One stanza of poetry captures the pleasure of holding another person.
Bari, this is a wonderful project. Masterful. We all need to go back to this dimension for the beautiful and the mournful. Douglas is just terrific. Thank you,
If equal affection cannot be
Let the more loving one be me.
Imagine, if, instead of the prancing pedant or bored bore who had been your teacher, Douglas Murray had taught English Lit? Douglas Murray is a gift because he elevates us. Bari because she conceived this. Gratitude to both.
This poem evokes for me, not the memory of a lover now lost, but of the indescribable joy of reading to one's young child at bedtime. Nestled close, smiling at the endless questions, the little voice, the sweet smell of their hair.....Knowing that God does exist, that love is his power and such moments as these are made all the sweeter knowing that they're fleeting, ephemeral and that the child will soon enough be gone to have moments like this of her or his own. As you carry on.
Fifty-six years ago, we lost my brother Tom in combat.
My niece wrote these two poems in eighth grade. They were the beginning of her writing career and they were for her father, Tom's brother, and his siblings, all of whom I watched grieve throughout my childhood.
My brother, my loyal brother forever guiding and strong then gone like a thief in the night leaving me forever to sob sobs from inside myself
The forewarning of an eruption sears me to the very soul I scream but to no avail I run but not far enough never far enough Till my breath is gone and my body is empty Will I ever be whole again?
The yawning gorge echoes inside me What will fill the space left by my loyal brother the lion, the king who is still running towards me, away from me. Somewhere.
Always what is remembered most is the greatest sorrow the could have been yesterdays and the could be tomorrows Whether you bear the loss of many or the loss of one this sadness may well break your heart with the day old setting sun
That happiness has come and gone the years have flown by and though you will remember him, will you remember why? Remember the carefree childhood days now a whisper in the wind Remember the loyal brother and soldier Remember your best friend
Think of that fateful March day when you did part at last brother to brother, now separated by the manmade fiery blast
The heartbreak and the tears that fell are etched forever still in your memories of those days and the blood they spilled
Hold tight those haunting memories like old photographs and remember him once more your faithful other half.
Thank you Murray
For the poetry
This column alone makes a subscription to The Free Press worthwhile (though all the other stuff is really good, too).
Last week's column prompted me to secure my own copy of Eliot's Four Quartets, which I had not read before. I saved it for a cross-country flight, and spent maybe an hour wrestling with it: reading a bit, pausing, re-reading, pausing . . .
feeling a growing tension all the while, feeling on the brink of some new kind of understanding, until I reached the final stanza of the fourth Quartet.
I had been lost for weeks in a tangle of nostalgia and regret and longing and fear and hope and despair, overshadowed by the inexorable passing of time. I feared I had wasted the best years of my career as a teacher and a writer, that I could have been so much more had I done this a little differently, or avoided that pitfall, or . . . but also knowing that any other path would not have led me just here, and to some hard-won insights into the human condition.
And then I read this:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time
. . .
Quick now, here, now, always -
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well
And all manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowning knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.
Even now, having reread the poems several times, I'm not sure I can adequately explain what those closing lines mean, or what they meant to me in that moment, but I can explain the effect they had.
With that final stanza, something broke open; something cut through the knot of nostalgia and fear and regret, bursting it apart and dispersing it, leaving in its wake something like joy, something like simple relief, like when an droning, clanging sound that had gone on too long finally stops, and the silence reverberates. Something like gratitude.
I found myself sitting in the back rows of a 737, somewhere over Nebraska, struggling to hold back tears.
I had never responded to a poem quite that way before. To be honest, had I read the poem 20 years ago, or even 5 years ago, I would not and could not have responded that way. It was precisely the right poem at precisely the right moment.
So thank you, Mr. Murray, for helping us to remember such things.
Poetry faded with the appreciation of beauty. Ugliness surrounds us, in movies, architecture, everywhere. This column is a step back from edge.
Lovely column as usual.
In a day of strident prose
and faithless incoherence
it is good to know that once arose
one who, even though
his faith once wavered,
stood steadfast in rhyme and rhythmn
giving us a taste and sense
of the absolute.
Sorry. Did not seem right to comment without some effort at poetry.
I love this, Bari. Thank you for inviting beauty as part of your newspaper.
What a perfect way to awaken on a sunny Sunday. Kudos to Bari & Douglas…
Reminded me of holding my newborn son 36 years ago. A treasured moment.
Embrace of pain
Such a joy to return
To Murray again.
Reading Murray's most beloved lines and listening to his recitation has quickly become a Sunday ritual. Poetry, coffee, and contemplation. Thank you for infusing my quiet hours with such beauty.
A perfect start for the week. Thank you Bari and Douglas.
Never much of a poetry guy but couldn't stop thinking about my daughters when i held them in my arms. Beautiful. I look forward to more. Great idea!
This seems a good time to remind folks that Douglas Murray not only brings to us beautiful poetry on Sunday mornings, but has a podcast series, Uncancelled History, about towering historical figures who’ve been unfairly maligned.