Pages: | 1 | 2 |
sweet c
poems for a dying father 3/8/2007 9:42PM Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Hello,

my father is dying from Lou Gehrig's Disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and I am trying to put together a little book of poems that he can look to to for comfort, for inspiration, or just for an expression of how shitty his life must be right now.

For those of you who don't know ALS pretty much just shuts down your body one part at a time. Two Decembers ago he had a slight limp in his leg, and now, just over a year later, he is already in a wheelchair and unable to work. It is the saddest, cruelest disease I have ever witnessed or heard of. Shit, if he had cancer he at least would have a fighting chance with chemo.

Last month he admitted to us all that he was suicidal, and it has prompted me to try and encourage him to fight, even if it is in vain, because who knows, and also to give harsh God a big "f*** you, I won't give up."

Here are two examples of what I have so far, but my English experience is not as wide as I wish, so I am asking you all for good poems about living or dying, about the struggle of life, or even about the sadness of it, whatever might resound with him, please suggest it.

DO NOT GO GENTLE INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT
Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

and the Robert Browning excerpt from Rabbi Ben Ezra

Then, welcome each rebuff
That turns earth’s smoothness rough,
Each sting that bids nor sit nor stand but go!
Be our joys three-parts pain!
Strive, and hold cheap the strain;
Learn, nor account the pang; dare, never grudge the throe!

For thence,—a paradox
Which comforts while it mocks,—
Shall life succeed in that it seems to fail:
What I aspired to be,
And was not, comforts me:
A brute I might have been, but would not sink i’ the scale

What is he but a brute
Whose flesh hath soul to suit,
Whose spirit works lest arms and legs want play?
To man, propose this test—
Thy body at its best,
How far can that project thy soul on its lone way?
sweet c
RE: poems for a dying father 3/8/2007 9:45PM - in reply to sweet c Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
sorry, here is the browning again, i dont know why it screwed up

Rabbi Ben Ezra

Then, welcome each rebuff
That turns earth’s smoothness rough,
Each sting that bids nor sit nor stand but go!
Be our joys three-parts pain!
Strive, and hold cheap the strain; 35
Learn, nor account the pang; dare, never grudge the throe!

For thence,—a paradox
Which comforts while it mocks,—
Shall life succeed in that it seems to fail:
What I aspired to be, 40
And was not, comforts me:
A brute I might have been, but would not sink i’ the scale

What is he but a brute
Whose flesh hath soul to suit,
Whose spirit works lest arms and legs want play? 45
To man, propose this test—
Thy body at its best,
How far can that project thy soul on its lone way?
marijuologist
RE: poems for a dying father 3/8/2007 10:00PM - in reply to Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
trust me, he doesn't want poems about life and death. that stuff is morbid and depressing, not to mention worthless since his life is ruined anyway. instead, try to distrat him from the horror of his condition with happy stuff. make him laugh.
robertoo
RE: poems for a dying father 3/8/2007 10:09PM - in reply to sweet c Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
might not be apt but what about a list of funny last words - something like this

http://www.gdargaud.net/Humor/LastWords.html
sweet c
RE: poems for a dying father 3/8/2007 10:11PM - in reply to Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
To make him laugh would be great, but for every season of Seinfeld (or whatever the equivalent) we lay out in front of him, it only reminds him of why we are trying to do so. He has a great sense of humor, and has adopted a good "well, I'll cry if I don't laugh" policy, but what he lacks is a sense of spirituality... and I don't mean in the purely Christian/official religious sense, because I find that to be a bit too limiting and outside of the realm of what he is looking for. This is not to say that I wouldn't put a religious poem(s) in whatever I print out for him, but I don't want to limit to all that Lamb of God stuff.
runner kid
RE: poems for a dying father 3/8/2007 10:19PM - in reply to sweet c Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Here are a few I've found.



When I Have Fears
-John Keats

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charact'ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripened grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starred face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love!- then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.




Up-Hill
Christina Rossetti

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day's journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hid it from my face?
You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
They will not keep you waiting at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
Of labor you shall find the sun.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
Yes, beds for all who come.




Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now
A.E. Housman

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.
Flagpole Willy
RE: poems for a dying father 3/8/2007 10:28PM - in reply to marijuologist Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

marijuologist wrote:

trust me, he doesn't want poems about life and death. that stuff is morbid and depressing, not to mention worthless since his life is ruined anyway. instead, try to distrat him from the horror of his condition with happy stuff. make him laugh.


I agree with this. Sorry to hear about your dad. My dad was diagnosed with an "incurable" cancer about 7 years ago, and he retired early. Turns out they "cured" him -- well, he's been cancer free for 5 years now -- the first diagnosed person ever with his form of cancer to be rid of it. Amazing! Anyway, when I learned he was diagnosed, I wrote a short story about him and my childhood growing up, so I know the kinds of feelings you're having.

I suggest the following by Mark Twain:

A man from John Smith and Co.
Loudly proclaimed that he'd tho.
Men that he saw dumping dirt near his store
The men therefore didn't do.

Read the above as this:

A man from John Smith and Company
Loudly proclaimed that he'd thump any
Men that he saw dumping dirt near his store
The men therefore didn't dump any
Wolfgang Grajonca
RE: poems for a dying father 3/8/2007 10:28PM - in reply to sweet c Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Box of Rain
lyric by Robert Hunter

Look out of any window
any morning, any evening, any day
Maybe the sun is shining
birds are winging or
rain is falling from a heavy sky -
What do you want me to do,
to do for you to see you through?
This is all a dream we dreamed
one afternoon long ago

Walk out of any doorway
feel your way, feel your way
like the day before
Maybe you'll find direction
around some corner
where it's been waiting to meet you -
What do you want me to do,
to watch for you while you're sleeping?
Well please don't be surprised
when you find me dreaming too

Look into any eyes
you find by you, you can see
clear through to another day
I know it's been seen before
through other eyes on other days
while going home -
What do you want me to do,
to do for you to see you through?
It's all a dream we dreamed
one afternoon long ago

Walk into splintered sunlight
Inch your way through dead dreams
to another land
Maybe you're tired and broken
Your tongue is twisted
with words half spoken
and thoughts unclear
What do you want me to do
to do for you to see you through
A box of rain will ease the pain
and love will see you through

Just a box of rain -
wind and water -
Believe it if you need it,
if you don't just pass it on
Sun and shower -
Wind and rain -
in and out the window
like a moth before a flame

It's just a box of rain
I don't know who put it there
Believe it if you need it
or leave it if you dare
But it's just a box of rain
or a ribbon for your hair
Such a long long time to be gone
and a short time to be there
mike fanelli
RE: poems for a dying father 3/8/2007 10:32PM - in reply to sweet c Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Sweet C,

Man, I am so sorry that your Pop (and you) must endure this struggle...just recently lost a friend to Lou Gehrig's...he was a champion...stud runner, stud golfer, excellent quality person...weird damn disease...I digress...while the following is not a poem, I wanted to share the most moving such expression that I've uncovered in recent times...Warren Zevon (singer/songwriter extraordinnaire) seized the exceptional opportunity to express himself through his music when faced with terminal cancer...the result is an album called "The Wind" and I'd so highly encourage you to get a copy of this, in that, his expression of living and dying is the most tender that I've ever experienced.

In particular, the song "Keep Me In Your Heart For A While"...lyrics to follow:

Shadows are falling and I'm running out of breath
Keep me in your heart for a while
If I leave you it doesn't mean I love you any less
Keep me in your heart for a while

/ G Gmaj7 Cadd9 G / Cadd9 - G - / :

When you get up in the morning and you see that crazy sun
Keep me in your heart for a while
There's a train leaving nightly called when all is said and done
Keep me in your heart for a while

{Refrain}
Sha la, la-la-la, la-la-li, li, lo
Keep me in your heart for a while
Sha la, la-la-la, la-la-li, li, lo
Keep me in your heart for a while

Sometimes when you're doing simple things around the house
Maybe you'll think of me and smile
You know I'm tied to you like the buttons on your blouse
Keep me in your heart for a while

Hold me in your thoughts, take me to your dreams
Touch me as I fall into view
When the winter comes keep the fires lit
And I will be right next to you

/ Cadd9 - G/B - / A7sus4 - G - / 1st / A7sus4 - D7 - /

Engine driver's headed north to Pleasant Stream
Keep me in your heart for a while
These wheels keep turning but they're running out of steam
Keep me in your heart for a while

