Dirge Without Music

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,– but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,–
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

-Edna St. Vincent Millay

     I recently finished reading the book Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein about an Air Transport Auxiliary pilot, Rose, who was imprisoned for six months in the Ravensbrück concentration camp during WWII. While this specific story was a work of fiction, Rose takes solace in poetry- specifically the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay. I had never before read her work, but her poetry is impactful. Only a couple of the verses from the above poem are recited in the book, but at this moment in time, the words are more relevant than ever.

     There has been so much tragedy and death in our world lately. From the very personal loss of my grandpa’s passing, to the life lost overseas to unthinkable violence. My heart aches for those I have never met, for the names I will never know, and the smiles and beauty that will never be seen again. It is true that death and violence happen all the time. People die unjustly, but that is no reason to not care. My heart aches for those who will never be given burial rites, and for the families who had no choice but to flee for their lives. I do not approve. And I am not resigned.


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