Sunday, 22 October 2017

Death in the Heart

Having just finished Elizabeth Bowen's Death of the Heart, my eye was caught by the phrase "death in the heart", referring to something quite different, in PJ Kavanagh's 1975 essay Fear of an Odd Sort:

" ...time ... is the most fearful of all things. Children are time made flesh. To love a child is to love a cloud; a child changes, slips through our fingers, disappears, probably physically but anyway into the adult. It is a love with no end in view save separation. It has to be unselfish enough to encourage that separation, it has no consummation, is nothing except what it is and every day is a fresh blow on the wedge.

Iris Origo says the Japanese have a word for the fear of an odd sort such knowledge causes, something like "a death in the heart". And it is a death, a loss, an education in time and in an impossible unselfishness. We fail, of course, but we think about it and it is worth our thought. "

9 comments:

  1. For me, the last few weeks have been dominated by that feeling. We're moving house in a few weeks and the process of packing boxes has been a rather painful review of one's successes and failures as a parent and a reminder of the people our children once were.

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  2. Moving, don't get me started. The row that you & your wife have had to hoe as parents has been a far from easy one, judging by the item on the Today prog featuring your wife; the only thing we can be dead certain of as parents is that we won't be perfect but I reckon you have both been better than most, while having a more lonely path to tread. I hope the new house is something you are pleased about - plus still within the Lewes franchise of the Truman Show.

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  3. ...time ... is the most fearful of all things.

    I can understand that insofar as we're all moderns now. But I wonder if anything remains of the older view of cyclical time? Or of a religious understanding of time.

    Every beautiful form you have seen, every meaningful word you have heard-be not sorrowful all this must be lost; such is not really the case. The Divine Source is immortal and its outflowing gives water without cease; since neither the one nor the other can be stopped wherefore do you lament?...from the first moment when you entered this world of existence, a ladder has been set up before you...
    --Rumi.

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    1. That is extremely beautiful and immensely cheering, particularly as I've been pondering the experience of some friends a couple of nights ago - their mare tried to foal but the foal was the wrong way round and large and, despite the vet's best efforts and long hours in the night trying to make things work, both the mare and the foal died, which struck me as horribly sad and senseless. Rumi, via you, has helped

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    2. Love the Betjeman quote too

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  4. Thanks - I'm very pleased about the new house, which is larger and has a lovely view of the South Downs. I never thought I'd ever live in a house that's only 10 years old, but unlike many new homes, it's very well designed. The one sacrifice we've made is that we're now just outside Lewes. However, a five minute drive seems a small price to pay for a better quality of life.

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    1. I think a house that is 10 years old is likely to be much better than a house 30 or 40 years old when materials and environment seemed to matter less than making strange brutal statements to passers by. And is being outside Lewes a sacrifice if you are gaining quiet and space by not being in as built up an area? I hope it continues to be a pleasure to be there. Can you actually walk out onto the Downs or does that still involve a drive?

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  5. The Downs are within walking distance (and so is Glyndebourne!).

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  6. From your Instagram, I have the impression that Lewes is still pretty easy to access as well. Best of all worlds by the sounds of it.

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