Rachel Bluwstein: "Only the dead don't die"
Lamartine: Man has no harbor, Time has no shore

Jan de Hartog: If only I could believe the rhyme: "There is an old belief...."


If only I could believe the rhyme I had once found scribbled on the inside of a wardrobe in wartime England when I was billeted there during the war:

There is an old belief that on some distant shore,
far from despair and grief, old friends shall meet once more.

But I could not believe it. She was gone, forever.

      --Jan de Hartog (1914-2002) in A View of the Ocean (2007)  a memoir about the death of his mother


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I was fortunate to be good friends with Jan de Hartog in his final years. While he may have written as a younger man that he had trouble believing the distant shore homily, as an elderly Quaker full of light, love, and our shared cheesecake and bonhomie, I think Jan was getting closer and closer to knowing in his core the truth of his hopeful rhyme. I have strong hopes of seeing my friend again when I make my own voyage.

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