uses, frame,
Grave homilies and lectures, but the flame
Of thy brave soul (that shot such heat and light
As burnt our earth and made our darkness bright,
Committed holy rapes upon our will,
Did through the eye the melting heart distil,
And the deep knowledge of dark truths so teach
As sense might judge what fancy could not reach)
Must be desir'd forever. So the fire
That fills with spirit and heat the Delphic quire,
Which, kindled first by thy Promethean breath,
Glow'd here a while, lies quench'd now in thy death.
The Muses' garden, with pedantic weeds
O'erspread, was purg'd by thee; the lazy seeds
Of servile imitation thrown away,
And fresh invention planted; thou didst pay
The debts of our penurious bankrupt age;
Licentious thefts, that make poetic rage
A mimic fury, when our souls must be
Possess'd, or with Anacreon's ecstasy,
Or Pindar's, not their own; the subtle cheat
Of sly exchanges, and the juggling feat
Of two-edg'd words, or whatsoever wrong
By ours was done the Greek or Latin tongue,
Thou hast redeem'd, and open'd us a mine
Of rich and pregnant fancy; drawn a line
Of masculine expression, which had good
Old Orpheus seen, or all the ancient brood
Our superstitious fools admire, and hold
Their lead more precious than thy burnish'd gold,
Thou hadst been their exchequer, and no more
They each in other's dust had rak'd for ore.
Thou shalt yield no precedence, but of time,
And the blind fate of language, whose tun'd chime
More charms the outward sense; yet thou mayst claim
From so great disadvantage greater fame,
Since to the awe of thy imperious wit
Our stubborn language bends, made only fit
With her tough thick-ribb'd hoops to gird about
Thy giant fancy, which had prov'd too stout
For their soft melting phrases. As in time
They had the start, so did they cull the prime
Buds of invention many a hundred year,
And left the rifled fields, besides the fear
To touch their harvest; yet from those bare lands
Of what is purely thine, thy only hands,
(And that thy smallest work) have gleaned more
Than all those times and tongues could reap before.
But thou art gone, and thy strict laws will be
Too hard for libertines in poetry;
They will repeal the goodly exil'd train
Of gods and goddesses, which in thy just reign
Were banish'd nobler poems; now with these,
The silenc'd tales o' th' Metamorphoses
Shall stuff their lines, and swell the windy page,
Till verse, refin'd by thee, in this last age
Turn ballad rhyme, or those old idols be
Ador'd again, with new apostasy.
Oh, pardon me, that break with untun'd verse
The reverend silence that attends thy hearse,
Whose awful solemn murmurs were to thee,
More than these faint lines, a loud elegy,
That did proclaim in a dumb eloquence
The death of all the arts; whose influence,
Grown feeble, in these panting numbers lies,
Gasping short-winded accents, and so dies.
So doth the swiftly turning wheel not stand
In th' instant we withdraw the moving hand,
But some small time maintain a faint weak course,
By virtue of the first impulsive force;
And so, whilst I cast on thy funeral pile
Thy crown of bays, oh, let it crack awhile,
And spit disdain, till the devouring flashes
Suck all the moisture up, then turn to ashes.
I will not draw the envy to engross
All thy perfections, or weep all our loss;
Those are too numerous for an elegy,
And this too great to be express'd by me.
Though every pen should share a distinct part,
Yet art thou theme enough to tire all art;
Let others carve the rest, it shall suffice
I on thy tomb this epitaph incise:
Here lies a king, that rul'd as he thought fit
The universal monarchy of wit;
Here lie two flamens, and both those, the best,
Apollo's first, at last, the true God's priest.
Some things that fly there be --
Birds -- Hours -- the Bumblebee --
Of these no Elegy.
Some things that stay there be --
Grief -- Hills -- Eternity --
Nor this behooveth me.
There are that resting, rise.
Can I expound the skies?
How still the Riddle lies!
The earth has many keys,
Where melody is not
Is the unknown peninsula.
Beauty is nature's fact.
