My beloved husband, Kent, died in January 2012, 3 years after diagnosis of a brain tumour. Our son was 2 1/2 and our daughter 3 months old. He and I were far too young. I am now hurtling through the black space of life without him.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Some Heart Did Break

Never Morning Wore to Evening but Some Heart Did Break - Walter Langley

Here it is. My grief.

I saw this picture recently (thanks to a friend who used it on her blog) and it paralysed me. All the heartache and pain that I have is there, and I know the taste of her tears. I couldn't drag my eyes away from it, or stop the tears from flowing, and in fact I now have a copy of it to hang on my wall, because this is where I am right now.

I could say that I don't need to keep writing, as everything is in that picture. But you know I like words too. I followed my friend's link and learned that this picture is titled after a line in the poem In Memoriam A.H.H. by Alfred Tennyson, and that the woman has lost her fisherman at sea.

The poem is famous, unbelievably long (133 "cantos" with 3-6 stanzas in each), is written for Tennyson's  friend (AHH) who died aged 23, and includes the lines that you will all know "'Tis better to have loved and lost, Than never to have loved at all."

I spent some time looking through this poem, and have pulled out some of the stanzas that meant something to me. It feels a bit naughty, like quoting bible passages and missing some bits out, but as I say, these are just the bits that rang true in my heart. These first three stanzas, most appropriately, comment on the concept of trying to put grief in to words.

I sometimes hold it half a sin
    To put in words the grief I feel;
    For words, like Nature, half reveal
    And half conceal the Soul within.

    But, for the unquiet heart and brain,
    A use in measured language lies;
    The sad mechanic exercise,
    Like dull narcotics, numbing pain.
    In words, like weeds, I'll wrap me o'er,
    Like coarsest clothes against the cold:
    But that large grief which these enfold
    Is given in outline and no more.


That loss is common would not make
    My own less bitter, rather more:
    Too common! Never morning wore
    To evening, but some heart did break


Dark house, by which once more I stand
    Here in the long unlovely street,
    Doors, where my heart was used to beat
    So quickly, waiting for a hand,
    A hand that can be clasp'd no more—
    Behold me, for I cannot sleep,
    And like a guilty thing I creep
    At earliest morning to the door.
    He is not here; but far away
    The noise of life begins again,
    And ghastly thro' the drizzling rain
    On the bald street breaks the blank day.


Tears of the widower, when he sees
    A late-lost form that sleep reveals,
    And moves his doubtful arms, and feels
    Her place is empty, fall like these;
    Which weep a loss for ever new,
    A void where heart on heart reposed;
    And, where warm hands have prest and closed,
    Silence, till I be silent too.
    Which weep the comrade of my choice,
    An awful thought, a life removed,
    The human-hearted man I loved,
    A Spirit, not a breathing voice.

Never Morning Wore to Evening but Some Heart Did Break - Walter Langley

 Thank you, all of you, for being that old woman to me.