A very good friend died yesterday, and I have been feeling sad and thinking about the sadness her family is feeling.
Recently, when I heard Natasha Trethewey, this country’s poet laureate, read a poem by W.H. Auden on National Public Radio, I knew exactly what Auden was writing about. I listened and remembered clearly one day when my mother was very ill. I drove my son to church. The sun was shining, and everyone else was smiling. But I was in my own sad world.
In his poem “Musee des Beaux Arts,” W. H. Auden wrote:
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 dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did no specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood….