Click on the pictures to see enlarged versions of the images.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Refusing at Fifty-Two to Write Sonnets

(Rainy Day in Brussels by Léonard Misonne,
1870-1943, Belgian photographer)

Thomas Lynch (born in 1948), the poet who wrote the sonnet below, is also a funeral director in Michigan.

To him, the work of a poet and of a mortician are “the same enterprise.”

“But here’s the quiet little truth of the matter,” Lynch wrote in a collection of essays,
Bodies in Motion and at Rest: On Metaphor and Mortality. “Requiems and prosodies, sonnets and obsequies, poems and funerals — they are all the same. The arrangement of flowers and homages, casseroles and sympathies; the arrangement of images and idioms, words on a page — it is all the same — an effort at meaning and metaphor, an exercise in symbol and ritualized speech, the heightened acoustics of language raised against what is reckoned unspeakable — faith and heartbreak, desire and pain, love and grief, the joyous and sorrowful mysteries by which we keep track of our lives and times.”


It came to him that he could nearly count
How many late Aprils he had left to him
In increments of ten or, say, eleven
Thus: sixty-three, seventy-four, eighty-five.
He couldn’t see himself at ninety-six —
Humanity’s advances notwithstanding
In health-care, self-help, or new-age regimens —
What with his habits and family history,
The end he thought is nearer than you think.

The future, thereby bound to its contingencies,
The present moment opens like a gift:
The greening month, the golden week, the blue morning,
The hour’s routine, the minute’s passing glance —
All seem like godsends now. And what to make of this?
At the end the word that comes to him is Thanks.


dylan said...

I like this poem immensely, Maria. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, it is to hold and recall all the day. Mary V