{Refrain}

Keep me in your heart for a while

/ Cadd9 - G - /
hopen
RE: poems for a dying father 3/8/2007 10:38PM - in reply to Wolfgang Grajonca Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
sorry about your dad man. my granpa had something like this. just give your dad good thoughts and tell him to try and visualize himself well again, it cant hurt.
kublai khan
RE: poems for a dying father 3/8/2007 10:52PM - in reply to hopen Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
just about anything by keats works, coming to peace with his own mortality is pretty much all he wrote about. If you want something that celebrates life though, you cant beat walt whitman:

Spirit that form'd this scene,
These tumbled rock-piles grim and red,
These reckless heaven-ambitious peaks,
These gorges, turbulent-clear streams, this naked freshness,

These formless wild arrays, for reasons of their own,
I know thee, savage spirit--we have communed together,
Mine too such wild arrays, for reasons of their own;
Was't charged against my chants they had forgotten art?
To fuse within themselves its rules precise and delicatesse?
The lyrist's measur'd beat, the wrought-out temple's
grace--column and polish'd arch forgot?
But thou that revelest here--spirit that form'd this scene,
They have remember'd thee.
kublai khan
RE: poems for a dying father 3/8/2007 10:53PM - in reply to kublai khan Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
also:

This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson
done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the
themes thou lovest best,
Night, sleep, death and the stars.
sweet c
RE: poems for a dying father 3/8/2007 11:05PM - in reply to kublai khan Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
thank you all for the replies so far, keep them coming as all are good
collegal
RE: poems for a dying father 3/8/2007 11:05PM - in reply to kublai khan Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
how about making a lot of pictures and putting together an awesome, slightly tacky, fun scrapbook together? You can have everyone that is important to him make a page for it.

and maybe also put together some collages of the beautiful places he's been, of the things he takes comfort in-nature, sports, etc.

if I were in your position, though, I wouldn't remind him of how he is dying, just making his last years meaningful and fulfilled. ask him what he wants to do-maybe it'll be something that he can't physically do, but get creative and you can bring it to him you know?
hart crane
RE: poems for a dying father 3/9/2007 2:34AM - in reply to sweet c Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Theodore Roethke has a poem called "My Papa's Waltz". There are millions of ways to interpret this, or any poem, but there is an air of an impenetrable bond between father and son. Its a bit different from the others suggested.

The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother's countenance
Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.

You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.
track chick
RE: poems for a dying father 3/9/2007 4:53AM - in reply to sweet c Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
hi sweet c,
i like the scrapbook idea someone else suggested, lots of pictures of your dad and his family, places he's been to and has happy memories of, etc. if someone did something like that for me in that situation i'd be really moved.
Lorenzo the Magnificent
RE: poems for a dying father 3/9/2007 6:59AM - in reply to sweet c Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Read John Donne's Meditation 17.

http://www.online-literature.com/donne/409/
Robertoo
RE: poems for a dying father 3/9/2007 7:07AM - in reply to track chick Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I don't know if anyone has seen this programme but The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off is one of the most uplifting things I have ever seen regarding death. The viewer is taken on a rollercoaster of emotions, but through it all Jonny's optimism and humour shine through. It was so inspiring that it was put on the national education curriculum.

Here is the weblink:

http://www.channel4.com/health/microsites/B/boy_whose_skin_fell_off/index.html
Bazza
RE: poems for a dying father 3/9/2007 7:15AM - in reply to sweet c Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Firstly, my sympathies to you and your father.

My dad died of cancer seven years ago today. I still think about him everyday.

I don't know about poetry, all I know is that I wish I had talked to my father more in the time leading up to his death. I would sit with him, but even knowing he was dying I struggled to find the words to say the things I wanted to say. In particular, I wish I had asked him more about his life and I wish I had written it down. My father was a great story teller but the last few weeks of his life were spent very quietly.

I think the idea of a scrapbook that someone mentioned is a good one, but you know your father and you know best what he is like. My dad wasn't a poetry kind of guy but if you feel that it will help your dad (and you) deal with his suffering then I wish you all the best.
Robertoo
RE: poems for a dying father 3/9/2007 7:24AM - in reply to Robertoo Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Pages: | 1 | 2 |