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So Many Different Lengths Of Time – Poem by Brian Patten

14 Apr

So Many Different Lengths Of Time – Poem by Brian Patten

How long does a man live after all?
A thousand days or only one?
One week or a few centuries?
How long does a man spend living or dying
and what do we mean when we say gone forever?

Adrift in such preoccupations, we seek clarification.
We can go to the philosophers
but they will weary of our questions.
We can go to the priests and rabbis
but they might be busy with administrations.

So, how long does a man live after all?
And how much does he live while he lives?
We fret and ask so many questions –
then when it comes to us
the answer is so simple after all.

A man lives for as long as we carry him inside us,
for as long as we carry the harvest of his dreams,
for as long as we ourselves live,
holding memories in common, a man lives.

His lover will carry his man’s scent, his touch:
his children will carry the weight of his love.
One friend will carry his arguments,
another will hum his favourite tunes,
another will still share his terrors.

And the days will pass with baffled faces,
then the weeks, then the months,
then there will be a day when no question is asked,
and the knots of grief will loosen in the stomach
and the puffed faces will calm.
And on that day he will not have ceased
but will have ceased to be separated by death.

How long does a man live after all?
A man lives so many different lengths of time.

For Bill Mitchell whom we all love.
We heard later in the evening that Bill had died peacefully with his beloved beside him. Go well, dear Bill, go well.
 
 

9 responses to “So Many Different Lengths Of Time – Poem by Brian Patten

  1. babyjill7...Marilyn Griffin

    April 17, 2017 at 7:32 am

    sadly lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • mybeautfulthings

      April 17, 2017 at 8:30 am

      Yes – and so sad to lose our wonderful friend and neighbour. The poem is perfect for him. xx

      Like

       
  2. saymber

    April 15, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    Reblogged this on As I see it and commented:
    A beautiful poem from My Beautiful Things, our sweet Sally, in honor of her friend Bill today.

    Like

     
  3. saymber

    April 15, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    Just beautiful Sally. Sending love and hugs across the ocean to you today.

    Liked by 1 person

     
  4. Hils Bryant

    April 15, 2017 at 6:53 am

    How very beautiful. My dad will live in me and Lauren for as long as we have breath.

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • mybeautfulthings

      April 15, 2017 at 9:37 am

      That’s why I love this poem so much. There is an African saying that we all die twice, first when your body dies and then when your name is no longer spoken, so yes, our loved ones live on in us. Much love to you X X x

      Liked by 1 person

       
  5. mybeautfulthings

    April 14, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    Gaynor, he is very close to death and we are all so very sad. With love to you and Paul from us both xx

    Like

     

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