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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Vonnegut's requiem

Written shortly after he heard his first wife was dying from cancer.

My prayers are unheard,
But Thy sublime indifference
    will ensure
that I not burn in some
    everlasting fire.
Give me a place among the
    sheep
and the goats, separating
    none from none,
leaving our mingled ashes
    where they fall.
... O Time, O Elements
Grant them rest. Amen.

2 comments:

Carl M. said...

Spam, yuck.

Anyway, this reminds me of a passage in Zhuangzi:

When Zhuangzi’s wife died, Huizi came to pay his respects. Zhuangzi sat with his legs spread out, beating a drum, and singing a song.

Huizi spoke. “When someone with whom you lived, raised children, and passed the years has died, it is one thing not to shed your tears, but is it not terrible to go on beating a drum and singing a song like this?”

Zhuangzi spoke. “That is not so. You have misunderstood. When my wife died, I too felt the enormity of the loss. However, I sought to return to the root of things. Doing so, first there was a time when her birth was not. Not only her birth, but even form was not. Not only her form, but even her qi was not. In the hazy midst of things, where everything was mixed together, something changed, and her qi was born. In that qi, something changed, and her form was born. In that form, something changed, and her life was born. And now, there has been another change: one towards her death. In just this way, things move together through the four seasons of spring, summer, autumn, and winter. When my wife was lying asleep in a big room, there was nothing for me to do but cry, but when I realized this was because I had not seen the natural imperative (ming 命) through, I stopped my crying. (Zhuangzi, “The Perfection of Joy” Zhi Le 至樂)

Mike said...

I got rid of the spam.

I enjoyed the Zhuangzi.

I got this from the Vonnegut bio I just finished reading. I believe he had it translated into latin though I don't know that it was every used. His first wife was more religious than he was though of a new-age bent.