Robin Williams: Irrepressible Character

Robin Williams was one of the most explosively, exhaustingly, prodigiously verbal comedians who ever lived, says film critic A. O. Scott. And the only thing faster than Williams’s mouth was his mind.

Video CreditBy Adam Freelander on Publish Date August 12, 2014. Image CreditABC, via Associated Press

Some years ago, at a party at the Cannes Film Festival, I was leaning against a rail watching a fireworks display when I heard a familiar voice behind me. Or rather, at least a dozen voices, punctuating the offshore explosions with jokes, non sequiturs and off-the-wall pop-cultural, sexual and political references.

There was no need to turn around: The voices were not talking directly to me and they could not have belonged to anyone other than Robin Williams, who was extemporizing a monologue at least as pyrotechnically amazing as what was unfolding against the Mediterranean sky. I’m unable to recall the details now, but you can probably imagine the rapid-fire succession of accents and pitches — macho basso, squeaky girly, French, Spanish, African-American, human, animal and alien — entangling with curlicues of self-conscious commentary about the sheer ridiculousness of anyone trying to narrate explosions of colored gunpowder in real time.

The comedian and actor Robin Williams in 2002.

Very few people would try to upstage fireworks, and probably only Robin Williams could have succeeded. I doubt anyone asked him for his play-by-play, an impromptu performance for a small, captive group, and I can’t say if it arose from inspiration or compulsion. Maybe there’s not really a difference. Whether or not anyone expected him to be, and maybe whether or not he entirely wanted to be, he was on.

Part of the shock of his death on Monday came from the fact that he had been on — ubiquitous, self-reinventing, insistently present — for so long. On Twitter, mourners dated themselves with memories of the first time they had noticed him. For some it was the movie “Aladdin.” For others “Dead Poets Society” or “Mrs. Doubtfire.” I go back even further, to the “Mork and Mindy” television show and an album called “Reality — What a Concept” that blew my eighth-grade mind.

Back then, it was clear that Mr. Williams was one of the most explosively, exhaustingly, prodigiously verbal comedians who ever lived. The only thing faster than his mouth was his mind, which was capable of breathtaking leaps of free-associative absurdity. Janet Maslin, reviewing his standup act in 1979, cataloged a tumble of riffs that ranged from an impression of Jacques Cousteau to “an evangelist at the Disco Temple of Comedy,” to Truman Capote Jr. at “the Kindergarten of the Stars” (whatever that was). “He acts out the Reader’s Digest condensed version of ‘Roots,’ ” Ms. Maslin wrote, “which lasts 15 seconds in its entirety. He improvises a Shakespearean-sounding epic about the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster, playing all the parts himself, including Einstein’s ghost.” (That, or something like it, was a role he would reprise more than 20 years later in Steven Spielberg’s “A.I.”)

Photo

Robin Williams was an irrepressible performer, on stage and off. CreditGary Settle

Onstage, Mr. Williams’s speed allowed him to test audience responses and to edit and change direction on the fly. He simultaneously explained and acted out this process in “Come Inside My Mind,” a two-and-a-half-minute tour de force of manic meta — “I’m doing great! I’m improvising like crazy! No you’re not, you fool! You’re just doing pee-pee-ca-ca, no substance!” But if Mr. Williams was often self-aware, commenting on what he was doing as he was doing it, he was rarely arch or insincere. He could, as an actor, succumb to treacliness sometimes — maybe more than sometimes — but his essential persona as an entertainer combined neediness and generosity, intelligence and kindness, in ways that were charming and often unexpectedly moving as well.

That was a role within a role, of course, and Mr. Williams’s best serious movie characters — or maybe we should say the non-silly ones, since an element of playfulness was always there — had a similar doubleness. Watching him acting in earnest, you could not help but be aware of the exuberance, the mischief, that was being held in check, and you couldn’t help but wonder when, how or if it would burst out. That you knew what he was capable of made his feats of self-control all the more exciting. You sometimes felt that he was aware of this, and that he enjoyed the sheer improbability of appearing as the straight man, the heavy, the voice of reason.

He was very good at playing it cool or quiet or restrained as other actors in his movies — Nathan Lane in “The Birdcage,” Robert DeNiro in“Awakenings,” Matt Damon in “Good Will Hunting” — brought the heat, the noise or the wildness. He was an excellent and disciplined character actor, even as he was also an irrepressible, indelible character, a voice — or voices — that many of us have been hearing for as long as we can remember.

 

Robin Williams: the sadness of a clown that couldn’t be fixed

“Williams, like many others, struggled with addiction and personal demons. Mental illness is a great leveller – but is still too little understood.

All illness is a great leveller, but none levels like mental illness. It remains the poor relation of medicine. Research is paltry. Therapies are halfhearted. Drugs are primitive. But addictive and depressive illness seems to probe deep into the relations between individuals and those around them. It is the crack in the window that can seem beyond mending. The sadness of the clown goes beyond irony. It is one of the great mysteries of life”

THEGUARDIAN.COM|BY SIMON JENKINS

 

Simon Jenkins
Tuesday 12 August 2014

Actor-Comedian Robin Williams Dies At 63

Actor-Comedian Robin Williams Dies At 63
Robin Williams backstage in Virginia in 2009. ‘It seems inexplicable that a celebrity’s addiction should be immune to personal success, the care of a loving family and all the therapies money could buy.’ Photograph: Jay Paul/Getty Images

The sadness of the clown is an old showbusiness irony. The death of the clown is even sadder. But Robin Williams was no ordinary clown, he was a clown in the round, a master of the one-liner, of verbal riff, mimicry, disguise, facial distortion, fury and hilarity. He made them laugh and he made them cry. He had the gift of enhancing the lives of others, yet he could not handle one person’s life, his own. Only last month Williams was admitted back into a rehab centre in Minnesota.

Williams’ presumed suicide is receiving the same scrutiny as the recent deaths of other celebrity addicts such as Philip Seymour Hoffman and Peaches Geldof. Addictive substances appeared to be the way in which these well-known people coped with the pressure of life. In that, they are no different from thousands of non-celebrities subject to even greater pressure. Yet it seems inexplicable that their addiction should be immune to personal success, the care of a loving family and all the therapies money could buy.

Physical illness is something the medical profession understands. It knows what to do when the human body malfunctions and what not to do. Mental illness, if illness is the right word, seems lost in some dark age. Otherwise healthy people with every reason to be happy are found wrestling with private demons. Therapists wander the scene like surgeons on a medieval battlefield, at a loss for what to do.

Williams appeared to have recovered from cocaine addiction but not from alcohol. He had been in and out of rehabilitation. In a remarkably frank interview in the Guardian four years ago, he was eager to discuss his problems lucidly. He was a regular member of probably the most successful therapy in existence, Alcoholics Anonymous, with its emphasis on non-judgmental group support. There was no help that Williams and others like him could not and did not receive. It failed.

All illness is a great leveller, but none levels like mental illness. It remains the poor relation of medicine. Research is paltry. Therapies are halfhearted. Drugs are primitive. But addictive and depressive illness seems to probe deep into the relations between individuals and those around them. It is the crack in the window that can seem beyond mending. The sadness of the clown goes beyond irony. It is one of the great mysteries of life.

• In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 08457 90 90 90. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14

Some Comments and Opinions already posted on 8/12/14

Candice Black Robin Williams is proof of the complexity of the illness: the man smiled, laughed and could make millions happy- yet depression plagued his life. Any notion that depression is a case of being “miserable” should be thrown out the window by anyone who still holds that view.

Michael Olaf Engedahl Good bye dear man,who brought more laughter than tears ,but couldn’t find happiness for yourself,today you brought me tears cos I will never see your genius again.Rest in Peace

Joe Hargett “…that couldn’t be fixed.” I call bullshit. We could fix it if we wanted to, but time and again the major countries of the world have swept mental illness under the rug. Depression and other mental illnesses are not “silent killers” or “thieves in the night.” They stare us in the face daily, and we ignore them. We need acceptance and action, not platitudes and cliches.

Lizzie Soden Robin Jenkins. Although you are right about much of what you have written here, you have painted an almost nihilistic picture of therapies, drugs and resources available to help with depression. As someone who experiences depression, I can tell you there are some amazing insightful, positive Drs, psychotherapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses, who are not ‘wandering around aimlessly.’ There is no ‘one size fits all’ or one depressive episode that’s the same, but you get there through trial and error and different combinations. Yes, we need far more research and funding; yes we need to build understanding; yes we need to talk about it more in the public discourse, but you paint a picture that suggests anyone going through depression and addiction ‘ may as well give up now because you won’t get the help you need’ that’s simply not true. By far the majority of people recover and lead active lives, and learn to manage their depressive episodes.

Katya Hernández So much ignorance about depression. It is not about being thankful for what you have, or living in a good place, or having everything: it’s your brain not working properly, it’s a chemical imbalance, and it’s extremely hard to control. You often know that you have no reason to feel sad, but you still cry. Reasoning it out, when you are too deep into it, does not help. “Snap out of it” has to be the most ignorant, insensitive thing you can tell a depressed person. You would not tell that to a schizophrenic, and depression is just not something that you choose, it’s something that your brain does to you.

