July 16, 2011

Who Shows a Child

Songe d'un amoureux, by Marc Chagall

Who shows a child his true world?
Who sets him among the stars, and places
in his hand the true measure of space?
Death can do this, the hugeness of death,
even before life has begun—
to hold it gently and feel no resentment,
that is enough.

From the Fourth Duino Elegy


  1. For adult and child alike, to experience the death of a loved one is profoundly sad. It can however can bestow the gift of awareness that life does not go on forever. Each moment is sacred to be spent/used wisely. The pain of separation of death can blind us to this insight leaving only sadness and resentment.
    But oh how special it would be to have this insight when still a child. Blessed with such enlightenment the door would open to the possibility of a life well lived.

  2. death and life bracket each moment and not as good and bad defines a choice but as two faces of a moebius strip are entirely connected and made of the same material. i arrive. i become. i depart.
    "hold it gently" steven

  3. this is so beautiful but sad. was this in response to losing a child?

  4. I can read the line "even before life has begun" narrowly and find in it loss and the questioning that attends loss. I'm also tempted to interpret it expansively: that our place on this earth is temporary and not our "true world" or "true measure of space". Death, after all, is what we move toward, and to accept that notion "is enough" to dispel the questioning that comes with it.

  5. children know death differently than we know it. rilke gets that here, to hold it gently and feel no resentment. they watch for our cues and we change them with our fear. when my father died i was sad but it was a fact, a day, a hurdle i made my way over and then my belly was hungry, i was tired, i was bored. my god, i was happy. it wasn't until later that his death become something else, when i was a teen, when i was an adult.

    when my own children's grandfather died i sat them on a couch and tried to tell them in a way that would not change them. tried to tell them, ok, this is now, but before - what a man! what times we had! and now is now, let's be.

    but fear is like a baffle to our acceptance.



"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!