Monday, February 4, 2013

What can I give him?

For most of the people I would
understand, and who might do
the same for me, this question
adopts a phrasing which trans-
poses it to another realm; and
we all live with many such pre-
emptions. In this case a poem,
later a Christmas carol, beat
us to the punch line, and yet
has framed the natural expres-
sion of my consternation, every
first week in February, as my
brother's birth date looms. In
fact I do not enormously mind;
I'm not sure when I noticed the
correlation of my question, and
the mystification I shared with
Rossetti's impecunious figure;
but the boy had been a chorister
and I accepted it as permitted.

A blog is stamped with personality but is not personal, a reader lately remonstrated to me. What could anyone give, I won-dered, if that were the case? Only our love can make us feel unread. Oh, we'd quarrel. There is turmoil in fruition; authorship's a rubbing clear. 

I would give my brother the fortitude to accept his absence. I would give him the peace he has made with his death. I would give him the imprint of our escapades and larks, our studies and our talks, our sharings of a common bath. I would give him what is shining even clearer in the shade, and I would give him evidence, it mattered how we played.

  Cottage cheese
  Garden peas
  Ovid's Metamorphoses


  1. This is an extraordinarily moving post. Thank you. Of course, it reminded of Catullus (not Ovid):

    Multas per gentes et multa per aequora vectus
    advenio has miseras, frater, ad inferias,
    ut te postremo donarem munere mortis
    et mutam nequiquam alloquerer cinerem.
    Quandoquidem fortuna mihi tete abstulit ipsum.
    Heu miser indigne frater adempte mihi,
    nunc tamen interea haec, prisco quae more parentum
    tradita sunt tristi munere ad inferias,
    accipe fraterno multum manantia fletu,
    atque in perpetuum, frater, ave atque vale.

    Catullus too wanted to give his brohter a gift. Yours however, is, I think, gentler, more pleasing.

    1. Your generous reminder of this great poetic statement does land a more than glancing tap upon a persistent, natural tendency here, to query the fairness of certain circumstances. The circumstances of the general catastrophe are not ours to dismiss, especially in view of the lingering of their cause. Ovid, need I say, is not cited to address this disposition, but as the coeval of other nutrition.

      Thank you for sharing your visit to this page, and for offering support of our understanding.

  2. I would give him what is shining even clearer in the shade, and I would give him evidence, it mattered how we played.

    Laurent, you brought me to tears.

    1. I didn't desire to do that, dear BL, but I know what you mean. So many thoughts, of so many of our friends can fit within these lines, that of course they are not exclusive, and if they speak of something for us, we let them. I am grateful, too, to Valéry Lorenzo, for his gift of this picture, and to this language of ours, that sometimes reaches out in a manner of its own.

      As always, I thank you for coming.

  3. I saw the title and thought of the poem and its last line, then read your post and breathed a deep sigh, remembering my recent loss. Sometimes I think time, as it goes round and round the calendar, simply exists to give us the opportunity to remember - and yes - love. Thank your for making me remember.

    1. The opportunities of time are extraordinary, as you say, and demanding, too. I think of how much I have to extract in what they permit, and I realise, we don't mean it when we say it is too short, but that it is too generous. As in furnishing your visit.