Part of the Problem that the Events of Easter Address

Now, after the stunning news of my brother’s sudden death and the planned trip to Boston/Cambridge and the completely unplanned trip to Southern California and the intense mourning and the funeral, it’s back (more or less) to mundane daily routine — in some ways, at least for the first little while, the most difficult period of all.

But this is Easter week, a time when death, hereafter, and resurrection are very naturally on a believing Christian’s mind.

I had planned, anyway, even before my brother died, to devote several posts over the next few days to Easter and Holy Week, and I see no reason to deviate from that intention.

Here’s a melancholy little poem by Theodore Roethke that I first encountered in, of all places, one of the tests I took for college admission (either the ACT or the SAT; I don’t recall which).  It moved me so much that I went home and tracked it down, and have remembered it ever since.  It’s entitled “Elegy for Jane (My student, thrown by a horse)”:

I remember the neckcurls, limp and damp as tendrils;
And her quick look, a sidelong pickerel smile;
And how, once startled into talk, the light syllables leaped for her,
And she balanced in the delight of her thought,

A wren, happy, tail into the wind,
Her song trembling the twigs and small branches.
The shade sang with her;
The leaves, their whispers turned to kissing,
And the mould sang in the bleached valleys under the rose.

Oh, when she was sad, she cast herself down into such a pure depth,
Even a father could not find her:
Scraping her cheek against straw,
Stirring the clearest water.

My sparrow, you are not here,
Waiting like a fern, making a spiney shadow.
The sides of wet stones cannot console me,
Nor the moss, wound with the last light.

If only I could nudge you from this sleep,
My maimed darling, my skittery pigeon.
Over this damp grave I speak the words of my love:
I, with no rights in this matter,
Neither father nor lover.

Thinking of some of my more clever anonymous critics
New Testament 192
"Montana Trio Applies for Wedding License"
Three from Dr. Hamblin