But witness for her land,
And witness for her sea,
The cricket is her utmost
Of elegy to me.
As the Sun withdrew his rays from the garden, and the moon threw cushioned beams upon the flowers, I sat under the trees pondering upon the phenomena of the atmosphere, looking through the branches at the strewn stars which glittered like chips of silver upon a blue carpet; and I could hear from a distance the agitated murmur of the rivulet singing its way briskly into the valley.
When the birds took shelter among the boughs, and the flowers folded their petals, and tremendous silence descended, I heard a rustle of feet though the grass. I took heed and saw a young couple approaching my arbor. The say under a tree where I could see them without being seen.
After he looked about in every direction, I heard the young man saying, "Sit by me, my beloved, and listen to my heart; smile, for your happiness is a symbol of our future; be merry, for the sparkling days rejoice with us.
"My soul is warning me of the doubt in your heart, for doubt in love is a sin. "Soon you will be the owner of this vast land, lighted by this beautiful moon; soon you will be the mistress of my palace, and all the servants and maids will obey your commands.
"Smile, my beloved, like the gold smiles from my father's coffers.
"My heart refuses to deny you its secret. Twelve months of comfort and travel await us; for a year we will spend my father's gold at the blue lakes of Switzerland, and viewing the edifices of Italy and Egypt, and resting under the Holy Cedars of Lebanon; you will meet the princesses who will envy you for your jewels and clothes.
"All these things I will do for you; will you be satisfied?"
In a little while I saw them walking and stepping on flowers as the rich step upon the hearts of the poor. As they disappeared from my sight, I commenced to make comparison between love and money, and to analyze their position in the heart.
Money! The source of insincere love; the spring of false light and fortune; the well of poisoned water; the desperation of old age!
I was still wandering in the vast desert of contemplation when a forlorn and specter-like couple passed by me and sat on the grass; a young man and a young woman who had left their farming shacks in the nearby fields for this cool and solitary place.
After a few moments of complete silence, I heard the following words uttered with sighs from weather-bitten lips, "Shed not tears, my beloved; love that opens our eyes and enslaves our hearts can give us the blessing of patience. Be consoled in our delay our delay, for we have taken an oath and entered Love's shrine; for our love will ever grow in adversity; for it is in Love's name that we are suffering the obstacles of poverty and the sharpness of misery and the emptiness of separation. I shall attack these hardships until I triumph and place in your hands a strength that will help over all things to complete the journey of life.
"Love - which is God - will consider our sighs and tears as incense burned at His altar and He will reward us with fortitude. Good-bye, my beloved; I must leave before the heartening moon vanishes."
A pure voice, combined of the consuming flame of love, and the hopeless bitterness of longing and the resolved sweetness of patience, said, "Good-bye, my beloved."
They separated, and the elegy to their union was smothered by the wails of my crying heart.
I looked upon slumbering Nature, and with deep reflection discovered the reality of a vast and infinite thing -- something no power could demand, influence acquire, nor riches purchase. Nor could it be effaced by the tears of time or deadened by sorrow; a thing which cannot be discovered by the blue lakes of Switzerland or the beautiful edifices of Italy.
It is something that gathers strength with patience, grows despite obstacles, warms in winter, flourishes in spring, casts a breeze in summer, and bears fruit in autumn -- I found Love.
Alone in Sutton with Fynbos my orange cat
A long weekend of wind and rain drowning
The tumultuous flurry of mid-February blossom
A surfeit of letters to work through, a mountain
Of files to sort, some irritation at the thought
Of travelling to Kentish Town alone when
My mind was flooded with the mellifluous voice
Of Heath-Stubbs on tape reading ‘The Divided Ways’
In memory of Sidney Keyes.
“He has gone down into the dark cellar
To talk with the bright faced Spirit with silver hair
But I shall never know what word was spoken there.”
The best reader of the century, if not the best poet.
Resonant, mesmeric, his verse the anti-type of mine,
Classical, not personal, Apollonian not Dionysian
And most unconfessional but nonetheless a poet
Deserving honour in his eighty-fifth year.
