(Poem #926) Dirge Without Music
I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground. So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind: Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned. Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you. Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust. A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew, A formula, a phrase remains,--but the best is lost. The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love, -- They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve. More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world. Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave, Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind; Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave. I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
Rhyme scheme: abab. Metre: irregular. What can one say about a poem as magnificent as this? That it's defiant, and courageous, and resolute? Or that it's sad, and lonely, and vulnerable? That it's finely crafted, meticulously detailed, skilfully plotted? Or that it's raw, visceral, spontaneous? Choose what adjectives you will (and to be honest, I think _all_ of the above apply); the truth is, the poem speaks for itself more powerfully than any second-hand description could ever hope to do. So go, read it again, and think, and feel, and be grateful for Millay, for Yeats, for Auden, for William Shakespeare and Dylan Thomas and John Donne, for Robert Browning, John Keats, Rudyard Kipling, for Tennyson and Eliot and Pound and Dickinson, for Li Po, Omar Khayyam, Matsuo Basho -- in short, for all the wonderful poets who've written all the wonderful poems that it has been my privilege and joy to share with this list. thomas. [Minstrels Links] Edna St. Vincent Millay: Poem #34, First Fig Poem #49, The Unexplorer Poem #108, The Penitent Poem #317, Inland Poem #590, Sonnet XLIII Poem #604, Euclid Alone Has Looked On Beauty Bare Poem #817, Grown-up Poem #860, Sonnet: Love Is Not All Poem #905, Sonnet: I will put Chaos into Fourteen Lines Elegies and the like: Poem #38, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night -- Dylan Thomas Poem #46, Lament for Boromir -- J. R. R. Tolkien Poem #50, In Memory of W. B. Yeats -- W. H. Auden Poem #144, On the Eve of His Execution -- Chidiock Tichborne Poem #157, O Captain! My Captain! -- Walt Whitman Poem #220, Lament for Eorl the Young -- J. R. R. Tolkien Poem #256, Funeral Blues -- W. H. Auden Poem #286, An Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog -- Oliver Goldsmith Poem #335, After the Funeral (In memory of Ann Jones) -- Dylan Thomas Poem #392, Good -- R. S. Thomas Poem #448, To The Immortal Memory of the Halibut, On Which I Dined This Day, Monday, April 26, 1784 -- William Cowper Poem #500, A Dirge -- Percy Bysshe Shelley Poem #574, Growltiger's Last Stand -- T. S. Eliot Poem #672, Death -- Thomas Hood Poem #707, The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner -- Randall Jarrell Poem #751, Elegies -- Guillevic Poem #770, A Thing of Beauty is a Joy for Ever -- John Keats Poem #774, Ray -- Hayden Carruth Poem #796, Death Be Not Proud (Holy Sonnets: X) -- John Donne Poem #918, John Kinsella's Lament for Mrs Mary Moore -- William Butler Yeats Poem #921, Charlie Freak -- Steely Dan