Saturday, June 25, 2011

Six months

It's exactly six months today since Harvey died on Christmas Day, and once again it's a Saturday. I knew I'd need to be occupied, so it was good when a couple who'd known Harvey for a very long time, and visited faithfully when he was ill, invited me for lunch. Geoff was at Canterbury University with him, and they'd often been taken for brothers.
         The sun helped too. I took Geoff and Pam a pot of hyacinths, and on the way home I bought one for myself. Harvey loved them and always used to plant a bowl of them for me, then for a couple of years I did it, but last year I bought them instead. Only three, instead of the six or eight we used to grow, but they'll be beautiful.
Last Sunday I got through another of the things that had to be done - handing most of Harvey's superb library of New Zealand poetry over to Mark Pirie, who published Harvey's poetry from 1999. Harvey wanted him to have the books, knowing he would fully appreciate them and make very good use of them.

But the empty bookshelves look bereft - "Bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang". Looking back to last year, the sadness of Shakespeare's Sonnet 73 seems to fit perfectly.

  That time of year thou mayst in me behold
  When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
  Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
  Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang
  In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
  As after sunset fadeth in the west;
  Which by and by black night doth take away,
  Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
  In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
  That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
  As the death-bed, whereon it must expire,
  Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by.

  This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
  To love that well, which thou must leave ere long.

Yes. Except that he did manage to sing a little almost to the end, and I need to show the same spirit and courage. Here he is at about 50, looking wonderfully Shakespearian.


  1. Anne: that sonnet always wrenches at my heart. How merciless Shakespeare was in demanding one's emotional response.

    I recently tracked down the podcast of the interview you did with Kathryn Ryan; your strength and dignity brought me to tears.

    On a different note, I've just been working on tomorrow's lesson for my Year 10 class. We're reading 'Milking before Dawn'. I went back and read Harvey's Stoatspring post about it, and what he wrote in 'These I have Loved'. I feel well prepared! This is a rural area, they're not very academic sorts; I'm looking forward to the lesson. I'm sure he would have agreed with me that kids are not taught enough poetry in schools now. I very rarely have a junior class, and often find that my seniors are sadly lacking in poetry experience, so to speak.

    Have a pleasant Sunday.

  2. Thank you both. Alexia, I was so taken with your lesson plan! Harvey would have been delighted.

  3. I've been reading your blog for the past few months and wanted to comment, but hadn't worked out how until this evening, when my daughter showed me what to do. I'd like to make a very tardy comment about your post "Doing as you would be done by". Reading it, I desperately wanted to tell you that there are many women out there, reading your blog, silently empathising with you.I wish you strength and perseverence - both qualities which you already have plenty of! Death does indeed sneak up and turn all our certainties on their heads - but we can and must weather it. It is a privilege to be able to read your brave and human account of how you are weathering it and more.


  4. Jan, that's so kind and warm and supportive - thank you, and your daughter.