This poem was supposed to have been my suicide note, yet it was the act of writing it that saved my life. I had grandly titled it Anamnesis (Greek for ‘remembering’) for no reason save that the word sounded good; but, reading it now, I find it awkward in construction, inconsistent in tone, and quite unimaginative in imagery (oh, if only I could do a Neruda!); and I now heartily agree with Hemingway that “the first draft is shit”. Of course, when I wrote it, I thought it equal to Newman‘s “Gerontius“, and it did save my life; so tolle, lege, and glory be to God for silly things!
By the way, my friend M.A. says some lines in it aren’t original. If you notice any, Dear Reader, that are indeed derivative (and, yes, there are some Scriptural and Nominalist allusions), please tell me so I can properly acknowledge my debt. Deus vobiscum.
(Re-posted from my other and former blog, epikeia.wordpress.com. Apologies yet again, as I still don’t have time to write original stuff.)
I live for night, for in the day
The sun is cold. Its lights is low,
And all the hues I used to know
Are each a different shade of gray.
I work in fear that if I paused
To think or feel, then I would meet
In every street of life and greet
The cold remains of dreaming lost.
And I’ve forgone the love of song
And verse, for only sounds remain
Where once there danced in each refrain
The stars. Now every line is wrong.
For what are music, poem and prayer?
They’re each as hollow as the space
That dwells among the words we use,
And mean as much; for all is faith
That signs can hold one part of real
And bear the souls of what we mean
Beyond our lips. Deny we may,
Our words are little more than sighs.
Each, uttered once, is judged and dies.
I walk alone amid a slate
Of busy people running past
Who little think that they, at last,
Will meet the shears of brooding fate,
Who takes in every boon she gives.
I smoke to tell myself the lie
That I still breathe and still can die–
For doesn’t cancer mean I live?
I once took heart in sages’ words
And psalms that spoke of bitter days
By suffering men still seeing ways
To find their God amidst their world,
But all the words they spoke are bare
Of solace now. I see no trace
Of light in what I once perused,
And cannot share their hallowed faith.
I know of God but cannot feel
That He will hear, for what is seen
When I gaze up to Him and pray,
But stars too distant for our cries,
Unseeing clouds, and empty skies?
I still believe; and yet I doubt
If we’re Your children. Is Your joy
To see us move like wooden toys
And drop when our wind is out?
Though I surmise that You are wise,
And what You choose is all of love
And always right, You stand above
And I below. My mortal eyes
Are blind amid the paths I go,
Amid the depths from which I cry,
When all my creeds are weakened: Why?
I need, my God, to know. You know
The pain of grief, for You are where
It hurts the most. Just show Your face
To one who knew but lies confused
That life has given lie to faith.
But if we share none of Your weal
Of love unmixed, return our dreams,
Or throw to void the light of day;
For naught seems better than to die
If we’re just dust before Your eyes.
Not all is fair, but all is lost,
When nothing right is worth the cost.
Not all is good, but all is gone,
When day has left and night has won.
Not all is life, but all is dead,
As lies ensoul the truths we said.
Not all is sin, but all is guilt,
As hell enfolds the souls we killed.
Lord, I believe, still, I believe;
Help me in my unbelief.
This life of ours is all too short.
Cut it shorter, Lord, I pray;
For I won’t weep if I don’t breathe,
And someone’s life has to be brief,
I plead before Your hallowed court.
But if in wisdom, You would say,
That I remain to serve and grieve,
Help me in my unbelief.
I am too much the weaker sort
To surge, to battle, and to stay
Without reprieve. Help me believe
That stranger truths and joys so brief
Will end in Your embrace; and sort
My choices for me. I’ll obey
But hold me close, and, Lord, receive
My life and tears; and bring relief
To kin and friends with no resort
From sorrow from my selfish ways;
And make me love and share; and give
Some solace when I fall. For grief
Is gain and gift, its sorrow short,
Beside You, Lord. Through Him we pray.