Respectable men have witnessed terrible things,
And rich and poor things extraordinary,
These murder-haunted years. Even so, even so,
Respectable men seem still respectable,
The ordinary no less ordinary,
For our inherited features cannot show
More than traditional grief and happiness
That rise from old and worn and simple springs.
How can an eye or brow
Disclose the gutted towns and the millions dead?
They have too slight an artistry.
Between us and the things that change us
A covenant long ago was set
And is prescriptive yet.
A single grief from man or God
Freely will let
Change in and bring a stern relief.
A son or daughter dead
Can bend the back or whiten the head,
Break and remould the heart,
Stiffen the face into a mask of grief.
It is an ancient art.
The impersonal calamities estrange us
From our own selves, send us abroad
In desolate thoughtlessness,
While far behind our hearts know what they know,
Yet cannot feel, nor ever express…Edwin Muir
These days I go out into my garden and the flowers are blooming as usual, calm and beautiful, knowing nothing of the world’s tragedies…as the poem says “respectable men still seem respectable”…
There is nothing to show that we know what terrible “impersonal calamities” surround us in these “murder haunted years”…but as the poet says, the heart knows..
The background of this work contains painted impressions of a variety of leaves from my garden….Watercolour on Arches Not paper…view large…