I have been looking recently at some old photos of my children, and feeling nostalgic over the sweet babies they were. It's probably a common feeling this time of year, as we look at photos of first Christmases and take out ornaments which have survived, somehow, from those years. How easy life seems back then, back when I could meet their every need, when I always knew where they were, when they wore whatever I put on them.
Of course, I'm conveniently forgetting the inexplicable crying of a pre-verbal child who couldn't tell you where it hurt, the sleepless nights, the days of limited interaction with another adult.
Nostalgia is that way, and Billy Collins has written several poems about it. One is entitled "Nostalgia," but the one I was thinking of this week is the one excerpted below:
Lines Composed Over Three Thousand Miles from Tintern Abbey
I was here before, a long time ago,
and now I am here again
is an observation that occurs in poetry
as frequently as rain occurs in life.
...the feeling is always the same.
It was better the first time.
This time is not nearly as good,
I'm not feeling as chipper as I did back then.
Something is always missing -
swans, a glint on the surface of a lake,
some minor but essential touch.
Or the quality of things has diminished.
And when we put down the book at last,
lean back, close our eyes,
stinging with print,
and slip in the bookmark of sleep,
we will be schooled enough to know
that when we wake up
a little before dinner
things will not be nearly as good as they once were.
Nothing will be as it was
a few hours ago, back in the glorious past
before our naps, back in that Golden Age
that drew to a close sometime shortly after lunch.
You can read the whole poem here.
The Poetry Friday roundup is at Random Noodling today.
1 hour ago