Saturday, November 5, 2016

 In Memoriam 

With you I always saw the potted palms
Marble floors and Chinese jardinieres
Polished ancient oak and well-worn arms
Of venerable tufted leather chairs.

Curious how your face evoked the glow
Of firelight and candles in old brass!
When I knew you, the wine had ceased to flow,
And so I have no love for Irish glass.

But crewel and damask –– spices from the East ––
Herbal tea and pottery Quimper
Feed my sorrow, as my my eyes do feast
On relics left from life within your care.

O, dearest, gentle one, you were the Past ––
A waking dream –– a joy that could not last.

~ FreeThinke

~ § ~

November 5, 2008

On your last day disaster struck the land
For months you had been teetering on the Ledge
Was it th’ election that pushed you off the Edge? ––
The knowledge that by hot air we’d been damned?

We did not know the last thing you would eat
Would be canned pears. How utterly banal!
You’d been my boss, my colleague, my great pal
On whom I’d foisted many a gourmet treat.

Yet, as your life was moving toward the Shade,
You lay quite still, and like a baby bird
Opened up your mouth without a word
And ate those pears –– your last choice ever made.

When you’d had enough, I turned and cried.
You never heard. –– You had already died.

~ FreeThinke

Posted this day, November 5, 2016.
In loving memory of GWS (1930-2008) 
who died eight years ago today.

~ § ~

__ The House on the Hill __

They are all gone away, 
The House is shut and still, 
There is nothing more to say. 

Through broken walls and gray 
The winds blow bleak and shrill: 
They are all gone away. 

Nor is there one to-day 
To speak them good or ill: 
There is nothing more to say. 

Why is it then we stray 
Around the sunken sill? 
They are all gone away, 

And our poor fancy-play 
For them is wasted skill: 
There is nothing more to say. 

There is ruin and decay 
In the House on the Hill: 
They are all gone away, 
There is nothing more to say.

~ Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869-1935)

Organ Chorale Prelude by J.S. Bach
transcribed for piano by Ferrucio Busoni
performed by

The previous thread is still open,
if you must comment on the election
and the issues and personalities
surrounding it.


  1. Much like Tennyson's "Tiresias" (To Old Fitz...)

    1. Old Fitz, who from your suburb grange,
      Where once I tarried for a while,
      Glance at the wheeling orb of change,
      And greet it with a kindly smile;
      Whom yet I see as there you sit
      Beneath your sheltering garden-tree,
      And watch your doves about you flit,
      And plant on shoulder, hand, and knee,
      Or on your head their rosy feet,

      As if they knew your diet spares
      Whatever moved in that full sheet
      Let down to Peter at his prayers;
      Who live on milk and meal and grass;
      And once for ten long weeks I tried
      Your table of Pythagoras,
      –– And seem'd at first "a thing enskied,"
      As Shakespeare has it, airy-light
      To float above the ways of men,
      Then fell from that half-spiritual height
      Chill'd, till I tasted flesh again

      One night when earth was winter-b]ack,
      And all the heavens flash'd in frost;
      And on me, half-asleep, came back
      That wholesome heat the blood had lost,
      And set me climbing icy capes
      And glaciers, over which there roll'd
      To meet me long-arm'd vines with grapes
      Of Eshcol hugeness –– for the cold
      Without, and warmth within me, wrought
      To mould the dream; but none can say
      That Lenten fare makes Lenten thought
      Who reads your golden Eastern lay,
      Than which I know no version done
      In English more divinely well;
      A planet equal to the sun
      Which cast it, that large infidel
      Your Omar, and your Omar drew
      Full-handed plaudits from our best
      In modern letters, and from two,
      Old friends outvaluing all the rest,
      Two voices heard on earth no more;
      But we old friends are still alive,
      And I am nearing seventy-four,
      While you have touch'd at seventy-five,
      And so I send a birthday line
      Of greeting;
      and my son, who dipt
      In some forgotten book of mine
      With sallow scraps of manuscript,
      And dating many a year ago,
      Has hit on this, which you will take,
      My Fitz, and welcome, as I know,
      Less for its own than for the sake
      Of one recalling gracious times,
      When, in our younger London days,
      You found some merit in my rhymes,
      And I more pleasure in your praise.

