Saturday, 6 January 2018


For the first Saturday Blog of 2018, the theme is  resolve   - how predictable is that? New Year resolutions? I haven't made any. There was a time when I did, but it didn't make any difference to anything except engender a sense of disillusion with myself when I failed to keep them. So that's that. I know how Hamlet felt!

Neat segue... Talk of resolve always makes me think of Shakespeare's greatest play, triggered by Hamlet's soliloquy from Act I scene 2:
"O, that this too too sullied flesh would melt,
 Thaw and resolve itself into a dew"... etc

Peerless poetry. I studied it first for English A-level and then at Warwick University, where G.K Hunter, the revered Shakespearean scholar, was a founding professor of the English department. I've probably seen Hamlet acted more times than any other play and still re-read it from time to time in an old and battered (but much loved) Cambridge University Press edition. Like all great works of literature it has such complexity and resonance that I discover new facets every time I encounter it.

Since Christmas, I've been spending a lot of time with Adele and her ailing mother. Dorothy (Lady D) was not expected to make it into the New Year, having survived a hip operation at the beginning of December only to contract a bad chest infection. She's currently on an end-of-life palliative care regime in the comfort of her own home, but she's so far defying prognostications - once again. There are good days and bad days. She may pull through, or she may find it all too exhausting. At 97 (and half-blind and half-deaf) bouncing back should not be taken for granted. It's a raw and difficult time for her family, as you might imagine.

Today's poem stems from events and observations that have impressed themselves on me in recent days. I hope it's okay to share this... I think the link to the theme will be obvious.

Resolve Into Adieu*
For so many long decades
a member of the tribe tenacious,
she finds
now that she wants to loosen her grip
and slip with dignity
into the dark night of sleep,
it's not up to her after all
the moment of her going.

"I'm so tired, love, I just want
to be done with everything", she wails,
this frail frame of bones
festooned with ills,
this wafer-thin bird
who waits for a caressing breeze
to carry her sailing home
to her fearless friend.

But it's not her call.

Resolve though she might,
she cannot dictate her end
and so surprised, she rallies,
a lucid mind in a pellucid shell.

Greeting another winter's day
without undue commotion,
she waits with equilibrium
to see
which way this play will go,
prepared to embrace life or death,
let come what may.

*For Dorothy Robinson (1920-2018)

Adieu! Thanks for reading, S ;-)


Anonymous said...

The poem's the thing... very affecting.

Steve Rowland said...

Aha - paraphrasing Hamlet! Very good, anon. & thanks for the generous feedback. Lady D is proving to be something of a female Lazarus and a recovery is on the cards.

Anonymous said...

That's a beautiful poem Steve.

Anonymous said...

This resonates with my maternal aunt, also 97, who was ready to shuffle off (her) mortal coil before Christmas, but hung on. I went with much trepidation to see her yesterday. So hard for the carers ...

Anonymous said...

Agree with you about NY resolutions. Agree with you about Hamlet too. As for the poem, your compassion shines through the words.

Anonymous said...

Very moving poem that. It's no fun getting old! Hope things are improving all round.

Anonymous said...

Fabulous poem.

Steve Rowland said...

Dorothy Robinson, after defying the odds for so long, finally departed this world last night, February 17th 2018. (I've updated the blog accordingly.) She was a lovely lady and I hope she has found the peace she was looking for.

Matt West said...

Sorry to hear that, buddy.