A dear friend, sending me a package of special teas, advised that a cup of tea can do wonders.
This is probably true. But for me, the real cup of tea lies in the lines of the Great Poets—all male at this time, unfortunately. It will probably take another century for women poets to be granted the training and the access that has fueled the works we now call great.
But I am very grateful for what we have.
“About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking duly along.”
This is W.H. Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts”, a poem on Pieter Bruegel’s 16th century painting Landscape with the Fall of Icarus:
“how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman
May have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.”
The obliviousness of the universe to human suffering, even down to the “torturer’s horse scratching its innocent behind” is oddly comforting. If the whole universe were darkened by our suffering—as sometimes in the dreary early morning of a rainy day, it seems to be—life could not go on. We depend on forgetting, even with its bitter edge.
Will walking away on the edge of a sunburned field at Wolf Pen Farm is one of my favorite views of him. He died, not on the farm he loved in Kentucky, but in the scrub foothills of southern Colorado.
And life, in its beautiful and inexorable way, goes on.
But there is something to be thought about here—or many things. Among my close group of seven women friends, three have lost sons to suicide.
What is it about our world that destroys our young men?