How suffering takes place

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….

–Joy

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49 Responses to “How suffering takes place”

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