Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Is it for fear to wet a widow’s eye,
That thou consumest thyself in single life?
Ah! if thou issueless shalt hap to die,
The world will wail thee, like a makeless wife;
The world will be thy widow and still weep
That thou no form of thee hast left behind,
When every private widow well may keep
By children’s eyes her husband’s shape in mind.
Look, what an unthrift in the world doth spend
Shifts but his place, for still the world enjoys it;
But beauty’s waste hath in the world an end,
And kept unused, the user so destroys it.
No love toward others in that bosom sits
That on himself such murderous shame commits.
This poem is another of Shakespeare’s “fair youth” sonnets. Basically, Shakespeare is asking the youth if the reason he fears marriage and children is because he is afraid of causing his wife pain should he die. I suspect that this is a legitimate concern for some, but I think it is just a lame excuse for many. Commitment, especially marriage and having children, is scary, especially for a young person. To say that you do not want to marry because your wife might suffer if you die is no reason to deprive yourself or another of the happiness of marriage.
When my wife and I began discussing having kids, I was unsure. I did not view the world as a great place and had genuine concerns about bringing kids into a world that seems to be crumbling before my eyes. But now, I am so grateful for my children. They are a blessing and my glimmer of light and hope. I could not imagine a life without them.
Fear should never prevent you from doing what you know in your heart to be right. Whenever we are confronted with fear, we should counter it with faith and courage, and place our trust in the fact that we are doing what is best.
Photo from Poetry Foundation
I recently downloaded an app for my iPad from the Poetry Foundation that spins subjects and then displays poems that match the subject criteria. I gave it a whirl today and it generated a list of poems dealing with Gratitude & Commitment. The first poem on the list was “Drycleaners” by Dave Smith, so I gave it a read (click here to read the poem online).
For me personally, I wasn’t crazy about this poem. I think that it was because I could not get a sense of the rhythm or cadence. To me, it seemed more like a narrative slice-of-life. When I read a poem, I am specifically looking for a musical feel, and I just didn’t get that from this piece.
What I did like about the poem was the imagery and the emotion that was expressed. I have often felt the impatience described in the beginning of standing in line behind someone who is talking, rambling on and on about what appears to me to be senseless babble. But as the poem continues, it takes on an almost voyeuristic feel, where one is surreptitiously listening in and getting a brief glimpse into a stranger’s life. This brief glimpse is what stirs the feeling of gratitude within the person, as he begins to empathize with the woman sharing her story with a stranger at the counter. Often, when we shed our self-centered absorption, we have that moment when we can connect with another person and feel compassion for what another is going through. I think this poem captures that moment very well.
Poetry, like all art, is highly subjective. Just because the style in which it was composed was not my preference, that should not prevent you from reading it. I encourage you to read the poem and see whether you connect with it. Feel free to share your thoughts. Cheers!!