January 19, 2011

Your Singing Continues

As swiftly as the world is changing,
like racing clouds,
all that is finished
falls home to the ancient source.

Above the change and the loss,
farther and freer,
your singing continues,
god of the lyre.

How can we embrace our sorrows
or learn how to love,
or see what we lose

when we die? Only your song
over the earth
honors our life and makes it holy.

Sonnets to Orpheus I, 19


  1. It helps and touches me this morning to attach these lines to a story in the life of Mark Twain I just read in Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac. Twain's beloved daughter Susy had died, and he wrote a letter to his dearest friend about how he alone, Rev. Twichell, could comfort him in his excruciating grief. "I do not want most people to write [to me], but I do want you to do it. The others break my heart, but you will not. You have a something divine in you that is not in other men. You have the touch that heals, not lacerates. . . " . . . and on he goes in that vein, expressing to his friend how his words alone heal, almost as if he is a god, like Orpheus, who can sing above the change and the loss. It moves me that for Twain there was a real, mortal soul who understood him and his grief like no other, whose song alone seemed able to honor [his Susy's] life and make it holy. It makes me want to be Orphic, in this sense, when someone I love is grieving.

  2. Oh how I love this posting today! First, the wonderful Rodin scupture of the aged woman. Next, the wonderful imagery of our lives moving swiftly till all is finished and "all . . . falls home to the ancient source." And then there is that last line, which resonates so deeply with me: "Only your song over the earth honors our life and makes it holy." Stunningly beautiful, indescribably meaningful!

  3. The image of the Rodin sculpture is so moving, and another of your pairings with poetry that informs the writing and vice versa.

    We really can't keep up with what goes on in this world, and even as new things are always starting up, others are falling away. Still, the singing continues because of the constant renewal of the cycle. And we hear it, our hearts made "freer", when we recognize its source, which "honors our life and makes it holy" because we are made in His image.

  4. this is a unique translation and like george i am drawn to the song honouring our life (should it be "your")? and making it holy. oh my. steven

  5. Another gem. I love:
    "above the change and the loss
    farther and freer,
    your singing continues,
    god of the lyre."

  6. What I like about this as well is that "our song" seems all encompassing. Whatever it is we each call "God". I'm not so sure I can say I like the look of the old woman's body, but it certainly is a reality. (just one I'm not ready for yet!) We certainly don't make ourselves holy, that's for sure. Yes, a very nice post today.


"Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night."

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Go ahead, bloom recklessly!