Gone From My Sight by Henry Jackson Van Dyke

时间:2017-12-10 20:28 来源:旁氏无暇透白防晒霜 作者:旁氏洗面奶怎么样 点击:

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.

The object of the poem, the ship, is introduced here as strong and beautiful. Van Dyke refers to it as female; if the ship were human, she would be the very picture of health and vitality.

I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Not being diminished in any way except by the narrator’s own perspective, she slowly disappears.

Then, someone at my side says, “There, she is gone.

Gone where?

Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,

hull and spar as she was when she left my side.
And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me — not in her.

Thus the ship remains strong and able, carrying precious cargo safety to its destination.

And, just at the moment when someone says, “There, she is gone,”
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!”

And that is dying…

Portrait photograph of American funeral poet Henry Jackson Van Dyke

Henry Jackson Van Dyke
(Credit: allpoetry.com)

Van Dyke was the son of a Presbyterian minister, so it is easy to assume that he had some sort of ancestral heaven in mind when he imagined the “other eyes… and other voices” waiting to greet the ship as she arrived on a distant, invisible shore. This interpretation requires the reader to accept the concept of heaven or an “otherworld” in order to gain comfort from the poem. Within this context, the poem loses its meaning for those who don’t believe in life or consciousness after bodily death.

However, there is another feasible reading of the poem that offers another meaning and a different relationship between death, loss and memory. The narrator’s acknowledgement that the ship is diminished only by perspective opens the possibility of seeing her with the same eyes as those who are watching from the opposite shore. Remembering her stature, strength and beauty, the narrator retains the memory of her as she was. This suggests that, as we bid farewell to the dying body of a loved one, we welcome them into the richness of our living memory — not diminished but transfigured into an undying, ancestral story.

Regardless of what you believe about the afterlife, reincarnation or the Invisible World, it remains true that the dead are carried by the living; they actively contribute to weaving the tapestry of our collective story for as long as we remember them — their stories, their sorrows, their joys, and their hopes and prayers for us and generations to come. It can be helpful to remember this as we try to ease the dying time of a loved one. By letting them know they will not be forgotten, we, perhaps, can give them the freedom to move on.

This poem also reminds us to live our lives in a such a way we provide nourishment and guidance to those who we will not live long enough to meet.

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