Saturday, September 22, 2012

"Shattered" by Hilary J. England, 2012

I had many thoughts of the poems of Longfellow when I was creating this, in particular, "Footsteps of Angels."  
"Footsteps of Angels"  by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
When the hours of Day are numbered,
And the voices of the Night
Wake the better soul, that slumbered,
To a holy, calm delight;
Ere the evening lamps are lighted,
And, like phantoms grim and tall,
Shadows from the fitful firelight
Dance upon the parlor wall;
Then the forms of the departed
Enter at the open door;
The beloved, the true-hearted,
Come to visit me once more;
He, the young and strong, who cherished
Noble longings for the strife,
By the roadside fell and perished,
Weary with the march of life!
They, the holy ones and weakly,
Who the cross of suffering bore,
Folded their pale hands so meekly,
Spake with us on earth no more!
And with them the Being Beauteous,
Who unto my youth was given,
More than all things else to love me,
And is now a saint in heaven.
With a slow and noiseless footstep
Comes that messenger divine,
Takes the vacant chair beside me,
Lays her gentle hand in mine.
And she sits and gazes at me
With those deep and tender eyes,
Like the stars, so still and saint-like,
Looking downward from the skies.
Uttered not, yet comprehended,
Is the spirit’s voiceless prayer,
Soft rebukes, in blessings ended,
Breathing from her lips of air.
Oh, though oft depressed and lonely,
All my fears are laid aside,
If I but remember only
Such as these have lived and died!
I created this in response to the sadness of having recently attended yet another funeral for a young person (he was just 19, and he drowned during a day of innocent fun with some friends at the local river), and to the pain of having to gaze into another coffin and see the monumental loss and tragedy it is and was. The thought of these types of tragedies sometimes overwhelm me.  All that had spanned in front of him, all of the potential for beauty and truth, all of his talent, all of his love, were all gone in an instant.  
The others that went before him paraded through my mind, the suicide, the murder victim, the car accident, the drug overdose, the lingering death from cancer.  Before, they were living and vital and burning bright and now, they had been reduced to a set of circumstances...their wings clipped off in mid-flight.  I began to sway under the burden of thought of how fragile our existence is.  We can never lose control of our life, because we never have that.  We can disorder our lives with the way we live, or reorder it again, but never control it.  That is just a myth and a fantasy, a slick and very glib lie told by people who are secretly scared witless.
When I walk among their graves, I feel such a mixed emotion.  We all wind up there eventually, despite our best and vainest attempts to keep death away.  But, where are our dead friends really?  That is the mystery that propels us forward, despite of what we believe or do not believe.  The answer is in the recesses of this universe.  Inside, we know somehow some mysterious force holds the answer to that eternal question, and keeps the inhabitants of this world in never-ending turmoil as they seek it.  Some find it, and find peace, or so they claim.  Others openly proclaim they cannot.  Most of us fall somewhere between those two extremes...ever plodding away, ever searching, secretly yearning, quietly hoping, sometimes even daring to believe.   I suppose that might be the core essence of faith, the seed of it.  What grows from there depends on the type of faith, and each individual must explore that solitary road on their own.  

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