Brian Lucas “Outside, the day might be blue and gold, but the light that creeps down, through the thickly-muffled glass of the small, iron-barred window beneath which one sits, is grey and niggard.”

Oscar Wilde: “De Profundis”

 

Merita Debbie Marble Blanchet Did you know humor is a coping skill ? A mindset of the brain that helps us hang on.. Being serious is too hard for folks with a great sense of humor because tears lie very closely beneath that smile.. Never forget that We make the world laugh so we don’t have to think of how sad we truly are.

 

Chrystal Andros “Heard joke once: Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says, “But doctor…I am Pagliacci.”

Those of us who suffer from chronic depression understand this. For example with me I know that suicide can be inevtiable. It may not happen tomorrow, next week or even next month, but it’s with me and it may kill me at some point.

How do you treat something that comes and goes like bad weather? When it hits it’s a hurricane of twisting emotion.

I see a psychologist and I look at taking meds at the end, but I have been suffering it for a very long time. For now changing my mental state is what is helping.

 

Abigail Mouat Askew It’s part of what happens when our societal values go awry. I wonder how many indigenous tribes not exposed to Western culture have these levels of depression and addiction?

 

Jeremy Williams It annoys me when people say “snap out of it”, when i’m having a low mood, it’s not as simple as that, it’s a hidden illness, you don’t see it on the outside, but on the inside it slowly eats at you.

 

Harmony Aquarian

Three Wishes

You’re leaving on a super moon
But the details are still sketchy
The world is in a state of shock
The background story patchy

The last thing I expected to hear today
Was the news of your departure
And that your life was in disarray
It truly broke my heart, sir

I never cried when Elvis died,
He never touched me, really,
But Robin, you were another case
You were the King of Silly

The medicine of laughter
In world so full of pain
You meted out so selflessly
It all seems so insane

Perhaps we need to stop and think
About what is important
That life is rich when you have love
And though yours has been shortened

You touched our hearts and reached our souls
With no mention of religion
You made me smile so very many times
With a warmth that lacked conditions

The last thing I wanted to do today
Was to write this sad remembrance
But people come, and people go
In this endless song and dance

So here’s to life and here’s to hope
And here’s to fun and laughter
And thank you for the joy you brought
And if there’s a hereafter

I’m sure you will be needed there
As much as here on earth
Such a clever, brilliant man
An icon of infinite worth

So adios amigo
Happy trails and all of that
Life is short for all of us
But if I could bring you back

I’d have but two more wishes
For that genie in the bottle
That you’d have found peace inside yourself
And won that final battle

Kia ora HATU

 

Febe Zylstra  I have been there and hit rock bottom in 2011, and was diagnosed with Bi-polar Disorder. (They think the chemical imbalance in my brain was triggered from being pregnant, in hind sight that is when I noticed significant changes for me, but everyone has different extents/experiences from each other)
For me I was hospitalised twice over 4 months, underwent 12 ECTS, was put on a cocktail amount of drugs, most which caused severe side effects, counselling and psych Drs for the next 2 yrs. I was very fortunate to have a supportive family and friends who helped me through it unconditionally, but initially my loved ones often told me to ‘snap out of it’ OR ‘you’ll get over it’ was another frequent comment before they understood the seriousness of my disorder! I can now say I am doing heaps better after finding the right combination of drugs of which I have to take daily for the rest of my life and my art is also a huge part of me staying mentally healthy. But I did loose my unblemished career of 26 years unfairly because of my diagnosis (that’s another long story) and now have learnt to focus on staying stress free as much has I can to remain status quo.
So I do understood someone who has experienced severe crippling depression where some days you can’t even get out of bed, sleep 20 hours in a day, day in day out, you can’t eat and to go too the toilet is a huge effort! Where for 80% of the time you can’t stop crying and you honestly believe dying is the only way you will feel at peace and for the internal pain to go away. I was fortunate I had a daughter and family that even at the depth of my own depression I knew I couldn’t let down. Unfortunately Suicide is a huge risk with someone who has major depression or Bi-polar and unless someone has experienced this, it is extremely hard for someone to totally understand how someone can take their own life. I know it can be seen as a selfish act, but you can get to the point where you feel so worthless, hopeless and guilty about absolutely everything, and also honestly and deeply believe everyone would be better off without you. (It is not always attention seeking behaviour but often a cry for help as feeling there is no other way out of the darkness!) But mostly there is such an intense indescribable ache/ physical pain inside you that just doesn’t go away, which can’t be seen, unlike that of a broken bone! You eventually learn to crack a joke, give a smile, sometimes say what you think people want to hear but it is not always what you feel on the inside, it is a constant battle to stay positive, even now for me and I feel 100% better than I did at my lowest point.
I have chosen not to hide behind my Bi-polar diagnosis as it is the only way to help break down the stigma attached to it and that of all mental illnesses. I hope that people who know me already or get to know me, will see that I am not a ‘Nutter’ OR ‘Aggressive Crazy Person’ running around committing crimes or causing havoc. A lot of people’s fears of the person who has mental health issues are given the wrong impression from TV shows, especially Criminal TV shows that always seem to portray the mental health person in a negative light. Fact is 1 in 5 people in their own life time will experience depression and for most people they will know someone close to them who goes through it.
It’s OK to feel unsure or helpless when you come across a person going through depression etc, but if everyone try’s to understand just a little bit of what that persons obstacles are when they are not well, it will help break down the barriers/stigmas and hopefully more people with depression etc will feel more supported and not so isolated! Just by asking are you OK or offer to listen to them could make all the difference.
Sorry for the long winded rant – but it breaks my heart that someone we all knew to be the funny man who always put on a happy face suffered his whole life with major depression. He hid it well as do a lot of people with severe depression – sometimes the support and help comes too late! RIP Robbin Williams x

Margie Winter And mental health wards are being closed at an alarming rate. Governments have found out that pushing patients out into Care in the Community, they save lots if money! They never publish the suicide rate though!! I suspect it’s higher now than 20 years ago. Alcohol – the medicine of choice for many depressives . So, so sad. RIP Robin.

Alen Kevric He was broken but it is not him that needed to be fixed. It is society that needs to be fixed. RIP

Tim Dixon All we can do is love, I mean really love those in our lives suffering from this, they are are serious, it IS real…..

Alexandra Nielsen Well said, Katya Hernandez…a person cannot snap out of true depression any more than someone can snap out of diabetes. It’s not the same thing as feeling a little down. The brain chemistry changes and there is no way to snap out of it when you are in it. If you think there is, then you have never experienced the hell of depression.

Sam Bino How many of us go out into the world wearing a mask, a disguise, to hide from the world our true selves, how many of us intimately know ourselves are confident to accept ourselves for who we are regardless of the pressure from society to seek it’s ‘approval’

With all of the modern day distractions that occupy our time and fill our minds with junk, with all the choices and dilemmas we face on a daily basis that paralyze us, how do people stand a chance to manage their mental well-being as it becomes buried further and further amidst the rubble of living.

To truly be yourself is to free yourself but this takes time, committment, courage and many other basic needs being in place, and even then this can still be so far out of reach such are the complexities of our minds.

To everyone on this journey, I wish you well with love and compassion.

Lara Naylor Davis Colin, what utter tripe. I have been saved and transformed by medication and therapy. I lived a long time in the darkness with no way out until I was first referred to my psychiatrist 7 years ago. He then placed me in Cognitive Analytical Therapy which helped me gain insight and balance. I think every individual needs to find their own way but therapy and psychopharmesuticals, eventually, worked for me. In the first 6 years of diagnosis I was on a total of five different meds, six times. I didn’t throw the baby out with the bath water, I kept plugging away til I found what worked. Looks like I may also have treatment resistant depression as I keep bottoming out on pills. But I keeping looking because I know how catastrophic my life is without them.

Katya Hernández I agree. I can safely say that medication saved my life.

Russ Collins What crap is that about jesus?? an imaginary dead man who was supposed to have lived 2000 years ago of whom there is no evidence of. yeah! I’m sure a man of intellectual genius as such as williams would have given the remotest crap about that

Karen Hoyles It doesn’t take long before b’jesus turns up – any old topic will do.

Mel Myrtle Horstink I just have silent tears running down my face, I have done since I heard. I wish this weren’t true but it is. RIP you funny, gentle, sad man

Julie Allen I can totally relate to this my husband been battling mental illness for years , but doctors just hand him the pils with very little therapy, and support as though its his own fault, so we as a family have to cope with his mood swings on a daily basis, and my husband is a loving man underneath it all , RIP Robin xx

 

Allison Taw hope your not lonely now x RIP

 

Alwyn Green It’s difficult for those who have not experienced depression to understand it. I thank God I had a wife and several colleagues who did understand and supported me.

James David Roberts It’s been such a sad day. I would have hoped that at 63, Robin Williams would have had the “bag of tricks”, the “coping strategies” to deal with his illness. His death makes me realize how vulnerable people are with this diseases.

Edde Beket Robin Williams wasn’t a clown – I hate clowns. He was brilliant, inspiring and a legend. RIP

Cathy Dalton I think that many brilliant people fell that they have to become ‘clowns’ in order to be accepted. It’s the ultimate irony.

Sophie Wintrich Too much taboo on the subject as well, still, sadly. Perhaps mostly from people who deny such issues and desperately try to cover up in other ways. There are ways out, or at least coping strategies, provided you feel you can talk without being judged or criticized. Being able to voice your feelings is half the battle. Don’t bottle it. Big virtual hug to all.

Sam Bino When will God botherers learn that many many people find these views offensive and without any relevance. I’m happy that you have found your own path and truth but it isn’t mine so please keep it to yourselves.
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Wallace Rachel Many of us with a strong belief on God find God botherers irritating as hell too!
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Sharon Moon

Lara Naylor Brett I can’t bw. I have servere anxiety, servere depression and BPD. All of this is in my make up and can’t be cured, it can be controlled and I have spent four snd a half years symptom free only to crash and burn catastrophically agaiin about three …See More
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Jen Peloquin Oddie Agree with so many people who have commented here today.
So complex is this disease…that such a gifted artist and selfless human being continued to struggle in his later years. May he RIP because he’s done the hard yards for sure.
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Idalina Melo It’s very harsh to live your live as an empathic in an un-empathic world, it’s the ill society that leads to mental illness of good souls!!
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Cindy Schneider Mental health care came out of the dark ages when Mennonites did public service instead of going to war in the 40’s…..it went back to the dark ages when Ronald Reagan dumped them into the streets….now mental health care has another name….the prison system. Maybe Robin has one last gift to give us…awareness.
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Dorothy Bogart I was once a very depressed person ,was in my own world and never want to see people or mingle . In fact i was always hiding and it felt as if everybody was against me and i was so far that i almost run away from home. It was something bad that happened to me and i was sorry for an excuse. I always knew that i need serious help and my children kept me sane. I had a DR that treated me with steroids on a monthly basis. It changed my whole body structure,softness is gone and i was strong and still depressed. I went to a different dr and in the surgery i found this book of a depressed person fighting with this dark cloud around her and then i saw me. Its exactly how i feel. I got up and walk out and went home. Since then i understand my illness and everytime i feel depressed i see this d cloud surounds me and i started to climb out and thats how i got healed. Its nothing to try do it. Depression is a very bad thing..

Jane Donaghy What comes first…the addiction or the mental illness….another great lost who tried his best to overcome & couldn’t.

James Turner Robin Williams, Phillip Seymour Hoffman … And Peaches Geldof?!?!?!? I know it seems natural to list in 3s rather than 2s.. But Peaches fucking Geldof??? How about WW1, WW2 and that time down the pub someone hit someone else? Fucking ludicrous

 

Mark Sykes Why not Peaches Geldof? Why not highlight anyone who was in the public eye who struggled with mental illness – who are you to judge the validity of someones illness? The more that the world knows that even famous and fabulously wealthy individuals can find it incredibly difficult to live a ‘normal’ life, then the better the world can become!

Ce-Ce Ushe He made many people smile when he was ‘high ‘on coccaine .those who take coccaine never have a happy ending,Peaches , Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson etc..

Jay Harper Again with this simplistic statement? Bless you, you just aren’t that bright.

Stephen Bosworth Wow , all these people seem to know why he topped himself. Such a clever bunch.

Jörg Killat Why is it that all great comedians seem to suffer from depression. Is it because of that that they’re great? Is it their way of trying to combat their demons?

Rosalind Mercer The one thing none of us can do, not even the greatest psychiatrist who ever lived, is to literally get into the mind of another. Oh, yes we think we can understand but depression or indeed any type of mental illness is individual and personal to the sufferer. There are two types of depression: reactive and clinical, and inevitably one can lead to the other. Many women after giving birth will get PND, but that usually can be cured as it is caused by hormonal changes. It is illogical to be depressed after having had a baby, but logic has nothing to do with it. Some women feel like hell for a few weeks or even months.
Life’s setback can also cause depression, especially if those setbacks are man-made like a family relationship breaking down, or losing somebody very close but they are reactive. The more setbacks one has, the more likely then that the reactive will turn to clinical because the brain cannot take anymore stress, and then the real unhappiness sets in and medical help is the only way forward. I know nothing of Robin Williams’s life, other than what little I have read, but I suspect like may unhappy people the drugs and alcohol would have exacerbated his depression. To live with a person who suffers deep depression is a horrible experience because you feel helpless. No wonder his poor wife is heartbroken. We cannot judge, or condemn, and evoking the supernatural e.g.”God’ is not at all helpful. All we can do is to support the families or friends of sufferers, and try to be tolerant, which is not always easy.

Liz Munro So sad. A wonderful man taken by a dreadful illness.

Guguyni Slan every suicide is a question to the humans alive , a message to the people alive we have to learn more humanity compassion and empathy to other humans and to the earth we live with . there is always a way .

Robyn Evans It’s like cancer.

Tracey Bourke So very sad to have heard the news after getting off a long haul flight. I absolutely loved Robin Williams. He made me laugh & Cry. He had a beautiful way of portraying all of his movie characters funny, sad, etc…… He was a wonderful soul and brought out every emotion in me through the characters he played so well on TV and in his movies. I will watch a few of his movies this week in his honour.
RIP and thank you for sharing your wonderful and talented life with us.
You will be missed worldwide. My boys will be watching Mrs Doubtfire this weekend. X

Aleli Gomez Es tan raro como no debes de demostrar tu tristeza para poder seguir encajando en este mundo q es el q te puso triste para comenzar aww
See Translation

Robin Waka robin williams not dead shocking video of his house in the link beside

http://v4download.com/download2.php?title=

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Seblewongel Mekonnen Wolde It is possible to b free from any type of mental sickness, depression etc, even from the family line forever: who said it is impossible? it is possible to b free from it. This 2014, not 19th century: there is a solution. There is a new hope for it.
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Farhat Rasheed This world is a test for the pure soul. Only a belief in a loving, just and complete God and a beautiful next life for a perfected morality, whatever that is, is what keep’s ‘people’ alive — this is the truth I believe in. Both mental and physical illness is interlinked but physical illness is more understood because it is ‘physical’ i.e can be touched/seen/held – fixed? The mind is pure consciousness – aware of so much, and the primary way, in which the heart is torn from ideas that take it away from a perfection ‘somewhere’ or take away the ‘hope’ of it all meaning something, and giving purpose to even suffering. If you don’t beleive in an eternal afterlife of levelling off the hardships of this life- you might as well, throw in the towel as soon as you’re born. Many gifted children already ‘know’ we are here transiently– ie. we do not belong here, but in a greater place…whatever you wish to call this – most call it heaven.

Katharine Oliver Sarah Casaneanu

Rebecca Parsley RIP man.. We love you and hope you’re not lonely now

Margaret Spillane It’s true; mental illness is woefully under-funded. There is still too much of the pull yourself together mentality.

Carrie McCarthy Febe Zylstra you might like this xx

Peter Humfrey His death is desperately sad but hopefully it will bring more understanding and cast off the stereotypes people have for sufferers of depression.

Ce-Ce Ushe No matter how many friends ,family, money u can have and surrounded by many people u can die all alone and lonely.

Judge Mental Depression is a slow thief on a long, long night.

 

Tom Broadhurst If you analyse the inherent absurdity of living, some people as a result of that deeply analytical process are going to arrive at a full stop

Sonia Finch when you are a bright light everyone wants a chunk of you. whats left feels soul loss. time to take back your light robin.

Debra Griffin Truehope.com sells EM power plus vitamins that are effective for depression. They saved my son.

Jane Whitmore When some one has to be the main person to make people laugh and have a good time, one day this illness sets in and there never that person they used to be. Such a shame to take your own life but demons talk to u and u forget what the real world is about. Never judge on people who suffers this illness as you never no it could happen to u. Xxx rip

Emma Elizabeth Bogue Febe Zylstra your story and how you wrote it was really powerful. I completely agree, it is easier to place a bandaid on a physical injury than to attempt to do the same with someone suffering deep inside. Please continue to advocate for those with mental illness as gracefully as you just have. Individuals like you will break down the stigma+ will be the making of new interventions. Thank you for sharing you’re story
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今井賢二 高志>『いいね!』? でも、文章の意味が解らない?
意味わかったよ!!!
See Translation

James Warriner Total shock…very sad loss

Muhammad Nadeem Aslam may his soul in peace

Pablo Molina Petrovich Will we ever be able to watch his wonderful movie roles without seeing “the tears in his eyes”? Actually, I hope not, lest we forget we are all vulnerable, in need of each other’s support and care.

Guguyni Slan https://scontent-b-ams.xx.fbcdn.net/…/10391419…

Stephanie Lillian Fletcher I’m African, and not only am I a depressant, I have Bipolar and borderline personality disorder due to trauma. NO ONE is exempt when mental illness strikes. Medication does help, but all mess have bad side effects…. One being weight gain which in turn makes you depressed and causes self loathing due to malicious outbursts from trolls or comments from general public. You are either fat and semi sane or feel good about yourself but depressed about life… it’s just really hard, talking to someone definitely helps. It’s an ongoing condition that needs constant nurturing… many of us hide behind smiles and laughter, if only people could recognize the turmoil within our eyes… RIP RW

 

Phil Brown Ive been a mental health nurse 30 years…twice while driving over The Tyne Bridge …3/32010 and 17/12/2013 ive pulled someone back from the Edge or talked another person down.

