by William Shakespeare
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste.
Then can I drown an eye unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long since cancelled woe,
And moan th’ expense of many a vanished sight.
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er
The sad account of fore-bemoanèd moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored, and sorrows end.
Loss is the unflinching gift and mantle of time, unforgiving, unstoppable and inevitable. I have been surrounded by loss the past few weeks. It can feel overwhelming and strangely rejuvenating at the same time.
Loess soils are some of the most productive soils in North America. Loess soils are found in the corn belt from Nebraska to Ohio and Missouri to Minnesota. These soils were formed over millions of years by deposition of small particles from the wind. These particles originated from erosion caused by wind, rain, freeze/thaw, glaciers, the grinding and wearing down that our environment imposes on even the stoutest of mountains. Loess is a sedimentary deposit of mineral particles which are finer than sand but coarser than dust or clay, it slowly accumulates to as much as 6 feet of depth and loess is formed. Loess often develops into extremely fertile agricultural soil. It is full of minerals, has good internal structure and drains water well, all the things plants require to prosper.
Loss and Loess are phonetically identical. Do you find it interesting that soil scientists have categorized the soils of the most productive farmland in the world as the accumlation of the unpredictable and random deposition of the debris of the surrounding environment? Is there a metaphor there for the human condition? Is our loss less the wearing down of our beings, but rather the creation of fertile soil from which we will sprout new life…
A Sequence of Sonnets on the Death of Robert Browning
What secret thing of splendour or of shade
Surmised in all those wandering ways wherein
Man, led of love and life and death and sin,
Strays, climbs, or cowers, allured, absorbed, afraid,
Might not the strong and sunlike sense invade
Of that full soul that had for aim to win
Light, silent over time’s dark toil and din,
Life, at whose touch death fades as dead things fade?
O spirit of man, what mystery moves in thee
That he might know not of in spirit, and see
The heart within the heart that seems to strive,
The life within the life that seems to be,
And hear, through all thy storms that whirl and drive,
The living sound of all men’s souls alive?