“Nay, do not grieve tho’ life be full of sadness, dawn will not veil her splendor for your grief”

2 Feb

We’re eating breakfast when the news comes on the radio-two little girls to be buried today, after freezing to death one night, because of, or in spite of their father.

I cling to Vivian for a moment, longer than she likes, but still, I press her slight body against mine, feel it’s warmth, it’s passion and strength and wonder just what I’d do if I found her sapped of all these things. If it were I that would find her rigid in a snowbank, bare legs pointed, eyes blank.

I ache and anger all at once. The waste. The fucking waste of it all-raising your children, birthing your children, and yet being unable to defeat your demons in order to protect them. Living with the knowledge that, mens rea, you have slaughtered your babies. You have destroyed your legacy.

This week has been rife with news of children, bad news. A child abandoned-imagine, abandoning a small baby, not where it would be easily found, but hidden away, where only luck saved her. Was it a mother, afraid that a husband or a boyfriend might harm her further? Was she desperate? Or did they just want to be rid of her? Did her father leave her there, tired of the work, the late nights, crying?

Who leaves their child in this way? What’s so wrong?

Right now, she sits in the arms of a foster mother, trying to engage her. She has no last name.


What causes us to value our children so little, to be so careless and callous? I try not to think each day of the children being harmed as I walk with my daughters, hand in hand, roaring like dinosaurs. I think of my unexpected love for them, but I think too of the hard days when they were first here. I know I haven’t been, and will never be a perfect mother. But I would never harm them on purpose. I would never leave them to the elements. I would never let someone hurt them. Am I stronger, or just luckier?


It’s been a bad news kind of week. A week where I question my devotion to the news, to my insatiable lust to know. I step away and remind myself that this kind of thing has always happened, and always will, sadly.

It doesn’t make it any better.

Our trees are coated in ice this morning. Their beauty locked inside a crystal cocoon, one that can shatter, or melt away. It magnifies, makes the mundane wonderful. Asks me to look closer, look past the obvious rough edges. Tells me it’s not all bad.

And maybe it’s not. But today, today it feels like it is.


Village Song, Sarojini Naidu

Honey, child, honey, child, whither are you
Would you cast your jewels all to the breezes
Would you leave the mother who on golden
     grain has fed you?
Would you grieve the lover who is riding forth
     to wed you?

Mother mine, to the wild forest I am going,
Where upon the champa boughs the champa
     buds are blowing;
To the koil-haunted river-isles where lotus lilies
The voices of the fairy folk are calling me:
     O listen!

Honey, child, honey, child, the world is full of
Of bridal-songs and cradle-songs and sandal-
     scented leisure.
Your bridal robes are in the loom, silver and
     saffron glowing,
Your bridal cakes are on the hearth: O whither
     are you going?

The bridal-songs and cradle-songs have cadences
     of sorrow,
The laughter of the sun to-day, the wind of
     death to-morrow.
Far sweeter sound the forest-notes where forest-
     streams are falling;
O mother mine, I cannot stay, the fairy-folk
     are calling.

7 Responses to ““Nay, do not grieve tho’ life be full of sadness, dawn will not veil her splendor for your grief””

  1. bine February 2, 2008 at 9:49 am #

    oh yes, jen wrote about that too … it’s terrible. mind-freezing. like those cases of child neglect in germany. i wonder what is wrong with the human race … do we eat our young like overpopulated rodents? does this gegerate from increasing social stress? will this get worse? it scares me to death.

  2. Judy February 2, 2008 at 10:25 am #

    The thing that bothers me most is the way the news outlets insist on reporting on it and making it big news.

    I’m a news junkie, and want to read the news and know what’s going on in the world, but I DON”T want to read these stories – they don’t impact my life directly, there is nothing I can do about it, and they just leave me sad for the day (or days). I know it must sell and get people’s attention, but we don’t need to read about every case of child abuse or every horrible child death.

    I can’t help but wonder if the news doesn’t make it worse, instead of help.

    Why can’t they report on stories we CAN do something about?

    I don’t know how it happens. I’ve had those moments of sleep-deprived, at my wit’s end rage where I feel like I want to throw my kid across the room, but I don’t understnd how one can actually do it. How someone could hurt their own child, how it happens so often.

    I hold my babies closer, and hope the one I can’t hold is safe, too, as she – a beautiful 12 yo girl – is probably the one I need to worry about the most.

  3. Jennifer February 2, 2008 at 1:16 pm #

    Yeah, I don’t want to read yahoo news anymore. The day that story unfolded I was anxious for Emily and Morgan to get home so I could hug them. In fact, that night we turned off the TV and hung out in Morgans room building trains and reading stories.

    What bothers me the most, is that the father probably loved his girls just like you or I, but it was, as you wrote, his personal demons that he could not defeat that caused him to kill them – accidentally, but killed them nonetheless. He will have to live with that. Personally I don’t think I could go on with that knowledge.

  4. Marcy February 2, 2008 at 2:48 pm #

    Love the poem…

  5. thordora February 2, 2008 at 3:28 pm #

    Marcy it makes me cry, it’s such sweet sorrow…a new poet I discovered-I look forward to reading more of her work.

  6. Bon February 2, 2008 at 10:01 pm #

    the news story made me ache too, and still does. and i long just to be righteous and angry, but really, what point? he has to live with this the rest of his days. he already had demons to start. who knows what fresh hells await? i would not wish that punishment on anyone, no matter how i long for a way to make the sadness of the situation right. so i sorrow for him almost as much as for those two little unprotected children…and for their mother.

    the poem reminds me of Yeats…inverted.

  7. Heather (AmeriMama) February 3, 2008 at 4:17 pm #

    I don’t understand why people fail to protect their children. I know there are reasons, sometimes beyond their control, but I will never UNDERSTAND it.

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