Ive acted quickly…each time the person was “very dissociated”
I have to say that as much as the kind sincere and compassionate words are meanindful
WE HAVE TO BECOME “MINDFULL”…BUT MORE THAN ANYTHING WE ALL HAVE TO REMAIN …”ASSOCIATED AND IN RELATIONSHIP WITH ONE ANOTHER”
Unfortunately….despite some of the benefits of social media…
It DANGEROUSLY REMAINS
……..DISSOCIATIVE.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Margaret Inglese Just a thought from one who knows it took me 25 years to get on the right meds. Doctor after doctor just took that prescription pad out and keep prescribing the same drugs over and over. Thought process is that your therapist should be talking to you. Good luck with that one. My doc listened and helped me realize what was the problem. Right meds taken consistently are the answer. You can’t self medicate
Like · Reply · 39 mins

Michelle Pitkin So sad, such a waste. What empathic words in this article

Glenda Bogdanovs Research and treatment of mental illness is both under funded and disrespected

Guguyni Slan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RbY2iTOUQA

Guguyni Slan http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQU3EphIpMY

 

Malika Bouamama Invisible disability

 

Cubey G Funk https://www.google.co.za/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j…

 

Michelle Ho The saddest person in the world is a clown. It’s hard enough making people laugh & be happy. It’s even harder to make oneself  happy

 

Arash Zarchini https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10202542680156747…

Cemil Bikmen Cok dogru fakat sahsi fizik ve mental olarak tanima gayreti gosteren isin zorlugunu inkar etmiyen yakin takip ve oz veri gosteren bir psikiatrist yuz sene onceye gore cok daha fazla yardim etme kabiliyetinde.

Angela Lewis RIP Captain My Captain

 

Jack Vanderwyk Bipolarity seldom comes alone.  Many bipolar people also suffer from other diseases, like alcohol and/or drug addictions.  Controlling the one doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re able to control the other.

 

Cathy Dalton The addictions are the results of trying to self-medicate, to ease the pain….but they are a vicious circle, a downward spiral.

 

Brett Hunter i beg do differ so people cant be fixed? I dont know ? But i wish and hope, so it doesn,t happen to someones sister, my cousin, like me because we have to live for a life time and maybe when times up then maybe we know, but yet asking un answered questions for a life time doesn,t seem fair

 

Marlene Rapich Balanda DAMN THE DARKNESS..

 

Russ Collins know how he feels, I’ll Probably do the same one day

Yul Villanueva Mendoza Guess needed Jesus in his life, could have helped Money isn’t happiness
Like · Reply · 2 hrs

Leighan Harkess Yeah the whole religion thing is working wonders in the world right now..
Like · 3 · 2 hrs
Sharon Moon

Mustafa Mahmoud He was awesome , but still sad deep inside , unfortunately he did not find a good friend like Robin Williams to fix his sorrow
Like · Reply · 2 hrs

Chethan Bvb we are all save of our brain not mind, it proved mr wiiliams depression is dangerous sickness
Like · Reply · 2 hrs

Jan McFarlane Such a sad day
Like · Reply · 2 hrs · Edited

Michael Bender Sagt alles zum Thema Depression.
See Translation
Like · Reply · 2 hrs

Nigel Richards Tears of a clown, when there’s no one around…
Like · Reply · 2 hrs

Hamxa Siddique DAnish FArooq
Like · Reply · 3 hrs

Eve Alexander Ian Johnson
Like · Reply · 3 hrs

Amanda Elizabeth Lennon Curious to learn whether or not he had recently been put on the sometimes suicide-provoking Efexor-XR anti-dep …
Like · Reply · 3 hrs

Celina Stott
Like · Reply · 3 hrs

Ma’aly Al-Marhoon RIP
Like · Reply · 3 hrs

David Wheeler RIP Robin no words can explain how much your humour and yourself will be missed by all.God bless you.
Like · Reply · 3 hrs

Теди От Наречен https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_huc9In5qY
Like · Reply · 3 hrs

Zeny Competente Sanchez
Like · Reply · 3 hrs

Explicações de Inglês So So so very true … and sad so sad.
Thank you Mr Robin Williams for having given me and others the privilege and joy of having such great actor during my life time.
May you be happier now.
Nevertheless, I’m so sad, leaving us so much before your time and yet so much to offer still.
U
Like · Reply · 3 hrs · Edited

Traci Sherlock Henrietta Wochnowski
Like · Reply · 3 hrs

Carolyne Awino May his soul rest in peace
Like · Reply · 3 hrs

Dewan Abdur Rob Raiyan
Like · Reply · 3 hrs

Leah Murphy Yes, as it says, the drugs are primitive
Like · Reply · 3 hrs

Emilios Koromias Legend!
Like · Reply · 3 hrs

John Mason its called life, he had one, he was on quite a different level.
Like · Reply · 3 hrs

Eslam Voice https://fbcdn-sphotos-b-a.akamaihd.net/…/16010…
Like · Reply · 3 hrs

David Edge Both his family and the world loses a great man!

http://www.healthyplace.com/…/immediate-relief-of…/

Like · Reply · 3 hrs

Deniz Helvacıoğlu RIP !
Like · Reply · 3 hrs

Elcio Da Silveira Machado https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3kJ0nA6gNw
Like · Reply · 3 hrs

Daouda Amirou Ganaba RIP ROBBIE
Like · Reply · 3 hrs

Thomas Deeds RIP Robin.
Like · Reply · 3 hrs

Antoaneta Naydenova RIP
Like · Reply · 3 hrs

Sophie Louise Kirkham Shaun
Like · Reply · 3 hrs

Kenny Given Rest In Peace and thanks for the laughter and great films!….

Some people are just too good for this world!
Like · Reply · 1 · 2 hrs

Allysha Nila clown?
Like · Reply · 1 · 3 hrs

Alan Willott Depression , the black hole of despair.?A tragic loss to his family Friends and the World of ENTERTAINMENT ? Robin will be missed by so many. R.I.P.
Like · Reply · 1 · 2 hrs

Dolly Nedeva I dont think its you business to comment his illness.
Like · Reply · 1 · 2 hrs

Yves-Henri Morvan It could be. On my point of view. But it’s just my point of view.
Like · Reply · 21 mins

Tris Tan The man looked very unhappy, I doubt I’m the only one who saw that. Or maybe I’m just crazy.
Like · Reply · 29 mins

Phillip Keane Maybe wait for the coroner’s report, eh? you fucking ghouls.
Like · Reply · 39 mins

Kate Burton Love you Robin Williams. We will miss you.

Like · Reply · 45 mins

Freeman Jackson Divorce, Bankruptcy, and Drinking. What a deadly combination!
Like · Reply · 1 hr

Daniel Salvia Absolutely true …!
Like · Reply · 1 hr

Iain Morrison Leighan…someone else who doesn’t understand what motivates those people. Religion isn’t the issue. Power and greed ARE!
Like · Reply · 1 hr

Debra Grace Peri What a half hearted article, of which I can’t take seriously in light of the truth.
Like · Reply · 1 hr

Tatheer Faiq RIP Robin Williams . It is very hard for me to believe someone living away from all the horrors of Middle East can suffer from depression and chose to end his life. Not to mention that he has fame and wealth. So sad!
Like · Reply · 2 hrs

Eslam Voice https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage…
Like · Reply · 2 hrs

Nikolai Jimmy Virtanen There is a point seeming idea that psychology and filosefee…is that You wan’t To know how does other People feel,Maybe You Can Never win the Trust.That both Are opstical science.😇😈
Like · Reply · 3 hrs

Keith Hancock Such a terrible loss http://www.saigondistricts.com/2014/08/robin-williams/
Like · Reply · 3 hrs

Violacolor Futura Tremila rip my captain
Like · Reply · 40 mins

Trev Coleman All illness is a great leveller, but none levels like mental illness. It remains the poor relation of medicine. Research is paltry. Therapies are halfhearted. Drugs are primitive.

i would disagree with that statement. there’s load of studies taking place on things like psilocybin, DMT, LSD, etc in treating depression. what there is, is a lack of will to use the sort of remedies that are turning people’s lives around in a matter of hours rather than making them go through years of torturous medications and mind numbing analysis that just prolongs the whole process.
while i’m just as gutted as everyone else at the loss of one of my greatest tv and movie idols, one of the staples of my youth, we should take this opportunity to start looking beyond conventional health care and start looking at the alternatives.
RIP. genie, you’re free.

http://reset.me/video/how-psychedelics-are-saving-lives/

Like · Reply · 50 mins

Rob Byrne I’m not going out on a limb here to suggest he had a manic, albeit wonderful and enjoyable personality. Somehow, he seemed in control of his ups and downs and I think that’s why it was such a surprise. In retrospect, I suppose the altitudes of his highs had to be matched by some incredible depths. Such a sad loss.
Like · Reply · 2 hrs

Darwin Ruan SHOCKING !!!
What a brutal genocide !!!
They killed 50.000 – 60.000 people for their organs and sell it to the World.
Is must be stopped !!!

http://beforeitsnews.com/…/shocking-truth-exclusive…

Like · Reply · 8 mins

Ada M. Ene sad news
Like · Reply · 2 hrs

Clau Schwa That’s an unfortunate headline.
Like · Reply · 2 hrs

Sandra Shevey Did he pay his Hamas subscription tell Cruz to go away???? Not PC Robbie.
Like · Reply · 2 hrs

Sandra Shevey They are now saying `alleged` suicide. Murder??
Like · Reply · 2 hrs

Rumana Asif Zara Serpent
Like · Reply · 3 hrs

Rumana Asif Sam Chaudhri
Like · Reply · 3 hrs

Rumana Asif Jason Manford.
Like · Reply · 3 hrs

True Manchester United fans “I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone.”

