Week 374: Surprised by Joy, by William Wordsworth

This week I attended the funeral service of an ex-work colleague, dead before her sixtieth birthday. I know that perceptions of age are relative – nine-year-old Daisy Ashford in ‘The Young Visitors’ writes of ‘an elderly gentleman of 42’ – but certainly from my own present perspective fifty-nine seems way too young to die. Not, of course, as young as Wordsworth’s daughter, but still, it was his great poem of bereavement that came to my mind during the service, so I dedicate this week’s choice to the memory of one I knew as a lively young woman, and to her husband, left like Wordsworth without his ‘heart’s best treasure’.

Surprised by joy

Surprised by joy – impatient as the Wind
I turned to share the transport – Oh! with whom
But Thee, deep buried in the silent tomb,
That spot which no vicissitude can find?
Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind –
But how could I forget thee? Through what power,
Even for the least division of an hour,
Have I been so beguiled as to be blind
To my most grievous loss! – That thought’s return
Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore,
Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn,
Knowing my heart’s best treasure was no more;
That neither present time, nor years unborn
Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.

William Wordsworth

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