Two weeks ago, some good friends of mine were blindsided by tragedy: they lost one of their sons in an automobile accident. He was nine years old. Ever since I heard the news, I’ve been trying to think of moments in art–a passage of music, some words of poetry–that speak in some small way, however inadequately, to how I feel when reflecting on their unimaginable loss. Today, unable to sleep at around 3 AM, they finally came to me: lines from the 10th stanza of William Wordsworth’s Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood.
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.