    2. Yes, Thersites, I think I may know what you meant in referencing this rich treasure trove of images and sentiments, though most of it is much too grand to pertain to the likes of me.

      Everyone should be so blest as to have the influence of an "Old Fitz" in his life.

      I've been extremely fortunate to have had three such mentors among my teachers and older friends. Two reman alive only in my consciousness and ever growing appreciation of the informal education I received from the pleasure of knowing them. Another –– my first piano teacher –– now 93 –– is still with us. His mind, Alas! is fading into senility, but the foundation he gave me for understanding the expressive, and philosophical implications of important music are still growing in me with increasing vitality eat day, even as I near the end if my wn oral days.

      I talk with him –– and his dear, more pragmatic wife, who's been an anchor to windward for BOTH of us –– at least once a week. Though they live a thousand miles from me, I feel very strongly, we are closer than ever before, because the bind between us has continually grown and blossomed from the understanding of fundamental truths they've shared with me, which has become an integral part of all three of us.

      The same is true of those Ive tried to honor with this post who've passed on into Eternity.

      ...I live with him, I hear his voice
      I stand live today as Witness
      To the certainty of Immortality ––
      Taught me by Time –– the lower way ––
      Conviction every day ––
      That life like this is stopless ––
      Be Judgment what it may.

      ~ Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

      As Thornton Wilder said when his Emily asked the Stage Manager, "Does anyone realize how wonderful life is while they're alive?"

      "Only the saints and poets, they do some," was his answer.

      I suppose only persons blest with the Gift of extraordinary Vision and Insight could possibly look beyond the mundane and the personal, then "glance at the Wheel of Change, and greet it with a smile."


    3. Yes, it is difficult to embrace change... and much easier to deride it.

      I've had one mentor, ten years my senior. We still get together weekly... and complain about the changes to our lives. ;)

    4. I din't reject ALL change, but do most bitterly resent "Change for the sake of Change" –– the attitude that one MUST stay n step with Fashion, nd MUSST follow all the latest trends in order to be considered fully alive. That I believe is purest nonsense ––and dangerous to the health and strength of society.

  2. I don't think the pears were banal.

    They were a symbol of care and quite fitting for this last moment with your beloved.
    You obviously cared passionately. I hope the memories are kind.

    1. Thank you for your kind thoughts, Ducky, though you may misunderstand the nature of my grief.

      Are you familiar with the song Do Not Go, My Love, Without Asking My Leave by Richard Hageman?

      You'll find a particularly beautiful 1954 recording by Zinka Milanov at this link:

      This Art Song was once very popular, much beloved by voice teachers, and has been recorded hundreds of times by both women AND men –– some of them great vocal artists of the 1930's, 40's, and 50's.

      Despite its popularity, the song is generally misunderstood. I once had the honor of accompanying the great baritone Sherrill Milnes at a local conference of voice teachers in northern New Jersey. Before performing this song, he explained that it had nothing to do with romantic love or sexual passion, as most ignorantly assume. Instead it is the song of an anxious MOTHER watching through the night at the bedside or her mortally ill CHILD.

      There was an audible gasp from the audience at that. Most of them, despite having taught the piece for decades, never knew what it was about.

      And that's how human beings tend to be with each other –– they proceeded on ignorant assumptions that often lead to grief, disaster and a long series of missed opportunities for true love to bloom and grow.

    2. Do not go, my love, without asking my leave.
      I have watched all night,
      and now my eyes are heavy with sleep;
      I fear lest I lose you when I am sleeping.
      Do not go, my love, without asking my leave.
      I start up and stretch my hands to touch you.
      I ask myself, "Is it a dream?"
      Could I but entangle your feet with my heart,
      And hold them fast to my breast!
      Do not go, my love, without asking my leave.

      ~ Bengali (Indian) text adapted by Richard Hageman

  3. My life closed twice
    Before its close
    It yet remains to see
    If Immortality unveil
    A third Event to me.

    So huge –– so hopeless to conceive ––
    As these that twice befell ––
    Parting is all we know of Heaven ––
    And all we need of Hell.

    Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

    1. Most believe Emily write this in response to the loss of both her parents.



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