In a recent post I suggested that we might wish to consider what our epitaph will be. Another way of looking at this sort of thing may be: what trace, if any, will our soul leave behind?
Before proceeding further, I should make clear that I am not using the term "soul" in any religious or sectarian sense. Heaven, Hell, Paradise, Nirvana, et cetera, et cetera are of no moment to me.
But I do believe that we each have a soul. Call it, say, an animating spirit -- indefinable, ineffable, untouchable . . . flitting and transient. "Animula vagula blandula." What trace will this fluttering, fleeting thing leave behind?
Mary Coleridge considers this subject in the following untitled poem.
Some in a child would live, some in a book;
When I am dead let there remain of me
Less than a word -- a little passing look,
Some sign the soul had once, ere she forsook
The form of life to live eternally.
Theresa Whistler (editor), The Collected Poems of Mary Coleridge (1954).
Coleridge's poem brings to mind the following untitled poem by William Allingham. The poem is not necessarily about souls, but I think that it nicely complements Coleridge's "less than a word -- a little passing look" and "some sign the soul had once."
Everything passes and vanishes;
Everything leaves its trace;
And often you see in a footstep
What you could not see in a face.
William Allingham, Evil May-Day (1883).