- Robin Williams as Lance Clayton in World’s Greatest Dad (2009)
Like · Reply · 47 · 3 hrs

Sandie Fox Never a truer word said
Like · 3 · 3 hrs

Shu Her Journalists should take time to think before writing about a subject like this.
Like · 2 · 3 hrs

16 Of The Most Magnificent Trees In The World

How do I love thee, tree? Let me count the ways; you change carbon dioxide into the oxygen we breathe, you sequester carbon, and you provide shelter for countless critters. There are many reasons for which we should all be tree-hugging hippies, but within the scope of this article, all we’ll focus on is how amazing some of them look.

Granted, not all of these amazing beautiful trees are trees (the Wisteria is a vine, Rhododendrons are shrubs, and bamboo technically belongs to the grass family), but we’ll give them a pass because they are amazing, huge and beautiful. So once you step outside and take a breath of fresh air, hug the nearest tree and say thank you!

125+ Year Old Rhododendron “Tree” In Canada
amazing-trees-rhodo

This huge 125-year-oldold rhododendron is technically not a tree – most are considered to be shrubs. You can find out more about it here.

144-Year-Old Wisteria In Japan
amazing-trees-wisteria

At 1,990 square meters (about half an acre), this huge wisteria is the largest of its kind in Japan. Read more about it here.

Wind-Swept Trees In New Zealand
amazing-trees-new zealand jpg
These trees on Slope Point, the southern tip of New Zealand, grow at an angle because they’re constantly buffeted by extreme antarctic winds. Find out more here. (Image credits: Seabird Nz)

Beautiful Japanese Maple In Portland, Oregon

amazing-trees-japanese maple portland

Antarctic Beech Draped In Hanging Moss In Oregon

amazing-trees-antartic beech

The antarctic beech is native to Chile and Argentina, though this specimen is from the U.S.’ North Pacific region. (Image credits: Drew Hopper)

Blooming Cherry Trees in Bonn, Germany

amazing-trees cherry blossoms bonn-2

This beautiful tunnel of cherry blossoms blooms in Bonn, Germany in April.

Angel Oak In John’s Island In South Carolina

amazing-trees-angel oal st. john's island sc

The Angel Oak in South Carolina stands 66.5 ft (20 m) tall and is estimated to be more than 1400 or 1500 years old.

Flamboyant Tree, Brazil

amazing-trees-flamboyant brazil

The flamboyant tree is endemic to Madagascar, but it grows in tropical areas around the world.

Dragonblood Trees, Yemen

amazing-trees-dragonblood yemen

The dragonblood tree earned its fearsome name due to its crimson red sap, which is used as a dye and was used as a violin varnish, an alchemical ignredient, and a folk remedy for various ailments. (Image credits: Csilla Zelko)

The President, Third-Largest Giant Sequoia Tree In The World, California

amazing-trees-giant sequioa

President, located in Sequoia National Park in California, stands 241 ft (73m) tall and has a ground circumference of 93 ft (28m). It is the third largest giant sequoia in the world (second if you count its branches in addition to its trunk).

Maple Tree Tunnel in Oregon

amazing-trees-maple tree tunnel oregon

Rainbow Eucalyptus In Kauai, Hawaii

amazing-trees-eucalyptusjpg

The rainbow eucalyptus, which grows throughout the South Pacific, is both useful and beautiful. It is prized for both the colorful patches left by its shedding bark and for its pulpwood, which is used to make paper.

Jacarandas in Cullinan, South Africa

amazing-trees-Jacarandas in Cullinan, South Africa

These beautiful Jacarandas, with their violet flowers, grow in South Africa.

Avenue Of Oaks At Dixie Plantation In South Carolina

amazing-trees-Avenue Of Oaks At Dixie Plantation In South Carolina

This avenue of oak trees was planted some time in the 1790s on Dixie Plantation in South Carolina.

Baobab Trees In Madagascar

amazing-trees-Baobab Trees In Madagascar

These baobabs in Madagascar are excellent at storing water in their thick trunks to use during droughts.

The Dark Hedges In Northern Ireland

amazing-trees-dark hedges game of thrones ireland

Ireland’s Dark Hedges were planted in the 18th century. This stunning beech tree tunnel was featured on Game of Thrones as well.

See original article for list of photo credits.

kelvin van nuys

Van Nuys, Kelvin

September 04, 2013 3:00 am • By Ava Henrickson(0) Signatures
RAPID CITY | Kelvin Van Nuys, 99, a long-time resident of Rapid City, died Monday, Sept. 2, 2013, at the home of his daughter.

He was born June 13, 1914, in Rapid City to Claude and Laura (Bower) Van Nuys. The family moved to Cranford, New Jersey, where he graduated from high school in 1932. Kelvin continued his education at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, receiving a BA degree in psychology in 1936. He received a masters degree in religious education from Union Theological Seminary in 1943 and a Masters of Divinity in 1944. He received a PhD in philosophy in 1949 from Columbia University in New York City.

Kelvin began his teaching career as a professor of humanities at Long Island University in 1944. He subsequently took a position as professor of religion and philosophy at Moravian College, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he met Rena Levander, an English instructor. They were married on June 8, 1952, in Kingwood Community, Frenchtown, New Jersey.

Soon after their marriage, the couple moved to Whittier, California, where he joined the faculty of Whittier College. A daughter, Laura Regina, was born in 1954, and a son, James Maxwell, was born in 1955. In 1956, the family moved to western South Dakota, where Kelvin’s mother and many of his relatives pioneered in the late 1880s. Kelvin took up the post of professor of philosophy and humanities at South Dakota School of Mines. A third son, Frank Whitehead, was born in Rapid City in 1961. The family moved to Wilmington, Ohio, in 1963, where both Kelvin and Rena taught at Wilmington College, a small Quaker liberal arts college. After Kelvin’s retirement in 1979, they returned to Rapid City.

Kelvin was the author of three books, “Science and Cosmic Purpose,” published in 1947; “Is Reality Meaningful?” published in 1963; and “A Holist Pilgrimage,” published in 1980.

He was an accomplished man who pursued a wide range of interests throughout his life. As a young boy, he traveled by train from New Jersey to South Dakota to spend summers on his aunts’ ranches, experiences which instilled a lifelong love of trains and western South Dakota. Kelvin knew most of the country’s train routes by heart and traveled most of the country by rail at one time or another during his long life, including a final Amtrak trip from Denver to San Francisco and back in 2012.

Kelvin was a lifelong amateur musician, who played the piano and composed music in the classical style. A number of his compositions were recorded on CD by James Macinnes in 2001. He enjoyed working on plate tectonics and various other geological problems in his retirement years. He also was an amateur oil painter and particularly loved to paint sunsets.

Kelvin was a member of the American Philosophical Association, the Center for Process Studies, and the Religious Society of Friends; and in Rapid City, the Rapid City Friends Meeting, the AAUW Dinner Discussion Group, the Herbert Weiss Philosophy Club, and the ROMEOS (Retired Old Men Eating Out).

Kelvin’s wife of 59 years, Rena, died in 2011. He is survived by his children, Laura and Art Tonkyn and their son Jeffrey, Nemo; James Van Nuys and his children, Callan and Cole, Rapid City; and Frank and Janet Van Nuys and their daughter, Maya, Rapid City. He is also survived by his brother, Maxwell Van Nuys, Denver.

A memorial service will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, at Behrens-Wilson Funeral Home, under the care of the Rapid City Friends Meeting. Inturnment will be at Mountain View Cemetery, Rapid City.

rena van nuys

Rena Van Nuys, 89, a longtime resident of Rapid City, died October 2, 2011, at the Victorian. She was born to Frank and Regina Levander in New York City on November 15, 1921. After graduation from Friends Academy, Locust Valley, Long Island, she attended Swarthmore College in 1939, graduating with honors with a double major in history and literature in 1943. She continued her education at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., receiving a master’s degree in 1949.

Rena began a lifetime of teaching, both college and high school, as an instructor at Moravian College, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She met Kelvin Van Nuys, a professor of religion and philosophy, at the school and they were married on June 8, 1952, at Kingwood Community, Frenchtown, New Jersey, under the care of the Religious Society of Friends.

