Tag Archives: death and dying

He Sleeps Less Cold Than We Who Wake

Wilfred Owen’s “Asleep” looks with sorrow at the death of a comrade.

Posted in Owen (Wilfred) | Also tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

A Child’s Connection with the Dead

Wordsworth’s “We Are Seven” captured my son’s sense of connection with his dead brother.

Posted in Wordsworth (William) | Also tagged , , | 3 Comments

Where Are the Games of Yesteryear?

Christmas I shared “Ballad of the Games of Yesteryear” this past spring when my father temporarily lapsed into dementia. But he wrote it as a Christmas poem and so I’m posting it again as I mourn the first Christmas spent without him. Now that he is dead, the poem contains special meaning, echoing as it […]

Posted in Villon (Francois) | Also tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

For Sontag, Purpose of Lit Was Change

Susan Sontag loved literature because she craved “new blood and new nourishment and new inspiration.”

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Our Strands Grow Richer With Each Loss

May Sarton’s beautiful poem “All Souls” reminds us that our dead continue to move through us.

Posted in Sarton (May) | Also tagged , , , | Leave a comment

My Father Moved through Dooms of Love

At my father’s memorial service, we read poems by e.e. cummings, Shakespeare, Jacques Prévert, and my father himself.

Posted in Bates (Scott), cummings (e.e.), Shakespeare (William) | Also tagged , , | 9 Comments

Farewell to the Boy with the Golden Crown

Yesterday at my father’s memorial service I read ones of his poems about the recurrent cycle of life.

Posted in Bates (Scott) | Also tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Song of Night’s Sweet Bird

Shelley’s elegy to Keats, “Adonais,” gives us a rich vision of our relationship with death.

Posted in Keats (John), Shelley (Percy) | Also tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Green Knight’s Lessons on Death & Dying

My next book will be on what “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” teaches us about death and dying.

Posted in Sir Gawain Poet | Also tagged | 1 Comment

Carrying on a Poetic Quest after a Death

Now that my father has died, my mother will be taking on sole responsibility for the local newspaper’s poetry column.

Posted in McMurtry (Larry) | Also tagged , | 2 Comments

Poetry vs. Death’s Madness

In the face of death, poetry stands as a bulwark against dissolution, chaos, and madness.

Posted in Dickens (Charles), Dunnett (Dorothy), McGrath (Thomas), O'Driscoll (Ciaran), Vonnegut (Kurt) | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Time for Silence

Silence can be a very powerful response to tragedy.

Posted in Bible | Also tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Waiting for the Tide to Turn

Dickinson, Coleridge and Dickens come to mind as we await the moment of my father’s death.

Posted in Coleridge (Samuel Taylor), Dickens (Charles), Dickinson (Emily) | Also tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Moving through Death’s Doorway

My father’s poem about Andersen’s “The Little Match Girl” is comforting me as he slides towards death.

Posted in Andersen (Hans Christian), Bates (Scott) | Also tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Magnificent Women in the Sick Room

Tolstoy shows us deathbed vigils can spur us to a deeper engagement with life.

Posted in Donne (John), Eliot (George), Thomas (R. S.), Tolstoy (Leo) | Also tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

My Father Piped Songs of Pleasant Glee

As I read my dying father poems from Blake’s “Songs of Innocence,” I relived cherished memories.

Posted in Blake (William) | Also tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Rising Floodwaters of Sadness

My father is dying. One of his last acts was to find an A. A. Milne passage about Sewanee’s incessant rain for the local newspaper.

Posted in Milne (A. A.) | Also tagged , , , | 9 Comments

High Bouncing Lover, I Must Have You

Fitzgerald’s epigraph to “Great Gatsby” challenges us to live life to the fullest.

Posted in Fitzgerald (F. Scott) | Also tagged , , | 1 Comment

On Loving and Letting Go

Mary Oliver’s “In Blackwater Woods” instructs us in how to live and how to die.

Posted in Oliver (Mary) | Also tagged , | 4 Comments

Upon the Anniversary of My Son’s Death

Remembering my son’s death brings to mind a beautiful elegy by John Dryden.

Posted in Dryden (John) | Also tagged , | 3 Comments

Brothers Bonding over a Father’s Illness

Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues,” about two brothers learning to bond, captures some of the bonding I am doing with my second brother over our father’s illness.

Posted in Baldwin (James) | Also tagged , , | Leave a comment

Poetry in a Time of Mourning

Poetry by E. A. Robinson and Edna St. Vincent Millay played a key role in my cousin’s memorial service.

Posted in Bates (Daniel), Robinson (Edward Arlington), St. Vincent Millay (Edna) | Also tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I Thought That Love Would Last Forever…

The death of a beloved cousin is throwing me into the primal pain described by Tennyson and Auden.

Posted in Auden (W. H.), Tennyson (Alfred Lord) | Also tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Art Goes Where Humans Can’t

A dying professor in Gail Godwin’s novel “The Good Husband” turns to John Donne’s “Second Anniversary” to comfort her.

Posted in Donne (John), Godwin (Gail) | Also tagged , , , | 1 Comment

The Dead Return to Comfort Us

The Pedro Almodovar film “Volver” explores the longing the love will prove more powerful than death.

Posted in Volver (film) | Also tagged , , | 4 Comments

Facing Up to the Gargoyle of Cancer

One of my students is exploring her mother’s terminal illness, and her own grieving, through Gail Godwin’s novel “The Good Husband.”

Posted in Godwin (Gail) | Also tagged , | 3 Comments

Faustus’s Soul and a Grieving Student

This past year I have learned, in a new and powerful way, that the Faustus legend is a powerful exploration of the meaning of life and death. This is thanks to Caitie Harrigan, a senior at St. Mary’s who has been writing her senior project on the legend. As Caitie told me recently, she never […]

Posted in Marlowe (Christopher) | Also tagged , , | 7 Comments

A Child’s Murder, a Humane Vision

“Troubled Water,” a 2008 Norwegian film about a horrendous crime, brings out the depth and humanity of everyone involved.

Posted in Bridge over Troubled Water (film) | Also tagged , , | Leave a comment

Twilight, Evening Bell, After That the Dark

I share Tennyson’s wonderful poem “Crossing the Bar” in memory of an old Navy friend who died this past week.

Posted in Bates (Julia), Tennyson (Alfred Lord) | Also tagged , , | 2 Comments

Hitchens: A Life Lived in Literature

Even in his final days, Christopher Hitchens was having active discussions about novels, poems and plays. He understood how much was at stake in literature.

Posted in Hitchens (Christopher) | Also tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

The Black Dragon Scales of Grief

Nobel laureate Thomas Tranströmer’s poem “After a Death” accurately captures how it feels to lose someone you love.

Posted in Beowulf Poet, Tranströmer (Thomas) | Also tagged , , | 2 Comments

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