Monday, February 28, 2011

Finding Strength in What Remains

Hi friends! Reading your blogs makes me feel like we're together sharing stories in person. I just want to say how much I appreciate being a part of this group. How many people are so lucky?

This weekend I was reading a memoir and the author referred to a poem by Wordsworth I had read in college. Everyone seems to know the couplet that William Wordsworth wrote:

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar

But the rest of the poem is even better, at least, I think so. The passage that speaks most to me is about being strong when faced with the inevitable losses life brings:

What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;

Like me, maybe some of you can hear Natalie Wood reciting the line about "splendour in the grass," in the movie of the same name about lost innocence. But the poem (and the movie) are also about "find[ing] strength in what reminds behind." Another Englishman, Thomas Carlyle, said something similar: For everything we've lost we've gained something else.

If you have time to read the entire poem, I've given the link below. But for now, here are a few more lines where Wordsworth opens his heart to both joy and loss. (I love that he's speaking to the animals :-)

Ye blessed Creatures, I have heard the call
Ye to each other make; I see
The heavens laugh with you in your jubilee;
My heart is at your festival,
My head hath its coronal,
The fulness of your bliss, I feel--I feel it all.
Oh evil day! if I were sullen
While Earth herself is adorning,
This sweet May-morning,
And the Children are culling
On every side,
In a thousand valleys far and wide,
Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm,
And the Babe leaps up on his Mother's arm:--
I hear, I hear, with joy I hear!
--But there's a Tree, of many, one,
A single Field which I have looked upon,
Both of them speak of something that is gone:
The Pansy at my feet
Doth the same tale repeat:
Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?

My answer is, It's still there. It's all still there. Just behind a cloud or a mountain, tucked away until we make our way a little further. And until then, we will find strength in what remains.

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