Soon after their marriage, the young couple moved to Whittier, California, where a daughter, Laura Regina, was born in 1954. A son, James Maxwell, was born in 1955. In 1956, the family moved to western South Dakota, where Kelvin’s mother and many of his relatives pioneered in the late 1880s. Kelvin took up the post of professor of philosophy and humanities at South Dakota School of Mines. A second son, Frank Whitehead, was born in Rapid City in 1961.

The family moved to Wilmington, Ohio, in 1963, where both Kelvin and Rena taught at Wilmington College, a small Quaker liberal arts college. Upon Kelvin’s retirement in 1979, they returned to Rapid City and have lived here since.

During her retirement, Rena served for many years as education director and clerk at Dakota Art Gallery, located in Dahl Arts Center. Rena also shared her love of art with many area schoolchildren, volunteering at Robbinsdale Elementary School to teach art appreciation and drawing to third grade classes. Rena was honored as Citizen of the Month for her volunteer work in the schools. In 2003, she was honored as an educator and benefactor by the Rushmore Cultural Affairs Committee of the Rapid City Area Chamber of Commerce.

Rena had a wide network of friends and was active in many organizations. She was a member of the Rapid City Friends Meeting, the AAUW dinner discussion group, a board member of Dakota Artists Guild, and a member of the Current Events Club and the Herbert Weisz Philosophy Club.

Rena is survived by her husband of 59 years, Kelvin; her children, Laura and Art Tonkyn and their son, Jeffrey, Nemo; James Van Nuys and his children, Callan and Cole, Rapid City; and Frank and Janet Van Nuys and their daughter, Maya, Rapid City. She is also survived by a brother-in-law, Maxwell Van Nuys, Denver.

TOP TEN WAR POEMS

Jon Stallworthy

This week marks a century since the outbreak of the first world war. Chosen from 1,000 years of English writing about war, poet and Oxford professor Jon Stallworthy selects some of the best attempts to think through this most extreme of human experiences.

War memorial
Celebration and lament … the war memorial at Shildon, near Sedgefield. Photograph: John Giles/PA

“Poetry,” Wordsworth reminds us, “is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings”, and there can be no area of human experience that has generated a wider range of powerful feelings than war: hope and fear; exhilaration and humiliation; hatred – not only for the enemy, but also for generals, politicians, and war-profiteers; love – for fellow soldiers, for women and children left behind, for country (often) and cause (occasionally).

Man’s early war-songs and love-songs were generally exhortations to action, or celebrations of action, in one or other field, but no such similarity exists between what we now more broadly define as love poetry and war poetry. Whereas most love poems have been in favour of love, much – and most recent – war poetry has been implicitly, if not explicitly, anti-war. So long as warrior met warrior in equal combat with sword or lance, poets could celebrate their courage and chivalry, but as technology put ever-increasing distance between combatants and, then, ceased to distinguish between combatant and civilian, poets more and more responded to “man’s inhumanity to man”. I have chosen poems from both the old “heroic” and the modern “humane” traditions. With so many fine poems to choose from, on another day I might have selected another team.

1. The Battle of Maldon (Anonymous)

An early battle poem written in Old English, this gives a vivid and poignant account of the last stand of Anglo-Saxon warriors against a troop of Viking invaders, and includes a classic articulation of the heroic code.

BRITHNOTH DECIDES TO FIGHT

Then he ordered each of his warriors his horse to loose
Far off to send it and forth to go,
To be mindful of his hands and of his high heart.
Then did Offa’s Kinsman first know
That the earl would not brook cowardice,
Loosed he from his hands his darling to fly,
His Hawk to the wood, and to the battle strode.
From that one could tell that the chieftain would never
Weaken in the warfare – when he his weapons seized.
And after him Edric chose his chief to follow,
His friend in the fight – then ‘gan he forth to bear
The spear to the strife – high spirit had he,
So long as he with his hands to hold was able
His buckler and broadsword; his boast he fulfilled
That he by his friend’s side should fight.

BRITHNOTH PREPARES HIS ARRAY

Then did Brithnoth begin his men to bestow -
He rode up and counselled them – his soldiers he taught
How they should stand, and their standing to keep,
And bade them their round shields rightly to hold
Fast to their forearms, that they flinch not at all.
And when he had his folk fairly bestowed
He lighted there with his people, where he would liefest be
Where he knew his own troops were most to be trusted.

THE VIKINGS PARLEY

Then stood forth on the strand and sternly spake
The messenger of the Vikings, delivered his tidings;
He boastfully spoke, for the seafarers
Their sentence to the earl, where he stood on the shore.
“They sent me to thee, those bold seamen,
And bade me to say that thou must send swiftly
Ring-money for pledges. For you were it better
That you buy off this spear-rush with your tax,
Than that we should have so hard a battle.
What need we to vex us, if you will agree?
We will for this gold a sure compact make
If thou wilt agree to it – thou that art strongest.
If that thou be willing thy people to redeem,
To yield to the seamen at their own choice
Tribute for a truce, and so take peace of us,
Then will we with the tax to ship betake us
To sail on the sea – and hold truce with you.
Brithnoth made answer – his buckler he grasped,
Brandished his slender spear – and spoke.
“Hearest thou, sea-robber, what this people say?
For tribute they’re ready to give you their spears,
The edge poison-bitter, and the ancient sword.
War-gear that will bring you no profit in the fight.
Thou messenger of the seamen, back with thy message.
Tell to thy people, these far more hateful tidings,
There stands here a good earl in the midst of his men,
Who will this country ever defend,
The kingdom of Aethelred, mine overlord,
The folk and the ground – but they shall fall,
The foemen in the fight; too shameful methinks
That ye with our tribute, to ship should be gone
Without a blow struck – now that ye have thus far
Made your incoming into our land.
Nor shall ye so softly carry off our riches.
Sooner shall point and edge reconcile us,
Grim warplay indeed – before we give tribute.”
Bade he then to bear the shields, the warriors to go,
So that they on the river’s bank all stood.

THE TIDE DELAYS THE FIGHTING

Nor could for the water, the army come at the other,
For there came flowing, flood after ebb;
Locked were the ocean-streams, and too long it seemed
Until they together might carry their spears.
There by Panta’s stream in array they bestood,
Essex men’s rank, and the men from the ships,
Nor might any one of them injure the other
Except where from arrow’s flight one had his death.
The flood went out – the pirates stood ready.
Full many of the Vikings, eager for battle.

BRITHNOTH SETS A GUARD OVER THE FORD

Then bade the men’s saviour, one to hold the bridge,
A warrior war-hardened, that was Wulfstan hight1,
Courageous mid his kin – he was Ceola’s son,
Who the first foeman with his spear did fell
That bravest stepped forth upon the bridge.
There stood with Wulfstan warriors goodly
Aelfere and Maccus, high hearted both,
That never at the ford would turn them to flight,
But they steadfastly ‘gainst their foes made defence,
While their weapons to wield they were able.

THE VIKINGS ARE BAULKED

When they saw that, and keenly espied
That bitter bridge-guardians there they met
Then began they to feign – those loathed guests -
And begged that they might some foothold get,
To fare over the ford – the foemen to lead.

BRITHNOTH ALLOWS THE VIKINGS TO CROSS

Then did the earl, in his overweening heart
Lend land too much to that loathed people.
Then ‘gan he call out – across the cold water
Brighthelm’s son, and all the band listened.
“Now room is meted you, come swiftly to us,
Warriors to war. Only God knows
Who at the end shall possess this fight’s field”.
Then went the war wolves – for water they recked not.
The troop of the pirates, west over Panta.
Over the shining water they carried their shields
Seamen to the shore, their bucklers they shouldered.
There against the raiders ready stood
Brithnoth with his band, and with the bucklers bade
Form the shield wall, and make firm the ranks
Fast against the foes. Then was fighting nigh,
Fame in the fight – now was the hour come
When that the feymen2 must fall.

THE BATTLE IS JOINED

Now was riot raised, the ravens wheeled,
The eagle, eager for carrion, there was a cry on earth.
Then loosed they from their hands the file-hard lance,
The sharp-ground spears to fly.
Bows were busied – buckler met point
Bitter was the battle-rush, warriors fell
On either hand, the young men lay!
Wounded was Wulfmur, a war bed he chose,
Even Brithnoth’s kinsman, he with swords
Was straight cut down, his sister’s son.
Then to the Vikings was requital given.
I heard that Edward did slay one
Straightly with his sword, nor stinted3 the blow,
That at his feet fell – the fey warrior.
For this his thane did to him give thanks,
Even to his chamberlain – when he had a space.

THE ESSEX MEN STAND FAST

So stood firm the stout-hearted
Warriors in the war – they did keenly strive
Who with his point first should be able
From fey men to win life.
Warriors with weapons: wrack fell on earth.
They stood steadfast; Brithnoth stirred them,
Bade each of his men intend to the strife
That would from the Danes win glory.

