I’ve never done anything but dream. This, and this alone, has been the meaning of my life. My only real concern has been my inner life. FERNANDO PESSOA

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Don't Be Afraid

All I know is a door into the dark. SEAMUS HEANEY The Forge

Apparently Seamus Heaney's last words to his wife, Marie, sent to her in a text message just minutes before he died, were: 'Noli timere' ('Don't be afraid'). I find this so rich, so caring, so poignant. He's telling her: 'Don't be afraid for me. And don't be afraid without me. And don't be afraid of your own death. It's all right.' And he writes in Latin, a language he loved. All this I find incredibly moving.

12 comments:

Ruth said...

So poignant. I find the whispered words (text or not) noli timere are more sensuous and tender than don't be afraid.

Ahhh, this poet, this man.

am said...

His last words moved me, too. They spoke of his love for his wife of so many years and revealed he was a man who loved and was loved.

Just before reading your post, I had just read this:

We are left with the paradox: only by hearing the farthest call of consciousness can we hear the call of ordinary life, but only by claiming the most mundane and jangling details of our lives can that rare and ulterior music of the soul merge with the Seamus Heaney calls "the music of what happens."

(Christian Wiman, from My Bright Abyss)

Vagabonde said...

Yes, like Ruth, I think noli timere sounds a lot better than don’t be afraid. Even in Italian it does not sound as good – non abbiate paura. The French is a bit better – n’aies pas peur.
It is so sad to see such a great poet go – many will miss him for a long time.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks so much, Ruth, Am and Vagabonde, for responding to this. It was a post close to my heart.

Gerry Snape said...

what a man...I could cry all over again.

The Solitary Walker said...

A wonderful poet and a wonderful man, Gerry.

Wendy said...

I saw a clip from his funeral service and hearing his son tell this was touching.

I've only read Heaney sporadically and accidentally but a few snippets of his poems have come to me in the past few days and have me wanting to read more.

Dominic Rivron said...

The phrase "with all due respect" is usually used hypocritically or ironically. In this case I actually mean it literally...

With all due respect to Vagabonde, the great thing about poets is that, in a sense, they never go and we never need miss them.

"The music of what happens". I like that.

Noli timere. A good motto.

Wendy said...

RTE (Raidió Teilifís Éireann) has, for a limited time, a documentary on Heaney. I've linked to it on my blog and highly recommend it.

(Not to detract from the conversation, but I'll point out that my blog address is new - a result of finally making a decision about writing online under my real name :-) If it's of equal interest as my other blog (some posts are the same), I'd be delighted if you'd replace the old link with a new one on your sidebar. Sorry for the hassle and the tangent.)

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks Dominic and Wendy for your comments. And Wendy, thanks for the Heaney link. Yes, I would like to put Wander-Bird on my blog list!

Amanda said...

The fact that Heaney texted these words in Latin is almost too rich to digest. Don't you just love it? The gravitas of these words, marinated in Latin, transmitted through the ether of the internet. Through them, Heaney brilliantly soldered together eons of time and, for a moment, life and death.

The Solitary Walker said...

Oh, Amanada, that's so beautifully put. Yes, yes, I agree with you. Thanks so much for this.