Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"It is the living who cannot" - Hilda Morley

Here's another poem suggestion from the comment stream:

Hilda Morley
"It is the living who cannot"

It is the living who cannot
live without the dead,
                                 who wish them
         who need their presences,
their hands,
                  as Orpheus
held her hand, Eurydice’s,
to lead her
back to earth out of
the gulf of Hades,
                           as I
need yours
                  It is not so much
the dead
               who need us
        (as we think they do)
                                          & that reconciliation
we long for, that knowledge
of each other to the uttermost,
which could assuage us,
                                     they are
one step beyond it & suffer us
to long for them.
                          If they could
return, it would be out of
patience with us merely: their need to
console us. For somehow an indifference
possesses them, for all their tenderness
& they see beyond us,
                                   even if
what they see seems to us


At 11/10/2010 11:23 AM, Blogger Kent Johnson said...

YOu know, John, back when I was blogging for the now-defunct Digital Emunction blog with people like Michael Robbins, Ange Mlinko, Oren Izenberg, Michael Hansen, and the Chicago Review squad, I wrote the following post under the title "Who Is the Most Unjustly and Bizarrely Forgotten American Poet of the Twentieth Century?"

The post, in full, read as follows:

"Hilda Morley."

There were nearly 200 comments to those fifteen words. But now I don't think you can read the comments.

At 11/10/2010 11:27 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Where I think she goes wrong, here, and it's a minor thing, but nonetheless:

"they are
one step beyond it & suffer us
to long for them"

I don't believe the dead suffer us in any way. Other than that, there's an elegance to her line that I'm quite jealous of.


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