Deaths that tear the heart

Of all the expressions of unconsolable loss I have read concerning the death of anyone greatly loved, the following lament by Henry James, the novelist, when his older brother, William James, the scientist and philosopher, died is the most heartfelt:

“I sit heavily stricken and in darkness – for from far aback in dimmest childhood he had been my Elder Brother; and I still, through all the years, saw in him, even as a small timorous boy yet, my protector, my backer, my authority and my pride.  His extinction changes the face of life for me – besides the mere missing of his inexhaustible company and personality, originality, the whole unspeakably vivid and beautiful presence of him.”

And there is one poem, hardly known at all I believe, which affects me greatly every time I read the lines.  I know of no more desperate, despairing cry of love and loss in all the poetry I have read.  It is a poem embedded in a longer poem.  The long poem is called Hungerfield.  It is by Robinson Jeffers and the lines within the long poem are about the death of his beloved wife which he can hardly bear. ….

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