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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

O Day of Mourning, part one

The most difficult sentiments to express are those at the death of a friend or a loved one. It is at this time that poems can give comfort.

When the death is preceded by a painful struggle, let the poet speak for you.

The Heart asks Pleasure — first —
And then — Excuse from Pain —
And then — those little Anodynes
That deaden suffering —

And then — to go to sleep —
And then — if it should be
The will of its Inquisitor
The privilege to die —

~ Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), American poet


Barbara Sullivan Mangogna said...

Emily is so beautiful and insightful. Our clan likes this (author unknown to us):
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am the thousand winds that blow...
I am the diamond glints on snow...
I am the sunlight on ripened grain...
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you waken in morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of gentle birds in circling flight...
I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry...
I am not there...I did not die.

maria horvath said...

The writer of this poem was Mary E. Frye (1905-2004).

For many years the authorship of this popular poem was in dispute. But then, as reported in the London Times obituary,

"Frye’s assertion that she wrote the piece was confirmed in 1998 after research by Abigail Van Buren, the newspaper columnist responsible for the popular column 'Dear Abby'.

"Frye had never written any poetry before 1932, when she and her husband had a young German Jewish girl, Margaret Schwarzkopf, staying with them. According to Frye, their guest had been concerned about her mother, who was ill in Germany, but she had been warned not to return home because of increasing anti-Semitic unrest. When her mother died, the heartbroken young woman told Frye that she never had the chance to 'stand by my mother’s grave and shed a tear'.

"Frye found herself composing a piece of verse on a brown paper shopping bag. Later she said that the words 'just came to her' and expressed what she felt about life and death. Because people liked the free, open-air nature of her 12-line, untitled verse, she made many copies and circulated them privately. The verse demonstrated a remarkable power to soothe loss. It became popular, crossing national boundaries for use on bereavement cards and at funerals regardless of race, religion or social status."