What use is poetry anyway?


This started when a friend and I were discussing how we are coping with knowing one of our mutual friends of many years has cancer and will probably not live for much longer. Her daughter contributed the ‘5 stages of grief’. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. My friend said she is still sitting in the anger stage, and into my head popped

Do not go gentle into that good night
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Thank you Dylan Thomas. I know there are several interpretations of this, often being positive; but today I felt it was part of the denial and anger stages of grief. Anger that loss (sight or life) could occur, denial that it has to be, demanding more life and not just acceptance of what is happening. Ah – how much better he could express feelings than I do.

When I got home the conversation was still swirling around in my head. How we deal with loss and grief, and then suddenly there I was with tears trickling down my cheeks as I remembered the funeral from Four Weddings and a Funeral. How I’d literally sobbed when this was read, how exactly it felt to have someone loved taken away from you. The dreadful empty space that should be them.

W.H Auden. Just the end of his famous Funeral Blues

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

 

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7 thoughts on “What use is poetry anyway?

  1. There are so many aspects to this. At least, with terminal cancer, there is some time to adjust. Things like fatal motor accidents or home invasion murders don’t give this … the question of which is worst isn’t easy to answer.
    As with our experience in the past few years of a cousin diagnosed as having a fatal illness, where her sibling and another cousin, who had been desperately sympathising with her, actually pre-deceased her after more sudden illnesses. It gives John Donne’s ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ a more literal meaning.

    1. I believe the stages (not in a secific sequence as one doubles back or leaps ahead) are still experienced, while antcipating the loss or being faced with it suddenly.

  2. Bury me in the colour of my passion
    So I may live well in death……….no use at all is poetry, if it has no bones, no flesh nor emotion

    Am sorry to hear of your friend. Truly.

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