Thursday, October 05, 2017

Poetry Friday: 'Tis Loneliness That Loves Me Best

A friend is keeping a bedside vigil for her husband, who is in hospice care, and I have been reflecting on the truth that whenever we love, we lose.  Here are some words on this subject from wiser writers.

by Willa Cather

Where are the loves that we have loved before
When once we are alone, and shut the door?
No matter whose the arms that held me fast,
The arms of Darkness hold me at the last.
No matter down what primrose path I tend,
I kiss the lips of Silence in the end.
No matter on what heart I found delight,
I come again unto the breast of Night.
No matter when or how love did befall,
’Tis Loneliness that loves me best of all,
And in the end she claims me, and I know
That she will stay, though all the rest may go.
No matter whose the eyes that I would keep
Near in the dark, ’tis in the eyes of Sleep
That I must look and look forever more,
When once I am alone, and shut the door.

Henri Nouwen wrote: "Do not hesitate to love and to love deeply. You might be afraid of the pain that deep love can cause. When those you love deeply reject you, leave you, or die, your heart will be broken. But that should not hold you back from loving deeply. The pain that comes from deep love makes your love even more fruitful. It is like a plow that breaks the ground to allow the seed to take root and grow into a stronger plant.

Every time you experience the pain of rejection, absence, or death, you are faced with a choice. You can become bitter and decide not to love again, or you can stand straight in your pain and let the soil on which you stand become richer and more able to give life to new seeds."

To summarize, it hurts to lose love, but we will; it's worth it to love anyway.  


Kay said...

What beautiful, wise words to share. I hope your friend finds peace and chooses to love still through her vigil. We are experiencing a different kind of heartbreak in our house this week, but I also came across Nouwen's words and the struck home.

Linda B said...

I'm sorry that your friend is going through such heartache, sending my good wishes for her at this time. I am grateful for the loving years with my husband, wouldn't give up any part. Thanks for the beautiful words, Ruth.

author amok said...

Thanks for this, Ruth. Your post reminds me of the art of kintsugi -- mending broken pottery with a gold lacquer. What strikes me in the poem is loneliness (or aloneness?) as our ultimate companion.

tanita✿davis said...

Ooh, Willa Cather just has the most unexpected way of putting things. This is lovely, thank you for sharing, and for sharing your vigil with your friend.

Violet N. said...

Hi Ruth, so sorry that your friend is in a hard place. I can imagine what a friend and support you are to her.

These words of Henri Nouwen will stay with me: "The pain that comes from deep love makes your love even more fruitful. It is like a plow that breaks the ground to allow the seed to take root and grow into a stronger plant."

Unfortunately, plowing hurts.

Molly Hogan said...

My thoughts are with your friend. Thank you for sharing Willa Cather and Henri Nouwen's words. They are powerful indeed.

Mary Lee said...

Such truth, both in the poem and in your words. Great reminder not to hold back. Reminds me of Tanita's Thursday Thought this week -- if we're all going to die in the end anyway, then we might as well burn our light/live as large/love as deeply as possible. Same outcome if we live a small life, so LIVE LARGE!!

Linda Mitchell said...

I just finished Cather's My Antonia. The last time I read it was in high school. And, even though it's been several days, my head is still in her words there. The entire book is memory and the beauty of loving what has passed. This poem is such a perfect pairing to my experience with the book and by Cather too. Wow. What an excellent post. I'm so sorry your friend is in pain right now. Prayers for her as she navigates this room where the door will shut. She is fortunate to have you as her friend. Much love to you and her.

Tara said...

A wise, wise poem. How we deal with sorrow says so much about who we choose to be.

Christie Wyman said...

Nouwen always offers sound advice and guidance, thought challenging to hear at times. Wishing you, your friend, and her husband peace.

Tabatha said...

Wonderful pairing, Ruth. Thank you.

michelle kogan said...

Thanks for sharing this sober poem by Will Cather, and the thoughts of Henri Nouwen. "Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." I'd side with Alfred Lord Tennyson. Hope your friend finds some solace in your poems.

Irene Latham said...

Thinking of you and of of your friend during this difficult time... what a gift to witness someone's passing, to share in that experience, however heartbreaking. We are NOT alone, not really... we carry with us all the ones we have ever loved or who have loved us. Thank you, Ruth. xo