Friday, July 30, 2010

What it means to live

A regular contributor to this space, Karen from Tennessee, sent this email the other day along with a poem. I was very touched when I read this, and so I give it to you today, along with the poem that came with it:

From Karen. . .
I have a friend whose husband is dying. We stood on her porch the other night in this oppressive heat and spoke plainly about death, that most essential force in determining and understanding what to means to live.
Almost a year ago when April passed away, we were all together— physically, spiritually, emotionally— we were bound to her and to each other (and I believe, we all still are) whereas my friend is essentially facing this personal loss on her own. And yet she is doing so with a great bravery and dignity, she had a strength in her face that belies any kind of platitudes. There are many ways to live, and to love each other……
By Keith Douglas, 1939

The stars still marching in extended order
move out of nowhere into nowhere. Look, they are halted
on a vast field tonight, true no man's land.
Far down the sky with sword and belt must stand
Orion. For commissariat of this exalted
war-company, the Wain. No fabulous border

could swallow all this bravery, no band
will ever face them: nothing but discipline
has mobilized and still maintains them. So
Time and his ancestors have seen them. So
always to fight disorder is their business,
and victory continues in their hand.

From under the old hills to overhead,
and down there marching on the hills again
their camp extends. There go the messengers,
Comets, with greetings of ethereal officers
from tent to tent. Yes, we look up with pain
at distant comrades and plains we cannot tread.
Photo: The Trifid Nebula (M20), by Robert Gendler, NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day

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