Sunday, March 22, 2015

HOPE FOR THE PAST

Robert Frost
(1874 - 1963)
Photo by Walter Albertin

The concept of hope is usually reserved for the future.  As Robert Frost and David Ray's poem remind us, however, it may be that a more pressing question is whether there is hope for one's past — all of the actions, decisions, and indecisions that undergird what one has become.

                                                 Thanks, Robert Frost
                                                         by David Ray

                                Do you have hope for the future?
                                someone asked Robert Frost, toward the end.
                                Yes, and even for the past, he replied,
                                that it will turn out to have been all right
                                for what it was, something we can accept,
                                mistakes made by the selves we had to be,
                                not able to be, perhaps, what we wished,
                                or what looking back half the time it seems
                                we could so easily have been, or ought . . .
                                The future, yes, and even for the past,
                                that it will become something we can bear.
                                And I too, and my children, so I hope,
                                will recall as not too heavy the tug
                                of those albatrosses I sadly placed
                                upon their tender necks.  Hope for the past,
                                yes, old Frost, your words provide that courage,
                                and it brings strange peace that itself passes
                                into past, easier to bear because
                                you said it, rather casually, as snow
                                went on falling in Vermont years ago.

Credit:  David Ray's poem, "Thanks, Robert Frost," is published in Music of Time: Selected and New Poems (The Blackwater Press, 2006).  Thanks also to Parker J. Palmer's column, Meaning Changes As Life Unfolds, published March 18, 2015, on Krista Tippett's excellent site, "On Being".


24 comments:

  1. What a gentle, sweet soul housed in the body of dear Robert Frost - "...mistakes made by the selves we had to be ...". Thank you for sharing Ray's poem, George. Hope Spring 2015 finds you well.

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    1. Thanks, Bonnie. Like you, I found the most thought-provoking line to be the one about "mistakes made by the selves we had to be . . ." Glad this poem resonated with you.

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  2. I love this poem George, as I love all Frost's work. Visiting his grave in the US was a highlight of one of my holidays.

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  3. Glad you liked the poem, Pat. I also love Frost's poetry, and when I revisit those poems, I always discover new insights.

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  4. I have chills reading and responding to this poem, George. Tears too. I think of those "promises to keep" and the poignancy connected here in the last couple of lines. There was a sad weariness in "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," and a strong sense of present and future, written 41 years before Frost died. Here, we feel him looking back, forgiving all those promises, kept or not, submitting to something larger and yet very, very personal.

    I love it.

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    1. Thanks for your lovely and thoughtful comments, Ruth. This poem resonated deeply with me as well. I think it is especially poignant for those of us who have been around the track a few times. With each passing year, there is the deepening need to not only be completely authentic, but to also honor that authenticity. Being faithful to one's authentic self, however, often comes at a price. In short, the "mistakes made by the selves we had to be" often cause collateral pain to others. Notwithstanding the best of intentions, many of us have unwittingly placed albatrosses around the tender necks of those we cared about, which makes it all the more important that we find a way toward the dying of the light to share Frost's hope that the past "will turn out to have been all right for what it was, something we can accept . . . something we can bear."

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    1. Thanks, Gwen. Glad you liked the poem.

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  6. That poem reminded me of TS Eliot:

    Time present and time past
    Are both perhaps present in time future,
    And time future contained in time past.
    If all time is eternally present
    All time is unredeemable... etc.

    David Ray is less abstract and less highfalutin', which I like.

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    1. Thanks, Dominic. Glad you liked this poem.

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  7. It is a great thing if you can forgive yourself for your past.
    Expectations, promises, mistakes and wrong turnings, it’s good to take the mellow view.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Friko. I agree entirely.

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  8. Just thought I'd drop by. Looks like you've been blogging about as much as me! :)

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    1. Hi Dominic!

      Good to hear from you. Yes, I've been relatively quiet for the past three or four months. Hard to explain, really. There seem to be times when I need down time to figure out where I'm going with the next stage of my life. It seems that many of my other blogging friends may be going through the same thing.

      In the first two weeks of June, I walked about 150 miles (about 80%) of the Offa's Dyke Path. Started out in Chepstow and ended up in Llangollen. Much tougher terrain than I would have imagined. The biggest problem I had, however, was with bulls. On my second day out, I was charged by a mean bull and was lucky to get out of the situation with my life. It was a good time to have my trekking poles with me.

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  9. This is so poignant... just so aligned with the welcome message in your blog!
    Thank you for sharing!
    Kindly
    Cris M

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  10. Thanks so much for your lovely comment, Chris. Glad you found something here that resonates with you. Please feel free to join in the conversations you find here. I haven't posted too much in recent months, but hope to post more often in the coming months. I took a look at your blog and found it inspiring. Walking, silence, solitude, listening — these are the watchwords by which I guide my life.

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  11. I miss your blogging. Hope all has been well.

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    1. Thanks for your good wishes, George. All is well; just taking a little break from blogging.

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  12. Stopped by as well. Hope you're enjoying life.

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  13. Nice to hear from you, Margaret. All is well, thought I'm haven't blogged for the past year. Just enjoying life, as I hope you and your family are as well.

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    1. Yes, we are busy - and moving to the App mountains in June (NC)

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    2. Good luck on your move. As noted in my reply to your comments on the barred owl posting, we live just below the Blue Ridge mountains and love the area. I spend a lot of time hiking and pursuing my photography in the mountains, especially in the area between Brevard and Highlands.

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