Thirty people crowded into a room
With stacked chairs like a Sunday School
A table of pamphlets looked over but not bought
A lacquered screen holding court, a century’s junk.
An ivory dial telephone, a bowl of early daffodils
To focus on.
I was the first to read, speaking of James Simmons’ death,
My anguish at the year long silence from his last letter
To the Christmas card in Gaelic Nollaig Shona -
With the message “Jimmy’s doing better than expected.”
The difficulty I had in finding his publisher’s address -
Salmon Press, Cliffs of Moher, County Clare -
Then a soft sad Irish woman’s voice explained
“Jimmy’s had a massive stroke, phone Janice
At The Poet’s House.”
I looked at the letter I would never end or send.
“Your poems have a strength and honesty so rare.
The ability to render character as deftly as a painter.
Your being out-of-fashion shows just how bad things are
Your poetry so easy to enjoy and difficult to forget.
Like Yeats. ‘The Dawning of the Day’ so sad
And eloquent and memorable: I read it aloud
And felt the hairs on the back of my neck prickle
An unflinching bitter rhetoric straight out
Hence the neglect. Your poem about Harrison.
“He has to feel the Odeons sell
Tickets to damned souls, that Dante’s Hell
Is in that red-plush darkness.”
Echoed in Roy Fisher's letter, “Once Harrison and I
Were best mates until fame went to his head.”
James, your ‘Love Leads Me into Danger’
Set off my own despair but restored me
Just as quickly with your sense of beauty’s muted dance.
“passing Dalway’s Bawn
where the chestnuts are, the first trees to go rusty,
old admirals drowned in their own gold braid.”
The scattered alliterations mimic so exquisitely
The random pattern of fallen conkers,
The sense of innocence not wholly clear
The guilt never entirely spent.
‘The Road to Clonbarra’, a poem for the homecoming
After a wedding, the breathlessness of new beginning.
Your own self questioning, “My fourth and last chance marriage,”
Your passionate confessions of failure and plea for absolution
“His thunder storms were in the late night bars.
Home was too hard too dry and far the stars.”
You were so urgent to hear my thoughts on your book
And once too often you were out of luck,
Heath-Stubbs nodded his old sad head.
“Simmons was my friend. I’d no idea he was dead.”
Before I could finish the poem John Rety interrupted
“Can you hurry? There’s others waiting for their turn!”
I muttered to my self, but kept my temper, just...
Eventually Heath-Stubbs began - poet, teacher, wit, raconteur and man
Of letters - littering his poems with references
To three kinds of Arabic genie
The class system of ancient Egypt
The pub architecture of the Edwardian era.
From the back row I strained to see his face.
The craggy jaw, the mane of long white hair.
The bowl of daffodils I’d focused on before.
He spoke but could not read and
Like me had no single poem by heart.
In his stead a man and woman read:
I could forgive the man’s inability to pronounce ‘Dionysian’
But when he read ‘hover’ as ‘haver’
My temper began to frazzle
The woman simpered and ruined every line
As if by design, I took some amitryptilene
And let my mind float free.
‘For Barry, instead of a Christmas card, this elegy
I wrote last week. Fond wishes. Jeremy..’
“So often, David, I still meet
Your benefactor from the time:
her speedwell-blue eyes, blue like yours,
with recollection, while we talk
through leaf-fall, with its mosaic
mottling the toad-spotted wet street.”
I looked at Heath-Stubbs’ face, his sightless eyes,
And in a second understood what Gascoyne meant
“Now the light of a prism has flashed like a bird down the dark-blue,
At the end of which mountains of shadow pile up beyond sight
Oh radiant prism
A wing has been torn and its feathers drift scattered by flight.”
for Ken Kesey and his merry pranksters in a bus called ‘Further...’
Dear _______ and here’s where the problem begins
For who shall I address this letter to?
Friends are few and very special, muses in the main
I must confess, the first I lost just fifty years ago.
Perhaps the best.
