Friday, September 26, 2008

Poetry Friday

Several articles on my mind of late, having to do with losing a child.

This exquisite poem touches on what it is to grieve (Wordsworth wrote it after losing a very young child), what a long, slow process it is, full of surprising turns that can induce guilt (and ultimately, of course, healing), but only after a long, exhausting slog.

Surprised by Joy
by William Wordsworth

Surprised by joy--impatient as the Wind
I turned to share the transport--Oh! with whom
But Thee, deep buried in the silent tomb,
That spot which no vicissitude can find?
Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind--
But how could I forget thee? Through what power,
Even for the least division of an hour,
Have I been so beguiled as to be blind
To my most grievous loss?--That thought's return
Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore,
Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn,
Knowing my heart's best treasure was no more;
That neither present time, nor years unborn
Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.

Tricia, at The Miss Rumphius Effect, is hosting the Poetry Friday round-up today.


  1. Such a beautiful, awful sonnet.

  2. It had been awhile since I last read this poem. Still has great impact.

  3. Thank you for posting this poem, Karen. I am a frequent reader of your blog. I lost my fourth child, a full-term stillborn boy in Jan of 2007. Reading this poem...I am just in awe of Wordsworth's ability to capture so much of what I feel. It is agonizing to read it, but that is OK.


  4. Thanks, Kelly and Jama.

    Amy, my deep, deep sympathy to you. I'm so sorry. Have you ever read C.S. Lewis's "A Grief Observed"? It's a beautiful, helpful, cathartic book that I've returned to many times over the years.

    "No one ever told me that grief feels so much like fear," Lewis wrote. "I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing."

    Again, I'm so sorry about your son's death. There is no grief like losing a child.

  5. Karen, I find it interesting that we both were reading different poems about the same sad topic at the same time. I found Charles Lamb's "On an Infant Dying as Soon as Born"

    Prayers for you, Amy. I am SO sorry.

  6. I had just read this again recently -- remembering that CS Lewis' book Surprised by Joy was also about his wife, Joy, and how wise he was to know that he would have her for only a short while. Wordsworth captures the feeling of reaching blindly for someone and not having them there - poignantly.