Wednesday, March 22, 2006


My friend David Metzger lost his beloved wife, Shirley, a few days ago. Their lives together in health were a witness to intellectual, spiritual, and community-building vitality; their lives after Shirley's stroke more than a year ago have been a testimony to patient grace and caring service. Rest in peace, Shirley. Grieve walking ever forward, David.

I found this poem by Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore in a recent translation of Gitanjali; it makes me think of Shirley's life-end witness.

All that for days
remained unclear, indistinct
in my life's work,
all that did not blossom out clearly
in the dawn light,
I give You, O Lord,
in my life's last gift,
in my life's last song--
all that did not blossom out clearly
in the dawn light.

I could not arrange all this finally
on the strings of words.
I could not complete all this
on the strings of songs.
All this remained hidden
secretly, silently
from the world's sight.

Yet it was attractive
in ever-new ways,
all this, Companion--
all that did not blossom out clearly
in the dawn light.

Because of this
I traveled throughout the world.
All my life-efforts
went into it.
In every possible way,
in my every action, with everyone,
even in bed and in my dreams
it remained with me,
uppermost in my thoughts.
Still it remained alone, by itself.
In the dawn light
it did not blossom out clearly.

For a long time
a continuous stream of people
wanted it in vain.
Turning aside at last,
they went away.
No one but You
will understand.
One day
it would get to know You.
This hope was ever
on its horizon--
but it never blossomed out clearly
in the dawn light.

From Show Yourself to my Soul, a new translation of Gitanjali by James Talarovic, Sorin Books, Notre Dame, Indiana, 1983.

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