For those of us who live more or less by solstices and equinoxes, there are a few weeks of summer yet, but for those whose lives follow the academic calendar, the summer is already dying or, perhaps, already dead. And so it goes, and so all things on earth go. So all men go, whether from a bored child’s gun, a poor driver’s car, a cancer, a chemical attack, or a thousand other things, the list ending with the quiet “old age.”
Typically I skip to that one, unwilling to acknowledge that any one of the people I love the most could be taken from me at any moment. It’s difficult to face the fact that I am mortal and will one day be dust, but far more difficult to face the potential loss of parents, brothers, or friends.
How terrible to love what Death can touch,
and find one’s shadowed cloak of apathy
ripped off by fears of life made misery
should it approach to keep you in its clutch.
Perhaps I wouldn’t fret or fear so much
were there some way to fill a treasury
with moments shared, safe from Time’s thievery:
that song, those eyes, paths nigh-forgot, and such.
But fleeting moments never are enough,
not even when they’re in the present tense,
for Time is Death’s dog, hounding us by flight.
It might well sound like greed rather than love
to wonder what I’ll do, when you go hence –
still, greed is not more eager for that night.
I don’t remember hearing the line ‘Tis a fearful thing to love what death can touch, but it seemed the sort of thing that I couldn’t have invented on my own. My attempts to find out who said it first brought this post to my attention. Seems a 12th century fellow wrote the poem (unlike me, more out of remembrance than fear). It is a fearful, human, and holy thing, he says, to love that which is mortal.
How much more fearful and holy, then, is divine love, which submits itself to death for the sake of the beloved?
Your life has lived in me, indeed.