Saturday, November 21, 2009
This lonesome image affects one emotionally, reminding us that death is essentially a solitary experience, both for the deceased and for those most impacted by the loss. This snapshot depicts a fresh burial from the 1920s; it came from an Austin, Texas estate and was developed by Fox Photo of San Antonio. After the last rites, one or two close family members probably stayed to witness the closing of the grave, and they memorialized the final, solemn moment through this photograph. This calls to mind the famous poem Solitude by Ella Wheeler Wilcox:
Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air.
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.
Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all.
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life's gall.
Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.
© 2009, copyright Stephen Mills, poem excepted