In his "Whisper of a Thin Ghost" (which appeared in my previous post), A. S. J. Tessimond warns us against living life in a "Coat of Caution" and of heeding the advice of "the books of the Careful-Wise." Easier said than done, of course. Nonetheless, I can see what Tessimond is getting at. The following poem provides, I think, a good companion-piece to "Whisper of a Thin Ghost," for it considers the cost of what-might-have-been.
The Unwept Waste
Let funeral marches play,
Let heartbreak-music sound
For the half-death, not the whole;
For the unperceived slow soiling;
For the sleeping before evening;
For what, but for a breath,
But for an inch one way,
The shifting of a scene,
A closed or opened door,
A word less, a word more,
Might have, so simply, been.
The final tragedies are,
Not the bright light dashed out,
Not the gold glory smashed
Like a lamp upon the floor,
But the guttering away,
The seep, the gradual grey,
The unnoticed, without-haste-
Unwept, unwritten waste.
A. S. J. Tessimond, Voices in a Giant City (1947).
"Woodburner with Pink, Violet, and Red Flowers in a Vase"
I suppose that the "message" of this poem might be: carpe diem! However, I'm not sure if it is that simple. I detect a sense that these "half-deaths," these things missed by "a word less, a word more," might not have been salvageable by attempting to seize the day. It may be that ending up with a certain amount of "unwept waste" is part of what it means to be human. But perhaps I am being too pessimistic. Then again . . .