Pharyngula

The best is lost

A reader responded to my article where I said I found no solace in lies by sending me a poem by Edna St Vincent Millay. This could be part of the godless liturgy for coping with funerals; it’s so true to the spirit of our thinking, and so antagonistic to Christian attitudes. So I’ll share it with you, too.

Dirge without music

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 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 and 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.

Beautiful words somehow bring a little comfort to us, I agree, but better still are beautiful words that also ring true.