"Wading neck deep in a swamp, your revolver is neither use nor ornament until you have had time to clean it" Mary H. Kingsley (1897)

The Lament Of Loss

The two chairs still sit together on their verandah:
his and hers;
the grandparents I never met.

Following a decade of health problems, all had assumed that he would be the first to go.
But it was my grandmother who quietly surrendered:
the unexpected loss of a son, too much to bear.

Life’s meaning was lost.
My grandfather turned his face to the wall.
In a matter of days he followed her.


Dido’s Lament

“Thy hand, Belinda, darkness shades me,
On thy bosom let me rest,
More I would, but Death invades me;
Death is now a welcome guest.

When I am laid, am laid in earth, May my wrongs create
No trouble, no trouble in thy breast;
Remember me, remember me, but ah! forget my fate.
Remember me, but ah! forget my fate.”

From Dido and Aeneas
Music: Henry Purcell

Libretto: Nahum Tate

Picture of the verandah in our family’s home, which my grandfather built, and where my father lived as a child and young man.

12 responses

  1. Ed

    great tune

    February 20, 2012 at 9:05 am

    • A veritable classic!

      This is also a superb performance, Ed, but I wasn’t allowed to embed it.

      February 20, 2012 at 9:26 am

  2. Beautiful words, and sad.

    February 20, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    • Grief and loss comes in so many forms, but to lose a child must be every parent’s worst fear. Once they are adult, I think it might be even worse…

      February 20, 2012 at 6:05 pm

  3. Nothing quite says it like those two empty chairs.

    February 20, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    • Perhaps we can convey emptiness or absence much more easily in pictures than in words..

      February 20, 2012 at 7:14 pm

  4. What an enormous loss for the remaining family members.

    February 20, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    • “When sorrows come, they come not single spies
      But in battalions….”

      February 20, 2012 at 8:22 pm

  5. Toffeeapple

    So very sad.

    February 20, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    • I think it’s impossible for families escape times of loss and tragedy, and many suffer very much worse..

      February 21, 2012 at 7:20 am

  6. i came over from Glynn’s — what a lovely tribute — and I love the chairs…

    I never knew my father’s parents — his mother died when he was fourteen, his dad when he was in college — my mother’s parents were both dead by the time I was ten….I know I missed out on something —

    Nice poem — love what you put together here….

    February 25, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    • Thank you, Harriet.

      Like you, I met neither sets of my grandparents – but I cannot claim to be really aware of their absence either..

      February 25, 2012 at 7:10 pm

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