Dirge without music and other thoughts

A friend drew my attention to the following poem this morning — indirectly as he didn’t know I was listening. It is among my favorites by this particular poet, and expresses much of what I have been feeling this past weekend and even today:

Dirge Without Music

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,—
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

— Edna St. Vincent Millay

The tragedy in Newtown is not new. It is one of many gun-related tragedies involving children in our nation. Violence, and in particular violence involving guns, is so pervasive in our society it is too easy to overlook the “smaller” tragedies that occur every day. It is beyond weird and more than a little effed up that we notice when violence does not occur for a stretch of time (as recently noted in New York City) rather than total up and mourn the daily occurrences.

I believe a child shot and killed in an inner-city neighborhood has been robbed of his or her potential every bit as much as those dear souls in Newtown were. Further, that inner-city child is equally robbed of what he or she could be by the shooting death of a father, or brother, or uncle, or any friend or family member. Adverse childhood experiences, prevalent in impoverished inner-city neighborhoods all over the country and too, too often gun-related, prohibit learning. I want us as a nation to be up in arms as much over that lost potential as we are over this latest tragedy.

Stricter gun control. Better and affordable mental health care for everyone. It is a matter of life and death. For all of us.

I do not approve. And I am not resigned.


About pattiblaine

Raised under the name of Snyder in the upstate NY town of Vestal, I've worked as a typesetter, a fast food salad bar tender, an art reviewer, a waitress, a part-time nanny, and a very-bad-with-phones temp. Once upon a time I was all-but-thesis toward a Masters in Art History. Now I'm just a mom with a lot of fiber squirreled away throughout the house. We call it insulation. In 2013 I completed a life-long learning program at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, and am a postulant toward the diaconate in the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, NY. In addition to coordinating volunteers for the soup kitchen, I volunteer as a tutor at a deeply impoverished city elementary school, and am a docent at the Memorial Art Gallery.
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