Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Mourning and Loss in Poems



Nothing Gold Can Stay
Robert Frost, 1874 - 1963

 Nature’s first green is gold, 
Her hardest hue to hold. 
Her early leaf’s a flower; 
But only so an hour. 
Then leaf subsides to leaf. 
So Eden sank to grief, 
So dawn goes down to day. 
Nothing gold can stay.


What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why (Sonnet XLIII)
Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892 - 1950

 What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why, 
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain 
Under my head till morning; but the rain 
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh 
Upon the glass and listen for reply, 
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain 
For unremembered lads that not again 
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry. 
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree, 
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one, 
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before: 
I cannot say what loves have come and gone, 
I only know that summer sang in me 
A little while, that in me sings no more.


Forever
Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1872 - 1906

I had not known before
    Forever was so long a word.
The slow stroke of the clock of time
    I had not heard.

‘Tis hard to learn so late;
    It seems no sad heart really learns,
But hopes and trusts and doubts and fears,
    And bleeds and burns.

The night is not all dark,
    Nor is the day all it seems,
But each may bring me this relief—
    My dreams and dreams.

I had not known before
    That Never was so sad a word,
So wrap me in forgetfulness—
     I have not heard


All the Names We Will Not Know
Naomi Shihab Nye, 1952

         (for Adriana Corral)

Before dawn, trembling in air down to the old river,

circulating gently as a new season

delicate still in its softness, rustling raiment

of hopes never stitched tightly enough to any hour.

I was almost, maybe, just about, going to do that.

A girl’s thick dark hair, brushed over one shoulder

so regularly no one could imagine it not being there.

Hair as a monument.   Hovering - pitched.

Beloved sister, maker of plans, main branch,

we needed you desperately, where have you gone?

Here is the sentence called No no no no no.

Come back, everything grants you your freedom,

here in the mire of too much thinking,

we drown, we drown, split by your echo.


Mourning and Loss in Poems
Joe, 1977

I had a poem that I really liked,
But I was in a somber mood last night.
I searched for poems of mourning and loss;
Some I kept; and some I tossed.
I decided I’d go with Frost.

I love the poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay,”
Then read Sonnet XLIII by Millay.
She writes of kisses and boys who are gone.
“Never was so sad a word,”
All my moods could clearly be heard.

I chose one last poem by N.S. Nye,
Because I wish I could have said goodbye.
He was a friend that I cannot forget.
My mind races; I am aghast.
“I love you” the words he said last.

3 comments: