In Memoriam

 

Dirge without Music by Edna St. Vincent Millay

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 & keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have 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.

Whether or not our loved ones died in active service, we memorialize them with lilies and laurel and roses, but we do not bury the loving memories. On this day, we as a nation remember those who gave their lives in military battle. Every war calls on journalists, authors, pundits and poets to make sense of some portion of it. In order to further my understanding, I recently saw the movie Eye in the Sky, with Helen Mirren. It is a disturbing yet enlightening story of drone warfare. Is there a way toward peace in the world?

Despite the terrible reality of war and despite the certainty of death for all of us, I can only suggest how to rise above it–with love. One by one the light in the eyes of loved ones glimmers in my own. Someday the light in my eyes will dim and others’ eyes will gleam. Against absolute darkness, love and light shine most brightly of all. And though we are seldom resigned to death, we can still smell the fragrant roses.

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12 comments

  1. Susan · May 30, 2016

    Thank you for this. I am equally moved by the poem and by your heart-filled thoughts.

  2. mtrichel@aol.com · May 30, 2016

    Well done, Kathleen. Thanks. M

  3. eyshethayil · May 30, 2016

    Very well put, Kathleen. A very good post for Memorial Day and pretty much any day. Irene

    On Mon, 30 May 2016 12:54:33 +0000 KaleidoscopE

  4. betwil62 · May 30, 2016

    I like this very much. Beth

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  5. Carolyn Ross · May 30, 2016

    A beautiful and memorable message for Memorial Day, for memories of all our loved ones who have gone before and whose light in their eyes still gimmers in mine. You can always be counted on to find “the words.” But, like Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave. I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.”
    Carolyn Miracle Ross
    Houston

    • Kathleen · May 30, 2016

      Thank you, Carolyn. Your words add breadth to mine.

  6. Nan · June 2, 2016

    Thank you for this post, Kathleen. It brings back the scent of roses…

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