“Without Farewell” and “What Men Call Life”

I didn’t write these next two poems: “Without Farewell” and “What Men Call Life”, but, wanted to share…  They were actually written by my grandfather.  The first poem, “Without Farewell”,  he wrote early on, in 1932…  perhaps, about one of  his own parents or ?

PAWithout Farewell

Some part who part without farewell,
not knowing tis the hour.
Without the tale they longed to tell.
Without one fading flow’r.

And some will grieve, who parted so,
some secret in the breast,
they never told – and never know,
how greatly they are blessed.

They never met for some last time –
the last hour was so sweet –
as all the hours hope makes sublime
when mortals part to meet.

There is no memory of tears,
no shadow on the past.
The lovely record of the years,
is lovely to the last.

They parted smiling, with the smile
that those who part must wear
for others in the after-while,
however much they care.

No hour of anguish memory knows,
No sad funeral  knell.
Ah, heaven has been kind to those,
who part without farewell.

~  R. A. J.,  3/13/31

And, then, there was this next one… “What Men Call Life”.  Apparently he wrote it 49 years later…  on January 30th, 1980.  This was after he had his first open heart surgery, and while my grandmother was suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s.  It was the last entry in his journal.

What Men Call Life

Who knows but life
be that which men call death,
and death, what men call life.

I picture myself about to die.
I don’t want to leave, but my time
is up. My span completed.
I say goodbye, clinging a little
to those people I’ve loved
and enjoyed.

I fill my eyes for a last time
with the incredible colors
and beauty around me, and
I brace myself and begin
the struggle of letting go.

I feel the darkness sweep over me.
I am precipitated through a long, dark, tunnel
into a light that blinds me.
I cry out in protest
and hear a voice exclaim,
“It’s a boy, Mrs. J!
You’ve just  given birth
to a healthy boy!”,

and I have entered
what we call Life.

~ R.A.J., 1/30/80

I never knew he wrote poetry, or that he even liked to write, until after he passed away.  I don’t know why, but I was really surprised when I found out.  I guess, he never seemed “the type”.  (Lesson learned.) I do wish I had known,  and that he had known that I also loved to write.  Perhaps, we had more in common than we ever would have guessed?

Anyway – these 2 poems were found in his journal shortly after he passed away and I read them both together, at his funeral, many years ago, with much encouragement from my own father.  I really didn’t like the idea of getting up in front of everyone.  I also didn’t know if I could choke back the tears to do it at the time.

My father insisted, though.  Not on my actually reading them at the funeral, but that it would be something that my Pa (his father) would have liked if I could manage to do it. So…I did… and when I did, I remember really feeling these poems.  Somehow, reading them out loud in front of our family and friends made the words come to life for me. I could feel feel my grandfather’s presence and a connection with him, a new kind of connection, that went beyond his death.  These poems gave me some comfort…  and still do.  Maybe, they will for others…

I’m glad he left me these gifts…
Love you, Pa.
~ smj

That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine, Jim Reeves

(My Dad use to sing this song (Silver Hair Daddy) to me… and it was one of the many songs we would sing together when I was small… except, he always messed up the words, so, I learned it a little different…. ( ha! that is so like him *s*) …and now… I think of him, fondly, and his father (my Pa) as I listen to it… and wish I was hearing my Dad singing it instead, with the wrong words…)

*(originally posted first poem/part of this post on 12/12/2010, and was reminded of it recently and so I added 2nd poem and text, vid, and re-posted on 12/14/2011…)

15 Comments to ““Without Farewell” and “What Men Call Life””

  1. thank you so much for sharing that piece…

    beautiful poem.
    like most people, i understand leaving and loss
    better than i would like to.

  2. you’re very lucky to have these pieces of ones you’ve loved…

  3. Ya see, once again, poets who don’t know it…

    Well, you didn’t know it, but then not everything needs to be talked about, dissected and regurgitated; that shit’s for the folks that know about their paltry fate as writers..

  4. Those are awesome!!! Especially the second one. Death is almost like birth as it’s the start of your spiritual life. I believe he knew you wrote and I know he does now. My real grandfather died when my dad was young and don’t know much about him. Wish I knew more.

    • thanks… yes… I only knew one Grandfather… and he was a pretty cool dude – in a tough old goat kinda way… =)
      I wish I would’ve known him better than I did… but, am glad I had as much time with him as I did, at least…

  5. Hey girl,

    I can not thank you (and your grandfather) enough for these beautiful poems right now. I too, lost my grandfather just 3 days ago and actually I wrote a blog post about it yesterday: http://inwardsun.wordpress.com/2011/12/18/cheers-blend-with-tears/

    Somehow, these words filled in the blank spots, the empty thoughts I’ve been having. I hope your grandfather found relief in his own words, having portraited the spiritual journey of life/death in such a grand poem, the circle completed, what a way to go!

    Is it alright if I share your grandfather’s poem on my blog with a link to your site?

    Merry Christmas to you!

    • I’m sorry for your loss, & I’d be honored if you shared this… And think my grandfather would also like that. A dear friend of mine also just lost her grandfather… I thought u were her at first… but no. Your comment prompted me to share this with her too though… So thank you… And take care.

  6. happy christmas.

    this is probably not an appropiate video, but i’ve been a bit mesmerized by it.

  7. Charles – Thank you… and back atcha. And, yes, Bjork is quite mesmerizing, isn’t she? Thanks for sharing. =)

  8. These are really so special.

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