Saturday, 30 June 2012


I sometimes wonder if Don Paterson isn't the most technically gifted living British poet.  Here's a short one from 1999's The Eyes, 'Paradoxes':
Only in our sorrows do we live
within the heart of consciousness, the lie.
Meeting his master crying in the road
a student took Solon to task: "but why,
your son so long in the ground, do you still grieve
if, as you say, man's tears avail him nothing?'
'Young friend,' said Solon, lifting his old head,
'I weep because my tears avail me nothing.'
Neat. But also a portrait of an egotism so huge as to be almost monstrous ... 'I will not weep for my dead son, but I will weep for myself, that I do not weep for my dead son.'  Or perhaps it's not egotism.  Perhaps this is the dark truth we try to ignore about bereavement: we're not sad for the dead, who are beyond troubles. We're sad for ourself.  Grief is a mode of self pity.

1 comment:

Boxman said...

One thing that always struck me about the Burial Service in the Book of Common Prayer is that it hardly talks about the dead person at all; all the prayers and 'comfort' are aimed at the living, grieving, the ones left behind. This approach always seemed very wise to me, even if the grievers might expect the focus to be on the dear departed.