Poems on the Fleetingness of Life

Poems on the Fleetingness of Life

Poems on the Fleetingness of Life

We are as clouds that veil the midnight moon;

How restlessly they speed, and gleam, and quiver,

Streaking the darkness radiantly! – yet soon

Night closes round, and they are lost forever.

– Percy Bysshe Shelly

This poem touched many layers in me.

The English romantic poet Shelley wrote it when he was 22; he died when he was 30; too young.

And yet as my friends age and three of them are now in the end estate of life, the disappearance of spirit in human form always seems too young.

15 minute poem on Death

I feel the breath of death on my neck.

Without making up a story 

I will only say-


I forgot.  

Death is here.

Death was never NOT here.

I forgot that this is a TIMED EVENT.

I had the luxury to forget about death.

Now I have the luxury of remembering.

I celebrated a friend’s mother’s 100th birthday last weekend; so much generosity of love shared all around. It will still be too soon when night closes round.

Another poetic expression of the poignancy of the fleetingness of life from the beloved Irish poet John O’Donohue, read at more than one memorial service for treasured friends and brothers:

On the death of the Beloved

Though we need to weep your loss,
You dwell in that safe place in our hearts,
Where no storm or night or pain can reach you.

Your love was like the dawn
Brightening over our lives
Awakening beneath the dark
A further adventure of colour.

The sound of your voice
Found for us
A new music
That brightened everything.

Whatever you enfolded in your gaze
Quickened in the joy of its being;
You placed smiles like flowers
On the altar of the heart.
Your mind always sparkled
With wonder at things.

Though your days here were brief,
Your spirit was live, awake, complete.

We look towards each other no longer
From the old distance of our names;
Now you dwell inside the rhythm of breath,
As close to us as we are to ourselves.

Though we cannot see you with outward eyes,
We know our soul’s gaze is upon your face,
Smiling back at us from within everything
To which we bring our best refinement.

Let us not look for you only in memory,
Where we would grow lonely without you.
You would want us to find you in presence,
Beside us when beauty brightens,
When kindness glows
And music echoes eternal tones.

When orchids brighten the earth,
Darkest winter has turned to spring;
May this dark grief flower with hope
In every heart that loves you.

May you continue to inspire us:

To enter each day with a generous heart.
To serve the call of courage and love
Until we see your beautiful face again
In that land where there is no more separation,
Where all tears will be wiped from our mind,
And where we will never lose you again.

– John O’Donohue

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