But then an event such as the one that was the subject of the previous post occurs. Or, as happened to me earlier this year, someone vanishes from your life for ever (a wake-up call from half a world away at 2:15 in the morning bringing news of death). At these times "the infinite significance" of which Kavanagh speaks hits home -- at last, at long last. And, suddenly, there you have it: the fragility and the evanescence of all we are and all we hold dear.
So, to quote again (please forgive me) from my previous post, this time from Philip Larkin:
. . . we should be careful
Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.
Thomas Train (1890-1978), "Headlights"
When I looked back,
The man who passed
Was lost in the mist.
Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902) (translated by R. H. Blyth), in R. H. Blyth, Haiku, Volume II: Spring (Hokuseido 1950), page 85.
Entered a house
On the withered moor.
Masaoka Shiki (translated by R. H. Blyth), in R. H. Blyth, Haiku, Volume IV: Autumn-Winter (Hokuseido 1952), page 283.
Trevor Makinson, "Maryhill Goods Yard"
For all the evil that we witness as human beings, a deeper current runs always, invisible. Thus, worlds and centuries apart, Robert Herrick and Masaoka Shiki saw, and felt, the same thing.
Once Seen, and No More
Thousands each day pass by, which we,
Once past and gone, no more shall see.
Robert Herrick, Hesperides (1648).
William MacLeod, "London Wall and St. Giles Cripplegate" (1941)
And now, from Japan and Devon, to Cumbria in the twentieth century.
'I'm having five minutes,' he said,
Fitting the shelter of the cobble wall
Over his shoulders like a cape. His head
Was wrapped in a cap as green
As the lichened stone he sat on. The winter wind
Whined in the ashes like a saw,
And thorn and briar shook their red
Badges of hip and haw;
The fields were white with smoke of blowing lime;
Rusty iron brackets of sorel stood
In grass grey as the whiskers round an old dog's nose.
'Just five minutes,' he said;
And the next day I heard that he was dead,
Having five minutes to the end of time.
Norman Nicholson, The Pot Geranium (1954).
Norman Clark (1913-1992), "Flying Kites by a Gas Works near Bexhill"