I searched for years and wrote en route
‘Bridge Over the Aire’ after that vision and that voice
“I am here. I am waiting”. I followed every lead
Margaret Gardiner last heard of in the Falmouth’s
Of Leeds 9, early fifties. Barry Tebb your friend from then
Would love to hear from you.”
The sole reply
A mis-directed estimate for papering a bungalow
In Penge. I nearly came unhinged as weeks
Ran into months of silence. Was it. I wondered.
A voice from the beyond?
The vision was given
Complete with backcloth of resplendent stars
The bridge’s grey transmuted to a sheen of pearl
The chipped steps became transparent stairs to heaven
Our worn clothes, like Cinders’ at the ball, cloaks and gowns
Of infinite splendour but only for the night, remember!
I passed the muse’s diadem to Sheila Pritchard,
My genius-child-poet of whom Redgrove said
“Of course, you are in love” and wrote for her
‘My Perfect Rose!’
Last year a poet saw it
In the British Council Reading Room in distant Kazakstan
And sent his poems to me on paper diaphanous
As angels’ wings and delicate as ash
And tinted with a splash of lemon
And a dash of mignonette.
I last saw Sheila circa nineteen sixty seven
Expelled from grammar school wearing a poncho
Hand-made from an army blanket
Working a stall in Kirkgate Market.
Brenda Williams, po?te maudit if ever,
By then installed as muse number three
Grew sadly jealous for the only time
In thirty-seven years: muse number two
Passed into the blue
There is another muse, who makes me chronologically confused.
Barbara, who overlaps both two and three
And still is there, somewhere in Leeds.
Who does remember me and who, almost alone.
Inspired my six novellas: we write and
Talk sometimes and in a crisis she is there for me,
Muse number four, though absent for a month in Indonesia.
Remains. I doubt if there will be a fifth.
There is a poet, too, who is a friend and writes to me
From Hampstead, from a caf? in South End Green.
His cursive script on rose pink paper symptomatic
Of his gift for eloquent prose and poetry sublime
His elegy on David Gascoyne’s death quite takes my breath
And the title of his novel ‘Lipstick Boys’ I'll envy always,
There are some few I talk and write to
And occasionally meet. David Lambert, poet and teacher
Of creative writing, doing it ‘my way’ in the nineties,
UEA found his services superfluous to their needs.
? ? you may fuck like hell,
But I abhor your jealous narcissistic smell
And as for your much vaunted pc prose
I’d rather stick my prick inside the thorniest rose.
Jeanne Conn of ‘Connections’ your letters
are even longer than my own and Maggie Allen
Sent me the only Valentine I’ve had in sixty years
These two do know my longings and my fears,
Dear Simon Jenner, Eratica’s erratic editor, your speech
So like the staccato of a bren, yet loaded
With a lifetime’s hard-won ken of poetry’s obscurest corners.
I salute David Wright, that ‘difficult deaf son’
Of the sixties, acknowledged my own youthful spasm of enthusiasm
But Simon you must share the honour with Jimmy Keery,
Of whom I will admit I’m somewhat leery,
His critical acuity so absolute and steely.
I ask you all to stay with me
Through time into infinity
Not even death can undo
The love I have for you.
For Jeremy Reed
Rejection doesn’t lead me to dejection
But to inspiration via irritation
Or at least to a bit of naughty new year wit-
Oh isn’t it a shame my poetry’s not tame
Like Rupert’s or Jay’s - I never could
Get into their STRIDE just to much pride
To lick the arses of the poetry-of-earthers
Or the sad lady who runs KATABASIS from the back
Of a bike, gets shouted at by rude parkies
And writing huffy poems to prove it...
Oh to be acceptable and
IN THE POETRY REVIEW
Like Lavinia or Jo
With double spreads
And a glossy colour photo
Instead I’m stuck in a bus queue at Morden
London’s meridian point of zero imagination
Actually it’s a bit like ACUMEN with the Oxleys
Boasting about their 150,000 annual submissions-
If what they print’s the best God help the rest...)
