Friday, June 29, 2012

"Let There Remain Of Me Less Than A Word -- A Little Passing Look"

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?

                                     Adrian Stokes, "Olive Trees" (1958)

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).

      Frances Macdonald, "Tympanum, Abbey Porch, Malmesbury" (1941)

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).

                  Adrian Stokes, "Landscape, West Penwith Moor" (1937)


Bovey Belle said...

Now there's a thought. Some of the essential me would live on in my garden here as long as my plantings survive. Some in my name on the flyleaf of one of my many books. A big chunk of me in my children. One of my rare drawings would perhaps provoke a response. But perhaps a little bit of the real me would come across in my hastily-jotted down descriptive notes on scraps of paper which once in a while, get copied into my commonplace book . . .

Stephen Pentz said...

Very nice, Bovey Belle -- those are lovely things to leave behind. As always, I appreciate hearing your thoughts.

Bovey Belle said...

Thank you Stephen (takes a bow!)