The Parting Glass

The time you won your town the race

We chaired you through the market-place;

Man and boy stood cheering by,

And home we brought you shoulder-high.

To-day, the road all runners come,

Shoulder-high we bring you home,

And set you at your threshold down,

Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away

From fields were glory does not stay

And early though the laurel grows

It withers quicker than the rose.

Eyes the shady night has shut

Cannot see the record cut,

And silence sounds no worse than cheers

After earth has stopped the ears:

Now you will not swell the rout

Of lads that wore their honours out,

Runners whom renown outran

And the name died before the man.

So set, before its echoes fade,

The fleet foot on the sill of shade,

And hold to the low lintel up

The still-defended challenge-cup.

And round that early-laurelled head

Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,

And find unwithered on its curls

The garland briefer than a girl’s.

~ A.E. Houseman, “To an Athlete Dying Young”

If I had money enough to spend

And leisure to sit awhile

There is a fair maid in the town

That sorely has my heart beguiled

Her rosy cheeks and ruby lips

I own she has my heart enthralled

So fill to me the parting glass

Good night and joy be with you all

Oh, all the comrades that e’er I had

They’re sorry for my going away

And all the sweethearts that e’er I had

They’d wish me one more day to stay

But since it falls unto my lot

That I should rise and you should not

I’ll gently rise and softly call

Good night and joy be with you all

~The Pogues, “The Parting Glass”

To my best friend, buried ten years ago today.

Joy be with you all, this day, and all others.


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  1. …about this, or the subject of mourning.

    But Rusty’s excellent front page post about sexual experience reminded me that one of the things we are least able to talk about are these private things.  Even in the exhibitionist world of blogging, we conceal much of ourselves.  

    Everywhere we go, when we ask people “How are you?”, we aren’t really looking for the real answer.  Which is good, because we don’t really want to tell anyone either.

    One of the hardest and strangest things about losing Seth was how his privacy, his own thoughts and secrets, were now opened to me.  Tonight, his mother offered to send me his poetry.  

    I never knew he wrote poetry.  Ten years later, and I am still learning new things about him.

  2. “The subject of mourning …”

    In Judaism, a week of shiva, because it took God a week to create the world and when someone close to you dies it is as though the world has been destroyed … and so it is rebuilt during that week.

    And then a year of mourning, to note each season that passes and how different it is without that person we love.

    Remembrance, though … that is for a lifetime.

    As always, I am touched when you write like this.

    • kj on February 16, 2008 at 04:10

    our memories; perfect (if now frozen), moments in time.

    I went home to be with my father when he was dying. He was the patriarch, I was his errant last child. The last evening before he took to bed, we sat side-by-side- he in his chair, me on the arm of the couch- and listened to “Danny Boy” while we watched the sun set.

    As cliche as it sounds, it is one my most precious (and private) memories.

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