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A poem by Richard Howard, in his memory.

A witty, erudite writer in the mode of James Merrill, he was 92.


May 26 1969: The Grievance

No one dies. That is all we can say for certain.

Something dies us,

As it lived us. We are lived. And died.

A personal pronoun is superfluous here.

It is simple;

Our grammar of death must be revised.

And we are not reduced to tears, not reduced. The thing

Our tears are for

Extends us: we are widened to the term

Which lies beyond our tears. We are not reduced.



Fellow Philip Larkin fans might be reminded, on reading this poem, of these lines:

Life is first boredom, then fear.
Whether or not we use it, it goes,
And leaves what something hidden from us chose,   
And age, and then the only end of age.


More tersely, fellow Adam Phillips fans might simply quote this remark:

When people say, “I’m the kind of person who,” my heart always sinks.

Margaret Soltan, April 1, 2022 4:10PM
Posted in: poem

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