At least my Christmas post had - instead of a card
From Jeremy Reed - his ELEGY FOR DAVID GASCOYNE -
The best poem I’ve had by post in forty years
And Jeremy’s best to date in my estimate -
The English APOLLINAIRE - your ZONE, your SONG
OF THE BADLY LOVED - sitting in a cafe in South End Green
I send you this poem, Jeremy, sight unseen,
A new year’s gift to you, pushing through
To star galaxies still unmapped and to you, BW,
Sonneteer of silence, huddled in the fourth month
Of your outdoor vigil, measuring in blood, tears and rain
Your syllable count in hour-glass of pain.
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd wind slowly o'er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds;
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such as, wandering near her secret bower,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree's shade,
Where heaves the turf in many a mould'ring heap,
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.
The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,
The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed,
The cock's shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening-care;
No children run to lisp their sire's return,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke:
How jocund did they drive their team afield!
How bowed the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!
Let not Ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys and destiny obscure;
Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
The short and simple annals of the poor.
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Awaits alike th' inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
If Memory o'er their tomb no trophies raise,
Where through the long-drawn aisle, and fretted vault,
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.
Can storied urn, or animated bust,
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flattery soothe the dull cold ear of Death?
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
Hands, that the rod of empire might have swayed,
Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre;
But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
Rich with the spoils of Time, did ne'er unroll;
Chill Penury repressed their noble rage,
And froze the genial current of the soul.
Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear;
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
Some village-Hampden that with dauntless breast
The little tyrant of his fields withstood,
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country's blood.
Th' applause of list'ning senates to command,
The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their history in a nation's eyes,
Their lot forbad: nor circumscribed alone
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined;
Forbad to wade through slaughter to a throne,
And shut the Gates of Mercy on mankind,
The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame,
Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride
With incense kindled at the Muse's flame.
Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife
Their sober wishes never learned to stray;
Along the cool sequestered vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.
Yet ev'n these bones from insult to protect
Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture decked,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.
Their name, their years, spelt by th' unlettered Muse,
The place of fame and elegy supply:
And many a holy text around she strews,
That teach the rustic moralist to die.
For who, to dumb Forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing anxious being e'er resigned,
Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,
Nor cast one longing ling'ring look behind?
On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
Ev'n from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,
Ev'n in our ashes live their wonted fires.
For thee, who, mindful of th' unhonoured dead,
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;
If chance, by lonely Contemplation led,
Some kindred spirit shall enquire thy fate,—
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say
"Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
Brushing with hasty steps the dews away
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn;
"There at the foot of yonder nodding beech,
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high,
His listless length at noon-tide would he stretch,
And pore upon the brook that babbles by.
"Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
Mutt'ring his wayward fancies would he rove;
Now drooping, woeful-wan, like one forlorn,
Or crazed with care, or crossed in hopeless love.
"One morn I missed him from the customed hill,
Along the heath, and near his fav'rite tree;
Another came; nor yet beside the rill,
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he:
"The next, with dirges due in sad array
Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne,—
Approach and read, for thou can'st read, the lay
Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn."
Here rests his head upon the lap of earth
A Youth, to Fortune and to Fame unknown:
Fair Science frowned not on his humble birth,
And Melancholy marked him for her own.
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
Heaven did a recompense as largely send:
He gave to Misery (all he had) a tear,
He gained from Heaven ('twas all he wished) a friend.
No farther seek his merits to disclose,
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
(There they alike in trembling hope repose,)
The bosom of his Father and his God.
The First Elegy
Who if I cried out would hear me among the angels'
hierarchies? and even if one of them pressed me
suddenly against his heart: I would be consumed
I that overwhelming existence. For beauty is nothing
but the beginning of terror which we still are just able to endure
and we are so awed because it serenely disdains
to annihilate us. Every angel is terrifying.
And so I hold myself back and swallow the call-note
Of my dark sobbing. Ah whom can we ever turn to
in our need? Not angels not humans
and already the knowing animals are aware
that we are not really at home in
our interpreted world. Perhaps there remains for us
some tree on a hillside which every day we can take
into our vision; there remains for us yesterday's street
and the loyalty of a habit so much at ease
when it stayed with us that it moved in and never left.
