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Remember — a Poetry Friday post

Six years ago this week, my maternal grandmother died. She was a marvelous woman. You would have liked her. Even people who'd only ever met her once dementia had set in thought she was terrific. Tonight, I will say kaddish in her memory, and her name will be read out during the service, so that everyone there will remember her as well, even if they know nothing of her at all. Kaddish is a prayer in praise of God, and is a recurring prayer in a traditional Jewish service. It is recited in Aramaic, not Hebrew, because it was considered so important that it was at one time read in the common language, so that everyone would really understand it. Ironically, there are those who still speak Hebrew, but Aramaic? Not so much. Nevertheless, folks continue to recite it in Aramaic because there is comfort in the rhythms of the text. But I digress. Kaddish is not only said at transitional parts within a service; it is also said at one point by mourners and those remembering yahrzeits (anniversaries of deaths). The practice of naming the dead on or near their yahrzeit is one means of keeping them alive, the thought being that so long as memory lives, one lives on inside those left behind.

Today's poem choice is Remember, a sonnet by Christina Rossetti using the following rhyme scheme: ABBAABBACDDECE

by Christina Rossetti

Remember me when I am gone away,
  Gone far away into the silent land;
  When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
  You tell me of our future that you planned:
  Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
  And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
  For if the darkness and corruption leave
  A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
  Than that you should remember and be sad.

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( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 30th, 2008 10:04 am (UTC)
TadMack says:
I find the practice of remembering the dead on or near the day they died is so much more meaningful than a single day of remembrance. I've heard an English translation of Kaddish, and it's really beautiful -- not mournful in a sense that people might expect, but sort of... circular. As in, you had an awesome grandmother, and wasn't the one who gave her and created the universe awesome as well. I really like that.

May your time of remembering be sweet.
May. 30th, 2008 08:44 pm (UTC)
Re: TadMack says:
I like the practice, too. And I love that the Jewish response to death is to stand up and praise God. There's something defiant and awesome there, I think.
May. 30th, 2008 11:11 am (UTC)
We sang this in our last concert this spring. Gorgeous and lush and moving.

I'm glad you have such fond memories of your grandmother.
May. 30th, 2008 08:45 pm (UTC)
I must scurry off to find a recording of its musical form - I didn't realize there was such a thing.
May. 30th, 2008 10:24 pm (UTC)
I'll try to find the composer for you. I can't locate a program right now so I emailed my director.
May. 30th, 2008 10:27 pm (UTC)
Oh, I just googled it. The composer is Stephen Chatman, and it's on iTunes performed by the Choir of St. John's Elora.
May. 31st, 2008 03:08 am (UTC)
I will check it out. Thanks, AM!
May. 30th, 2008 01:32 pm (UTC)
I've never heard that poem. I love it! Thank you for sharing.

Your grandmother sounds like a wonderful woman.
May. 30th, 2008 08:46 pm (UTC)
I think it's gorgeous, too. And she was a wonderful woman.
May. 30th, 2008 03:19 pm (UTC)
Lovely poem. It's taken me to thoughts of both my grandmothers. Happy remembering!
May. 30th, 2008 08:46 pm (UTC)
I love it, too. And my memories of both grandmothers are happy ones as well.
May. 30th, 2008 04:08 pm (UTC)
I miss my grandmothers, too. :-) Yours sounds lovely. And a beautiful Rossetti poem -- thanks.
May. 30th, 2008 08:48 pm (UTC)
Both of mine were lovely. And I find the remembering of yahrzeits to be very comforting - it's kinda like a birthday, only instead of looking forward, you look back and pull up fond memories. Or at least, that's how I work it.
May. 30th, 2008 04:46 pm (UTC)
"Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay." oh I love that line! You are blessed to have such a grandmother. I wish you peace and comfort in your memories.
May. 30th, 2008 08:50 pm (UTC)
So many of the lines are gorgeous here. I like these two the very best, although the last two are pretty killer too:

Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve.
May. 30th, 2008 05:48 pm (UTC)
I just LOVE her. That is a lovely poem, Kelly. You made me cry a little bit.
May. 30th, 2008 08:52 pm (UTC)
I very much love the poem as well, and heartily agree with its sentiments. I suppose it'd be a wonderful funerary poem, but I think it works as a memorial as well.
May. 30th, 2008 06:58 pm (UTC)
I've always loved this poem. It was there for me during difficult times.

Thanks for this post. And, of course, we would have liked your grandmother, since she was related to you.

Jules, 7-Imp
May. 30th, 2008 08:53 pm (UTC)
You would have liked my other grandmother also, but her yahrzeit was earlier this year.

I'm glad you also find this poem a comfort.
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May. 31st, 2008 03:08 am (UTC)
May. 31st, 2008 10:12 am (UTC)
I'll send this poem to my mom. I just wrote, at Wild Rose Reader, about her angst in not getting all the iris from our yard to the graveyard this year on Memorial Day. Maybe this poem will help her to forgive herself.
May. 31st, 2008 02:32 pm (UTC)
I hope she forgives herself as well. And it is never too late for a trip.
May. 31st, 2008 08:00 pm (UTC)
Six years ago this September, my brother Stephen died in a car accident. It took over four years to remember him without sadness and tears. Most of the time now, I remember him and smile or laugh. But sometimes, I remember him and I'm sad. It's hard not to be sad when you miss someone you love.

The tradition of remembering loved ones on the anniversary of their death is a comforting one. Every September I light a candle for Stephen and fondly remember him.

Life goes on.
May. 31st, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Remember
I didn't realize it had only been 6 years for you. But the lighting of candles (Jews do that, too) and the remembering make the loss more bearable, I think - knowing that although gone, that person and their importance in your life is not forgotten is comforting, somehow.
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )

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