A VIKING ATTACKS BRITHNOTH

Went one stern in battle – his weapon upheaved,
His shield for safety – and ‘gainst the chief strode -
As resolute against him the earl did go,
Each to the other did evil intend.
Sent then the seafarer a southern dart,
And wounded was the warriors’ chieftain.
But he shoved with his shield – so that the shaft burst,
And the spear broke, and it sprang away.
Wroth was the chieftain, he pierced with his spear
That proud Viking who gave him that wound.
Yet prudent was the chieftain; he aimed his shaft to go
Through the man’s neck – his hand guided it
So that he reached his sudden enemy’s life.
Then he a second swiftly sent
That the breastplate burst – in the heart was he wounded
Through the ring-harness – and at his heart stood
The poisoned point; the earl was the blither:-
Laughed then that high-heart – made thanks to God
For his day’s work – that his Saviour granted him.

A SECOND VIKING WOUNDS BRITHNOTH

Loosed then one of the foemen a dart from his hands,
To fly from his finders – that it rushed forth
Through the noble thane of Aethelred.
Close to his side stood a youth not yet grown
Wulfstan’s child – even Wulfmeer the younger.
He plucked from his chieftain that bloody spear
Then loosed the hard spear ‘gainst that other to go;
In ran the point – so that he on earth lay
Who ere had sorely wounded his chief.
Went an armed Viking against the earl
Who wished the earl’s jewels to plunder,
His armour and rings – and well-adorned sword.
Then Brithnoth drew his sword from sheath
Broad and brown edged – and at his breast-plate smote.
Too soon hindered him one of the seamen,
So that the earl’s arm he did injure.
Fell then to earth the fallow-hilted sword,
Nor could he hold the hard brand
Or wield his weapon.

BRITHNOTH’S DYING WORDS

Yet then this word did speak
The old warrior; cheered on his men
Ordered to go forward – his good brethren.
No longer could he firmly on his feet stand.
He looked up to heaven……..
“I thank Thee, Lord of all peoples
For all those joys that I on earth have known.
Now, my Maker mild – I have most need
That thou to my ghost should grant good.
That my soul to Thee may journey,
Into thy kingdom – O lord of the Angels,
May pass with peace – I do desire of Thee
That the hell-fiends may not hurt it.”
Then hewed at him those heathen men
And at both those men that stood him beside,
Aelfnoth and Wulfmeer – both fell;
Then beside their liege – their lives they yielded.

GODRIC BEGINS THE FLIGHT

Then fled those from the fight that wished not to be there.
Then were Odda’s sons first in the flight
Godric from the battle, and left his good lord
Who had often given him many a mare,
He sprang upon the horse that his lord had owned,
Upon the trappings where no right had he,
And with him his brothers – they both galloped off,
Godrinc and Godwig, they loved not the battle,
They went from that war – and the wood they sought,
They fled to the fastness – and saved their own lives,
And men more than had any right
If they had all bethought them of the blessings
That he had done them for their good comfort.
Even thus to him Offa one day ere had said
In the meeting-place where he held his moot.
That with proud minds many did then speak
Who later at need would not endure.
Then fell that leader of the folk,
Aethelred’s earl and all did see,
His hearth companions – that their lord was laid low.

MANY CONTINUE THE BATTLE

Then went forth the proud thanes,
Brave men – hastened eagerly,
And willed they all – for one of two things:
Their lives to lose, or their loved lord to avenge.
Thus urged them forth the son of Aelfric,
A warrior young in winters – with words he spake,
Aelfwin thus said – boldly he spoke,
“Think ye of the times when we oft spake at mead
When we on the benches did raise up our boast,
Henchmen in the hall – about hard strife,
Now may each one make trial of how bold he be.
Now will I tell my lineage to all
That I was in Mercia of a mighty kindred
Mine old father – Aldhelm was hight,
An alderman wise – and rich in wealth;
Nor shall the thanes mid the people reproach me,
That I would consent to flee from this fight,
My home to seek, now my lord lieth low,
Slain in the strife; but yet it most grieves me
For that he was both – my kinsman and my lord.”
Then went he forth – full mindful of the feud,
So that with his spear one he slew.
A pirate ‘mong his people – that he fell to the earth.
Slain by his weapon. He ‘gan to urge on
His comrades and friends – that they should go forth.
Offa spake, his spear-shaft shook,
“Lo thou, Aelfwin, hast all heartened
Thanes at need – now our lord lieth,
The earl on the earth – for us all is need
That each one of us should hearten the other
Warrior to war, while he his weapon may
Have and hold, his hard blade,
His spear and good sword – for Godric hath us,
Odda’s coward son, all betrayed.
For many men thought when he rode off on the mare,
On that proud steed, that he was our lord.
And for that cause are the folk scattered over the field
The shield wall broken. May his plan come to nought!
For that he so many men hath set to flight.”
Leofsund spoke, his buckler uphove,
His shield for safety – and that man answered,
“I do promise this, that I will not hence
Fly a foot’s step, but shall further go
To avenge in the war my friendly lord.
Then shall not need in Sturmere the steadfast soldiers
To twit me with words, now my friend is fall’n,
For that I returned home without my lord,
Turned from the battle, but the sword shall take me,
The point and the steel.” And he, most wroth, departed.
Fought steadfastly – flight he despised.
Dunmer then spoke – shook his spear,
A humble churl – called out above all,
Bade each warrior – “Brithnoth avenge!
Now may not go he who thinketh to avenge
His friend among the folk, nor mourn for his life.”

THE LAST STAND OF THE THANES

And then they went forth – for life they recked not.
Then ‘gan the house men hardly to fight,
The fierce spear bearers – and they begged God
That they might avenge their friendly lord,
And on their enemies bring death.
Then the hostage ‘gan eagerly help,
He was in Northumbria of a hardy kin,
Eclaf’s child, and Aesferth his name.
He weakened not a whit in the warplay,
But he sent forth often a shaft,
Often he a buckler struck, often a man hit,
Ever and again he dealt out wounds
The while he his weapons might wield.
Then yet in the rank stood Eadward the tall,
Ready and eager – a boastful word spoke,
That he would not flee a foot’s space of land,
Or budge back, now that his better chief was fall’n.
He shattered the shield wall and fought with the soldiers
Until he his treasure-giver upon the seamen
Had worthily avenged – ‘ere he lay with the slain.
So did Aeturic – a noble companion,
Eager and impetuous – he fought keenly,
Sibright’s brother, – and full many more, -
Split the hollow shields, sharply parried.
The buckler’s edge burst, breast-plate sang
A grisly song. Then in the strife struck
Offa a seaman, that he sank to the earth,
And then Gadda’s kinsman the ground sought.
Soon in the struggle was Offa struck down
Yet had he done what he boasted to his friend
As he bragged before to his ring-giver:-
That they both to the burg should ride
Hale to their home, or in the battle fall,
On the war field perish of their wounds.
He fell like true thane at his chief’s side.
Then was breaking of bucklers, the seamen came on
Stern to the strife; the spear often pierced
A feyman’s body. Forth then went Wistan,
Thurstan’s son, with the enemy fought,
He was in the throng – of three men the bane
Ere him Wigelin’s son on the battlefield laid.
Then was stern meeting, stood fast
Warriors in the war, then men sank down
Wearied with wounds – slaughter fell on earth.
Oswald and Ealdwald all the while
Brothers both, urged on the men,
Their dear kinsmen, with words incited
That they there at need should hold out,
Stoutly wield their weapons.
Brythwold spoke, grasped his buckler,
He was an old comrade, urged the men,
He full boldly cheered his soldiers,
“Thought must be the harder, heart the keener
Spirit shall be more – as our might lessens.
There lies our chief all cut down,
Good man on the ground; for ever may he grieve
Who now from this war-play thinketh to go.
I am old in years – hence I will not,
But by the side of mine own lord,
By my chief so loved, I think to lie.”
And thus them all did Aethelgar’s son urge,
Even Godric, to the battle – oft he cast a spear,
A spear of slaughter to go upon the Vikings,
As he ‘mid the folk foremost went,
Smote and struck down till he sank down in the fight.
He was not that Godric who left the battle.

2. The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Tennyson didn’t see the British cavalry charge against Russian artillery in the Crimean war – other than with his mind’s eye – but his lifelong absorption in Arthurian legend and chivalry enabled him to take his place, imaginatively, with the “Noble six hundred”. He celebrates their courage, but recognising that “Someone had blundered”, begins to question the value of the heroic code.

I
Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

II
“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
Someone had blundered.
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

III
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of hell
Rode the six hundred.

IV
Flashed all their sabres bare,
Flashed as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wondered.
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right through the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the sabre stroke
Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

V
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell.
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

VI
When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!

3. Drummer Hodge by Thomas Hardy

In the 50 years between the writing of Tennyson’s Charge’, and this heart-wrenching poem of Hardy’s, the new “humane” tradition had come to challenge nine centuries of the old “heroic” one. Hardy didn’t see the Boer war burial party “throw in Drummer Hodge to rest / Uncoffined – just as found”, but his lifelong absorption in the little world of Wessex enabled him, imaginatively, to witness the boy’s graveside.