Oh and night: there is night when a wind full of infinite space
gnaws at out faces. Whom would it not remain for-that longed-after
mildly disillusioning presence which the solitary heart
so painfully meets. Is it any less difficult for lovers?
But they keep on using each other to hide their own fate.
Don't you know yet? Fling the emptiness out of your arms
Into the spaces we breathe; perhaps the birds
will feel the expanded air with more passionate flying.
Yes-the springtime needed you. Often a star
was waiting for you to notice it. A wave rolled toward you
out of the distant past or as you walked
under an open window a violin
yielded itself to your hearing. All this was mission.
But could you accomplish it? Weren't you always
Distracted by expectation as if every event
announced a beloved? (Where can you find a place
to keep her with all the huge strange thoughts inside you
going and coming and often staying all night.)
But when you feel longing sing of women in love;
for their famous passion is still not immortal. Sing
of women abandoned and desolate (you envy them almost)
who could love so much more purely than those who were gratified.
Begin again and again the never-attainable praising;
remember: the hero lives on; even his downfall was
merely a pretext for achieving his final birth.
But Nature spent and exhausted takes lovers back
into herself as if there were not enough strength
to create them a second time. Have you imagined
Gaspara Stampa intensely enough so that any girl
deserted by her beloved might be inspired
by that fierce example of soaring objectless love
and might say to herself Perhaps I can be like her ?
Shouldn't this most ancient suffering finally grow
more fruitful for us? Isn't it time that we lovingly
freed ourselves from the beloved and quivering endured:
as the arrow endures the bowstring's tension so that
gathered in the snap of release it can be more than
itself. For there is no place where we can remain.
Voices. Voices. Listen my heart as only
Saints have listened: until the gigantic call lifted them
off the ground; yet they kept on impossibly
kneeling and didn't notice at all:
so complete was their listening. Not that you could endure
God's voice-far from it. But listen to the voice of the wind
and the ceaseless message that forms itself out of silence.
It is murmuring toward you now from those who died young.
Didn't their fate whenever you stepped into a church
In Naples or Rome quietly come to address you?
Or high up some eulogy entrusted you with a mission
as last year on the plaque in Santa Maria Formosa.
What they want of me is that I gently remove the appearance
of injustice about their death-which at times
slightly hinders their souls from proceeding onward.
Of course it is strange to inhabit the earth no longer
to give up customs one barely had time to learn
not to see roses and other promising Things
in terms of a human future; no longer to be
what one was in infinitely anxious hands; to leave
even one's own first name behind forgetting it
as easily as a child abandons a broken toy.
Strange to no longer desire one's desires. Strange
to see meanings that clung together once floating away
in every direction. And being dead is hard work
and full of retrieval before one can gradually feel
a trace of eternity. -Though the living are wrong to believe
in the too-sharp distinctions which they themselves have created.
Angels (they say) don't know whether it is the living
they are moving among or the dead. The eternal torrent
whirls all ages along in it through both realms
forever and their voices are drowned out in its thunderous roar.
In the end those who were carried off early no longer need us:
they are weaned from earth's sorrows and joys as gently as children
outgrow the soft breasts of their mothers. But we who do need
such great mysteries we for whom grief is so often
the source of our spirit's growth-: could we exist without them?
Is the legend meaningless that tells how in the lament for Linus
the daring first notes of song pierced through the barren numbness;
and then in the startled space which a youth as lovely as a god
had suddenly left forever the Void felt for the first time
that harmony which now enraptures and comforts and helps us.
born 19.6.32 - deported 24.9.42
Undesirable you may have been, untouchable
you were not. Not forgotten
or passed over at the proper time.
As estimated, you died. Things marched,
sufficient, to that end.
Just so much Zyklon and leather, patented
terror, so many routine cries.
(I have made
an elegy for myself it
September fattens on vines. Roses
flake from the wall. The smoke
of harmless fires drifts to my eyes.
This is plenty. This is more than enough.