Did you read the recent Nobel Prize winner’s poems in the newspaper? I read them once, scratched my head, and didn’t expend the energy to puzzle them out. I guess Shel Silverstein is the poet for me. Anyway. . . I went to a lecture recently and discovered a new-to-me poet, William Ernest Henley (British, died 1903), who is, as they say, accessible.
Before I give you the verse that reverberated with me, I’ll remind you of the first stanza from Dylan Thomas’ Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Well, that’s one way to face death, fiercely resistant and defiant. It makes me tired, though. I mean, you’re going to die, definitely, and wouldn’t it be nice to be at peace when it’s time? So here’s the stanza I liked from Henley’s “A Late Lark Twitters from the Quiet Skies.”
So be my passing!
My task accomplished and the long day done,
My wages taken and in my heart
Some late lark singing,
Let me be gathered to the quiet west,
The sundown splendid and serene,
That I like. Comforting, wise, appealing.
Now, for something completely different, though it too is about death. “I hope I go like my grandfather, quietly and peacefully. Not like all those screaming, panicked people in the car with him.”