They throw in Drummer Hodge, to rest
Uncoffined — just as found:
His landmark is a kopje-crest
That breaks the veldt around:
And foreign constellations west
Each night above his mound.

Young Hodge the drummer never knew –
Fresh from his Wessex home –
The meaning of the broad Karoo,
The Bush, the dusty loam,
And why uprose to nightly view
Strange stars amid the gloam.

Yet portion of that unknown plain
Will Hodge for ever be;
His homely Northern breast and brain
Grow to some Southern tree,
And strange-eyed constellations reign
His stars eternally.

4. Christ and the Soldier by Siegfried Sassoon

On 1 July 1916, Sassoon saw the carnage of the opening of the Battle of the Somme and, a month later, wrote this brilliant but savagely anti-Christian poem (which, significantly, he never published).

I
The straggled soldier halted — stared at Him — Then clumsily dumped down upon his knees, Gasping

“O blessed crucifix, I’m beat !”

And Christ, still sentried by the seraphim, Near the front-line, between two splintered trees, Spoke him:

“My son, behold these hands and feet.”

The soldier eyed him upward, limb by limb, Paused at the Face, then muttered,

“Wounds like these Would shift a bloke to Blighty just a treat !”

Christ, gazing downward, grieving and ungrim, Whispered,

“I made for you the mysteries, Beyond all battles moves the Paraclete.”
II
The soldier chucked his rifle in the dust, And slipped his pack, and wiped his neck, and said –

“O Christ Almighty, stop this bleeding fight !”

Above that hill the sky was stained like rust With smoke. In sullen daybreak flaring red The guns were thundering bombardment’s blight. The soldier cried,

“I was born full of lust, With hunger, thirst, and wishfulness to wed. Who cares today if I done wrong or right?”

Christ asked all pitying,

“Can you put no trust In my known word that shrives each faithful head ? Am I not resurrection, life and light ?”
III
Machine-guns rattled from below the hill; High bullets flicked and whistled through the leaves; And smoke came drifting from exploding shells.

Christ said

“Believe; and I can cleanse your ill. I have not died in vain between two thieves; Nor made a fruitless gift of miracles.”

The soldier answered,

“Heal me if you will, Maybe there’s comfort when a soul believes In mercy, and we need it in these hells. But be you for both sides ? I’m paid to kill And if I shoot a man his mother grieves. Does that come into what your teaching tells ?”

A bird lit on the Christ and twittered gay; Then a breeze passed and shook the ripening corn. A Red Cross waggon bumped along the track. Forsaken Jesus dreamed in the desolate day — Uplifted Jesus, Prince of Peace forsworn — An observation post for the attack.

“Lord Jesus, ain’t you got no more to say ?”

Bowed hung that head below the crown of thorns. The soldier shifted, and picked up his pack, And slung his gun, and stumbled on his way.

“O God,” he groaned,”why ever was I born ?”

… The battle boomed, and no reply came back.

5. Strange Meeting by Wilfred Owen

Not the most flawless of Owen’s poems, but the most visionary, this reaches back to the heroic epics of Homer and Virgil and forward to voice in its last lines a compassionate humanity in striking contrast to the last speech of Byrhtnoth, the doomed warrior in The Battle of Maldon.

It seemed that out of battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which titanic wars had groined.

Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands, as if to bless.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,—
By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.

With a thousand fears that vision’s face was grained;
Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
“Strange friend,” I said, “here is no cause to mourn.”
“None,” said that other, “save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also; I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something had been left,
Which must die now. I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled.
Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress.
None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
Courage was mine, and I had mystery;
Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery:
To miss the march of this retreating world
Into vain citadels that are not walled.
Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels,
I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
I would have poured my spirit without stint
But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.

I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now. . . .

6. Aristocrats by Keith Douglas

This fine elegy for fellow officers killed in the Battle of El Alamein again acknowledges both ancient and modern traditions of war poetry. Douglas recognises at once the chivalry and the obsolescence of cavalrymen on mechanical mounts duelling in the desert.

The noble horse with courage in his eye,
clean in the bone, looks up at a shellburst:
away fly the images of the shires
but he puts the pipe back in his mouth.
Peter was unfortunately killed by an 88;
it took his leg away, he died in the ambulance.
I saw him crawling on the sand, he said
It’s most unfair, they’ve shot my foot off.
How can I live among this gentle
obsolescent breed of heroes, and not weep?
Unicorns, almost,
for they are fading into two legends
in which their stupidity and chivalry
are celebrated. Each, fool and hero, will be an immortal.
These plains were their cricket pitch
and in the mountains the tremendous drop fences
brought down some of the runners. Here then
under the stones and earth they dispose themselves,
I think with their famous unconcern.
It is not gunfire I hear, but a hunting horn.

7. MCMXIV by Philip Larkin

No poem written since MCMXIV (Latin numerals for 1914, as found on first world war memorials) speaks so eloquently, so poignantly, of the future awaiting the children at play, “the men leaving the gardens tidy, / The thousands of marriages”, all seen as in a fine-grained sepia photograph.

Those long uneven lines
Standing as patiently
As if they were stretched outside
The Oval or Villa Park,
The crowns of hats, the sun
On moustached archaic faces
Grinning as if it were all
An August Bank Holiday lark;

And the shut shops, the bleached
Established names on the sunblinds,
The farthings and sovereigns,
And dark-clothed children at play
Called after kings and queens,
The tin advertisements
For cocoa and twist, and the pubs
Wide open all day—

And the countryside not caring:
The place names all hazed over
With flowering grasses, and fields
Shadowing Domesday lines
Under wheat’s restless silence;
The differently-dressed servants
With tiny rooms in huge houses,
The dust behind limousines;

Never such innocence,
Never before or since,
As changed itself to past
Without a word – the men
Leaving the gardens tidy,
The thousands of marriages,
Lasting a little while longer:
Never such innocence again.

8. Requiem for the Croppies by Seamus Heaney

The 20th-century Nobel prize-winning Irish poet gives a voice to his voiceless peasant countrymen massacred in the 1798 rebellion against the British. They were nicknamed croppies because of their closely cropped hair-style copied from the sans-culottes of the French Revolution, who cropped their heads to distinguish themselves from wig-wearing aristocrats. The barley in the croppies’ pockets was to have been their food.

The pockets of our greatcoats full of barley…
No kitchens on the run, no striking camp…
We moved quick and sudden in our own country.
The priest lay behind ditches with the tramp.
A people hardly marching… on the hike…
We found new tactics happening each day:
We’d cut through reins and rider with the pike
And stampede cattle into infantry,
Then retreat through hedges where cavalry must be thrown.
Until… on Vinegar Hill… the final conclave.
Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at cannon.
The hillside blushed, soaked in our broken wave.
They buried us without shroud or coffin
And in August… the barley grew up out of our grave.

9. Platform One by Ted Hughes

Hughes’s father and uncle fought in the Great War and one senses their shadowy presence behind this elegy for those who did not survive it as they did. Focusing on Platform One’s larger-than-life bronze statue in Paddington station, his imagination travels from a peacetime present, in which holiday-bound families are “scrambling for their lives”, to a past in which soldiers left that platform to scramble for their lives – and lose them – on foreign battlefields.

Holiday squeals, as if all were scrambling for their lives,
Panting aboard the “Cornish Riviera”.
Then overflow of relief and luggage and children,
Then duckling to smile out as the station moves.

Out there on the platform, under the rain,
Under his rain-cape, helmet and full pack,
Somebody, head bowed reading something,
Doesn’t know he’s missing his train.

He’s completely buried in that book.
He’s forgotten utterly where he is.
He’s forgotten Paddington, forgotten
Timetables, forgotten the long, rocking
Cradle of a journey into the golden West,
The coach’s soft wingbeat – as light
And straight as a dove’s flight.
Like a graveyard statue sentry cast

In blackened bronze. Is he reading poems?
A letter? The burial service? The raindrops
Beaded along his helmet rim are bronze.
The words on his page are bronze. Their meanings bronze.

Sunk in his bronze world he stands, enchanted.
His bronze mind is deep among the dead.
Sunk so deep among the dead that, much
As he would like to remember us all, he cannot.

10. The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner by Randall Jarrell

Many of the most moving and memorable poems to emerge from the second world war were written by Americans. Jarrell, who served in the US Army Air Corps, was concerned with victims, the most famous of whom was the subject of this poem. To get the full force of it one needs to know that a ball turret was a plexiglass sphere set into the belly of a bomber and contained two machine guns and one small man – he had to be small. When this gunner tracked with his machine gun a fighter attacking his bomber from below, he revolved with the turret. Hunched upside down in his little sphere, he looked like a foetus in a womb. Jarrell’s gunner wakens from a dream of life to the reality of death: “‘When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.” Only with the last word – (and it would have been a steam hose) – does the full force of the abortion metaphor hit us.

 

From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

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Joan of Arc

I know this now. Every man gives his life for what he believes. Every woman gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes people believe in little or nothing yet they give their lives to that little or nothing. One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. And then it is gone. But to sacrifice what you are and live without belief, that's more terrible than dying.--

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readers

Beannacht

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

John O'Donohue, Echoes of Memory

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