Sunday, December 17, 2006

Happy Birthday, Jane

Mother and Child by the Sea (1840) by Johan Christian Dahl
Today would have been my mother's 81st birthday. I don't want to get all maudlin because she would have wanted nothing less.

But I woke up this morning with W.H.'s "Stop All the Clocks" bouncing around in my head. (Yes, that's the poem that Matthew reads during his eulogy in "Four Weddings and a Funeral.") So herewith a wee adaptation of the opening stanzas of said poem, which is my favorite about dying and death.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message She Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

She was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

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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