I hope that my faithful blog readers enjoy my sharing of personal family Good Love stories. Today I want to talk about my uncle David. He is the brother, two years younger, of my father. Several years ago, when my work travels took me to Boston several times, I looked up David and visited with him. I had not seen him in over 40 years. My first impression was how small his house and barn were, compared to my memories of them.I was able to learn of David’s many interests, and share with him several that are important to me as well. David was a journalist and editor by profession, but now retired, he had dedicated himself to the arts. He wrote poetry, composed music, built dulcimers, and enjoyed photography. Well I appreciate music, and very much appreciate some poetry, but don’t compose or write that. However, I am an avid photographer.
David shared some of his poetry and music with me, and some of the sources of it. He said that “For me, my music passion has become melody, melody, melody, and more melody.” He was proud of his ability to recognize the beauty in the poetry of others. He did research in old cemeteries, gathering gravestone inscriptions and then assembling the epitaphs into hymnal songs using his own tunes.
Observing the monuments and reading old tombstones is something I have done all over the world as well. Cemeteries are wonderful places to relax and reflect, maybe even make a momentous decision or two. There are evidences that love is as strong as death, along with the reminder that death is the great equalizer who shows no favorites. I shared some paintings on death in Spain and a tomb hourglass with wings showing time flies from France in an earlier post.
David and I talked about these things on my visits, and I was able to share further with some letters. There was a fellow in the French Quarter in New Orleans that I talked with, who was playing a dulcimer. I sent Uncle David some recordings of his music.
Here is a poem I found in Puerto Rico that I also shared with Uncle David – Between My Voice and Time, by Julia de Burgos. I also shared some thoughts with him on what the significance of the artwork might be. Is the woman in pain from a broken heart? Has she looked into a mirror and is reflecting on some terrible past deed? Why is death recoiling? What may have convinced death it is not yet time to take her?The English translation would be:
At the brink of death
There is something,
Some sail about to leave,
Some empty tomb
Which enamors my soul.
But I blush, ashamed of seeing myself as I am!
Death’s loyalty should be so profound!
On the edge of death,
So close, on the bank,
(which is like contemplating myself as I stand in front of a mirror)
They recognize my song,
And even the color of my name.
Am I the errant bridge between the dream and death?
From what side of the world they call me, from what front?
I am at high sea…
In the middle of time…
Who will win?
Am I alive?
Am I dead?
Present! Here! Present!
Julia de Burgos wrote a lot of poetry about death. She even wrote one titled Poem For My Death, in which she wonders what she can call herself, what she will be called after death. She was an alcoholic and suffered from depression. Maybe the artwork above has something to do with the chains of addiction.
Tomorrow, we plan to go on a tour of Oakland Cemetery, to study the Victorian symbolism in the artwork there. Last night I learned that Uncle David is in the hospital and the cancer is winning. He went to sleep last Tuesday and may not wake again in this world.
I know what I call Uncle David. To me he is kind and gentle, to me he is a poet and musician. Here is one of his poems – The Time of Song
If only I could be a graceful poet, then would I voice my own true love,
And without regret sing joyfully of all the beauty here, above –
Just like the Bible’s gentle turtledove, whose cooing seeks a Spring duet.
And if I possessed the lyrical talent, amid the budding trees and flowers
I’d warble my heartfelt delight in tender verses flowing from the pen,
And with elegant tunes so gay and bright they would charm a world beyond the glen.
And if ever I become that stylish poet I will harmonize my growing love,
As sounds the birdie at window slightly raised who heard my strings and melody
And flew to the sunbathed sill to sing with me our soaring descant destiny.
That’s what we all need – more true love, less regrets, more heartfelt delights, more charm, more and more growing love. What do I do with my time and money? Do I try to use more for truly worthwhile things, things that will make a positive difference not only in my life, but in the lives of others? Can I really make Good Love into Better Love, and not settle for the mediocre? Julia de Burgos said, “We are here to live, not to die. You should die in death not in life.” How can I have more life and less death in my life? Work for more Good and Better Love.