Jesse Andrews: It made me so angry that she was just going to be lost

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So like an idiot, I hadn't understood until I was sitting there actually watching her physically die, when it was too late to say or do anything. I couldn't believe it had taken me so long to understand it even a little bit. This was a human being, dying. This was the only time there going to be someone with those eyes and those ears....this was the only time there was ever going to be that person, living in the world, and now that was almost over, and I couldn't deal with it.

I was thinking, also, that we had made a film about a thing, death, that we knew nothing about....

...I was realizing how to make the movie I should have made, that it had to be something that stored as much of Rachel as possible, that ideally we would have had a camera on her for her whole life, and one inside her head, and it made me so bitter and fucking angry that this was impossible, and she was just going to be lost. Just as if she had never been around to say things and laugh at people and have favorite words she like to use....All of it and everything else she had ever thought was just going to be lost.

    –Gregory Gaines in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews


Agius/ Waddell: Thou hast come safe to port, I still at sea

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Thou hast come safe to port,
I still at sea,
The light is on thy head,
darkness in me.

Pluck thou in heaven's field
violet and rose,
while I strew flowers that will thy vigil keep
where thou dost sleep,
love, in thy last repose.

--Translation by Helen Waddell (1889-1965) of a lament for Hathimoda (840-874), Abbess of Gandesheim. The Latin original is in a manuscript called Vita et obitus Hathumodae primae abbatissae Gandersheimensis, composed by a monk and poet called Agius. It is considered one of the most beautiful and simple lives of the Dark Ages. The translation is a loose one.

Te iam portus habet; nos adhuc iactat abyssus.
Te lux vera tenet; nos tenebrae retinent.
Te cum virginibus comitans, quocumque it, agnum,
lilia cum violis colligis atque rosis;
nos cum coancillis nostris tumulo ecce tuopte
flores spargentes, ducimus excubias.


She died, like a sweet dream when the sleeper is sad that it has gone

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She died, like the ruddy clouds in the east at the break of day, which are envied by the sun for their beauty as it rises in its glory to darken them.

She died, like a glimpse of sunlight when the shadow races in pursuit; she died, like a rainbow when the shower has fallen and its glory is past.

She died, like snow which lies on the shore by the sea, when the pitiless tide flows over it-- oh whiteness! and it did not enjoy it for long.

She died, like the voice of the harp when it is sweetest and most solemn; she died, like a lovely tale when the telling has barely begun.

She died, like the gleam of the moon when the sailor is afraid in the dark; she died, like a sweet dream when the sleeper is sad that it has gone.

She died, at the beginning of her beauty; Heaven could not dispense with her; she died, oh Màiri died, like the sun quenched at its rising.

  --Evan Maccoll (1808-1898), from A Celtic Miscellany: Translations From the Celtic Literatures (1951), ed. [and translated by] Kenneth Hurlstone Jackson (1909-1991)

 If you have the original Gaelic, could you please send it in?

 


Riley: He is not dead. He is just away

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I cannot say, and will not say
that he is dead. He is just away.

With a cheery smile, and a wave of the hand,
he has wandered into an unknown land

and left us dreaming how very fair
it needs must be, since he lingers there.

And you-- oh, you, who the wildest yearn
for an old-time step, and the glad return,

think of him faring on, as dear
in the love of there as the love of here.

Think of him still as the same. I say,
he is not dead-- he is just away.

With a cheery smile, and a wave of the hand
he has wandered into an unknown land,

and left us dreaming how very fair
it needs must be, since he lingers there.

And you-- O you, who the wildest yearn
for the old-time step and the glad return--,

think of him faring on, as dear
in the love of There as the love of Here;

....

Think of him still as the same, I say:
He is not dead-- he is just away.

         --James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916). You can read the whole poem here.

Callimachus: The house beheld a two-fold woe

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At morn we buried Melanippus; as the sun set the maiden Basilo died by her own hand, as she could not endure to lay her brother on the pyre and live; and the house beheld a two-fold woe, and all Cyrene bowed her head, to see the home of happy children made desolate.

   --Callimachus and Lycophron CXLII. From The Greek Anthology (1852), George Burges. A 1917 translation is here.

If you have the original Greek, could you send it in?

Thank you to Ande and the Perseus Project for the Greek.

Ἠῶιοι Μελάνιππον ἐθάπτομεν, ἠελίου δέ
     δυομένου Βασιλὼ κάτθανε παρθενική
αὐτοχερί: ζώειν γὰρ ἀδελφεὸν ἐν πυρὶ θεῖσα
     οὐκ ἔτλη. δίδυμον δ᾽ οἶκος ἐπεῖδε κακόν
5πατρὸς Ἀριστίπποιο, κατήφησεν δὲ Κυρήνη
     πᾶσα τὸν εὔτεκνον χῆρον ἰδοῦσα δόμον.


Izumi Shikibu: Why did you vanish into the empty sky?

AloneLalla-Ali  
Why did you vanish
into the empty sky?
Even the fragile snow,
when it falls,
falls in this world.

               --Izumi Shikibu (和泉式部) b 976?, woman poet of the Heian period, Japan. Her daughter, also a gifted poet, died in childbirth. Translation by Jane Hirshfield and Mariki Aratani in The Ink Dark Moon..

などて君むなしき空に消えにけん淡雪だにもふればふる世に




F.W.H. Myers: The mountain-climber's grave

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On a Grave at Grindelwald

Here let us leave him; for his shroud the snow,
for funeral-lamps he has the planets seven,
for a great sign the icy stair shall go
between the heights to heaven.

One moment stood he as the angels stand,
high in the stainless eminence of air;
the next, he was not, to his fatherland
translated unaware.

     --Frederick William Henry Myers (1843-1901)


James Joyce: Sad is his voice that calls me

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Rain on Rahoon falls softly, softly falling,
where my dark lover lies.
Sad is his voice that calls me, sadly calling,
at grey moonrise.

Love, hear thou
how soft, how sad his voice is ever calling,
ever unanswered, and the dark rain falling,
then as now.

Dark to our hearts. O love, shall lie and cold
as his sad heart has lain
under the moongrey nettles, the black mould.
and muttering rain.

    --James Joyce (1882-1941). This poem was inspired by the true story of a young man, Michael Bodkin, who courted Joyce's future wife, Nora, before they met. Michael had tuberculosis but "left his house on the rainy night before Nora left Galway to sing beneath her window a song of sorrow and farewell. He died from exposure a short time later and was buried in Rahoon cemetery." [From For the Love of Ireland, ed. Susan Cahill]