Great Trees

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The finest of words written by Maya Angelou…

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
 fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
 of
dark, cold
caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

― Maya Angelou

A belated happy New Year to you all. I hope the year ahead brings adventures, kindness and much love to you all. H.

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11 comments

  1. I like it a lot. Thanks for sharing Hannah.

    The third stanza is fascinating. Made me think about how I felt. About whether the words were real and true for me.

    The other stanza’s hold some universal truth, where this one is more personal I think.

    I tried to think of the (definitely not as eloquent as her) words I’d use thinking about my wife and my experience…

    “When great souls die
    The air around us becomes
    heavy and stagnant.
    We breath erratic, empty, unfulfilling breaths. Deep and shallow at the same time.
    Our eyes are open but we do not see.
    Our bodies move autonomously.
    Our memory is dulled, but then randomly stirs and angers – as if an ants nest provoked by a naive stick – lurching for thoughts and words to attack.”

    Now that I’ve typed that it seems a little presumptuous to be so bold as to rewrite her words. I should really have replaced the “We” and “Our” with “I” and “My” to be clear it’s just a “for me” thing.

    Never ceases to amaze me how differently people experience and think about death and loss. After a year of talking to people about their different thoughts on the matter I’ve slowly realised that each different perspective gives me another opportunity to review and reframe my own thoughts.

    Thanks again.

  2. Thanks so much Hannah – they are incredible words to hold onto in your heart. Wishing you so much peace and love this year.

    Sophie x

  3. Thank you for those magnificent words, Hannah, and I wish you a peaceful, calm and stress-free year. I think of you often and wonder how you are coping with your new life, and I send you love and compassion and enormous hugs – Saranne xx

  4. Dear Hannah
    I have followed you silently in cyber-space on your journey after the loss of your husband Matt ..your beautifully written words of reflection bring tears to my eyes and I shared these poignant words of Pablo Neruda with a dear friend who was also grieving the loss of her young husband . I know you found solace in them and she has too and reads them often… “I WANT, WHAT I LOVE TO CONTINUE TO LIVE AND YOU, WHOM I LOVE AND SANG ABOVE EVERYTHING ELSE TO CONTINUE TO FLOURISH FULL FLOWERED…” I feel you both are continuing on admirably with what your lost “great souls” loved and are both slowly beginning to bloom again as you continue their legacy Thank you for sharing your reflections….. you are touching many “souls” out there….. Denise

    Date: Fri, 15 Jan 2016 00:28:15 +0000
    To: denisemcewen19@hotmail.com

  5. Love you Han X and much love for this year, I hope it brings you more strength, laughter and happiness (and some cheeky adventures too!) X

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